Townsville 1901 - 2003
On 16 September 1901, the Australian Flag was unveiled and proclaimed for the first time at a ceremony at the Town Hall in Townsville.
The ceremony was conducted by the first Governor-General of Australia, the Earl of Hopetoun.
1901 - 1914
The railway to Ayr was opened in 1901.
1902 is when Townsville was proclaimed a City under the new 'Local Authorities Act'.
When Cyclone Leonta struck Townsville on 9 March 1903, eight people lost their lives. The Grammar School was destroyed, St James' Cathedral was damaged, the hospital collapsed and many other buildings were damaged. The first Eisteddfod was held 1903 on Easter Saturday
During 1904, gas lamps were installed along Flinders Street.
Gleeson's Weir was built on Ross River in 1908, the first of three weirs built on Ross River in 1908 to supplement the supply of fresh water to the community.
In 1910, 'Moving picture theatres' came into vogue and Townsville people had the choice of two venues, Mr Coyle's Royal and Birch Carroll's Olympia. Within two years the operations had merged.
The Institute of Tropical Medicine was established in Townsville in 1910. It was the predecessor to the current Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine based at James Cook University.
In 1911, more than 100 lives were lost when the ship Yongala disappeared during a storm and sank. The ship was found in 1958 on the sea floor off Bowling Green Bay. It is now a popular diving spot.
The Townsville Bulletin office was destroyed by fire in 1912, destroying many of the newspaper records.
Horse-drawn buses, which had operated in the city since the 1880s, were gradually replaced by motorised buses.
1913 was the year a wireless telegraph station was established in Victoria Park. A 160-foot-high timber mast was erected to support the aerial. The first aeroplane to fly over Townsville airspace, piloted by A. Jones, landed on the Cluden racecourse on 25 August. The Great Northern Railway station opened in Flinders Street.
In 1914, World War I commenced and the Townsville-based Kennedy Regiment was sent to Thursday Island to protect the island from attack by German forces in the Pacific.
Townsville was once home to a number of open-air picture theatres. There was the Strand Theatre in Flinders St, which opened in 1914, and also the City Pictures, an open-air theatre designed by Lynch and Hunt architects and built in approximately 1917. In later years, the Olympia at the corner of Sturt and Stokes St was also established.
1918 - 1940
World War I ended in 1918 and parades were held to celebrate the declaration of peace.
In 1919, an industrial dispute involving employees at the meatworks turned violent, leading to two arrests. A large crowd marched to the watch-house (the current site of the Perfumed Gardens) to protest their arrest, and shots are reputed to have been fired.
In 1922, a large crowd of people gathered in Flinders Street to watch the lumination of Townsville's first electric street light. (The first Townsville house to be connected to electricity was 123 Mitchell Street in 1925.)
The Hubert’s Well Power Station became operational in 1922 and was situated on a 9-acre site bordered by Ross River Road, West Street, Rogers Street and Wareham Street in Aitkenvale.
In 1924, the railway from Brisbane to Cairns opened. A second railway bridge was built near Lowth's road bridge in Stanley Street and a railway goods yard was established in South Townsville.
The first flying boat to land in Townsville berthed in Ross Creek in 1925 and in the same year extensions were carried out on the Townsville Harbour. The Central Fire Station was opened on the corner of Stokes and Walker Streets.
In 1925, large deposits of copper, lead and zinc were discovered in the vicinity of Mount Isa. By 1929, bulk ore from Mount Isa was being exported from Townsville.
In 1925, Townsville’s Winter Garden Theatre was official opened by the then Mayor of the City, Alderman W J Heatley. It was located in Sturt Street (next to the current Townsville Police Station) and at the time, the largest theatre in North Queensland. The opening night performance was a production of Shakespeare's Henry VIII. It has sadly since been demolished.
Shell and Vacuum oil companies competed for leases for bulk petroleum storage from 1928 through to 1929.
Aplin's Weir was built in 1928.
In 1929, construction commenced on the Mt Spec road. The work included the construction of an arch bridge over Little Crystal Creek (c.1930s).
Throughout 1935 water restrictions were very severe and it was only with considerable difficulty that sufficient water was supplied for Townsville’s use.
By 1936, Townsville's population reached 30,000 people.
On 28 February 1937, Castle Hill Road was completed and opened.
Townsville's first airport opened in 1939 with gravel runways and the Garbutt airfield was commissioned to become a Royal Australian Air Force base.
1941 - 1967
Between 1942 and 1945, Townsville played an important part in the War in the Pacific.
Townsville became a major military base, accommodating up to 90,000 Australian, American and other allied service personnel. The City was bombed on three occassions by the Japanese, and was used as a major offensive launching base during the battle of the Coral Sea. Crowds flocked to Flinders Street when peace was announced on 15 August 1945. World War II Victory Day celebrations were held on 10 June 1946.
Childcare services began in Townsville in 1947 when the Townsville Municipal Day Nursery was established in the City Buildings.
In 1948, the Foley Shield competition commenced. The Shield is North Queensland Rugby League's premier competition.
Tobruk Memorial Pool opened on 14 October 1950 and the new Townsville General Hospital opened in North Ward on 21 April 1951.
