Suicide Bend and the Government Reserve
In 1885 the area of East Stratford was gazetted as a police paddock, although it was never used for a permanent police presence. The following year the Queensland government excised 40 acres to become the new Cairns Cemetery.
Development in Cairns and the swampy nature of the ground meant the original cemetery on the Esplanade was no longer suitable, and although a site had been chosen on McLeod Street, it was also thought to be too close to houses and the Cairns water supply. As the railway was under construction it was intended that coffins be transported out to here by train. However the reserve was not surveyed until 1890 by which time the McLeod Street Cemetery was in regular use and the Stratford Cemetery was never used.
In 1911 the area was gazetted as an Explosives Reserve and earmarked for the expansion of the powder magazine. However this development did not happen and by 1930 the area had been sub-divided for residential development.
The narrow bush track to Cairns had been widened and improved when the railway was being constructed. However before the rocky spur was removed and the road realigned, the bend was much more severe as it skirted around the base of the hillside. Many a time cars and particularly motorbikes took the bend too fast and it became known as Suicide Bend.
Even before the advent of the motor car there were complaints about the road. In 1890 a letter appeared in the Cairns Post complaining that the road was too narrow and it was ‘exceedingly uncomfortable’ to drive a horse