As part of a Royal Tour, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited the city in 1954. The first Magnetic Island to Townsville swim was staged in this year. A huge success, it has become an annual event.
In 1956, Townsville's Tobruk Memorial Pool was used as a training venue for the Australian swimming squad for the Melbourne Olympic Games. Training camps prior to the Cardiff Commonwealth Games in 1958 and the Rome Olympic Games in 1960 were also held at the pool.
The first bulk sugar terminal was constructed at the Townsville Port in 1959 and Premier Frank Nicklin opened the new Copper Refinery at Stuart.
The University College of Townsville was opened in February 1961 with 105 students. It became known as James Cook University officially on 20 April 1970.
The bulk sugar terminal at the port was severely damaged by a fire in May 1963 at the time Australia’s biggest structural fire. The town was covered by foul smelling smoke and fumes and the river and creeks in the town became discoloured and full of dead fish.
In 1964, Col. Sir Henry Abel-Smith, Governor of Queensland, officially opened the Jezzine Barracks at Kissing Point. He also unveiled the Centenary Memorial Plaque. In 2014 Jezzine Barracks was opened as a community facility.
The CSIRO Davies Laboratory was established on University Road on 27 July 1965.
Lavarack Barracks was established with Australian 3rd Task Force transferred to Townsville in 1967.
1970 - 1990
James Cook University (formerly known as the University College of Townsville) was proclaimed as an Act of Parliament on 20 April 1970. Queen Elizabeth II signed the proclamation.
1970 also saw the opening of the largest Woolworths in Australia at Nathan Shopping Plaza (now Stockland), Aitkenvale.
Christmas Eve in 1971, Cyclone Althea struck Townsville. An estimated $50 million worth of damage was caused with hundreds of homes on the mainland and over 90 per cent of those on Magnetic Island damaged or destroyed. A three metre storm surge was recorded north of the area. There were three deaths.
A nickel refinery at Yabulu was opened for operation in 1974 and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) opened at Pallarenda.
1974 was the year the Ross River was dammed, to mitigate against flooding and improve water availability.
The Townsville Civic Theatre opened in 1977 with a variety concert of local performers. When opened it was the most technically advanced theatre in Queensland. The Fly Tower of the theatre was referred to being the highest in Queensland at the time of opening.
The Flinders Street Mall was opened on 1 November 1979.
Redevelopment of the mall commenced around 2008 to make way for through traffic.
Flinders Street was reopened to traffic in 2011.
The Perc Tucker Regional Art Gallery opened in Flinders Mall in 1981. The building was originally erected in 1885 for the Union Bank of Australia.
In 1981, Edward Mabo, a Townsville resident, and a number of other local Aboriginal leaders held a conference at James Cook University and decided to pursue a native land title claim for the people of the Murray Islands in the High Court of Australia. The 'Mabo' land rights campaign was successful and the High Court of Australia gave recognition of indigenous land ownership in 1992.
Buchanan’s Hotel in Flinders St, regarded as a Australia’s most significant building in the Filigree style was burned to the ground in 1982.
On 1 January 1986, Thuringowa was proclaimed a city. Prior to its proclamation as a city, Thuringowa was a large rural shire, almost surrounding the City of Townsville. It was amalgamated with the City of Townsville in 2008.
The Sheraton Breakwater Hotel and Casino (now known as Jupiters Casino) was opened to the public in 1986 and another Townsville attraction, Reef Wonderland (now known as Reef HQ) opened on 24 June 1987.
Townsville’s own National Basketball League team, The Townsville Suns played their first match on 23 April 1987 at the Townsville Entertainment Centre. Forced to change their name in 1997 due to copyright regulations, the team became the Crocodiles.
1990 - 2003
The Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM) presented its first season in Townsville in July 1991, initiated through the vision and commitment of the former Vice Chancellor of James Cook University, Professor Ray Golding and the Festival's previous Artistic Director, Theodore Kuchar.
In 1994, a public competition decided the name and team colours of Townsville’s entry into the Australian Rugby League, the North Queensland Cowboys. Laurie Spina led the team onto Stockland Stadium (now known as 1300 Smiles Stadium) for their first ever clash on 11 March 1995.
In 1995, the inaugural Townsville Cultural Festival was held.
On 12 June 1996, the Australian Army experienced one its worst peace time disasters when two Black Hawk helicopters collided in a training accident, killing 15 members of the Special Air Services Regiment and three members of the Army Aviation Corp. A memorial was erected in the Palmetum in 1997.
The Sun Metal Zinc Refinery was built and opened.
On the night of 10 January 1998, torrential rain fell in Townsville and Thuringowa causing wide-spread flooding throughout the city. The worst floods in the cities’ history.
The Strand was extensively damaged. The total damage bill for the area was in excess of $100 million. The period of the 10th to the 11th has since been dubbed the 'Night of Noah' by Townsville residents.
Over a three-day period, over 750mm of rain fell across the area.
After being heavily damaged by the “Night of Noah”, Townsville's iconic Strand was redeveloped and reopened on 23 October 1999.
Construction commenced in 2003 on the Douglas Arterial Road (Ring Road). The project included the construction of a new bridge across the Ross River.
The new Townsville Railway Station opened to accommodate the new Tilt Train service and the Nelly Bay Harbour ferry terminal on Magnetic Island opened.
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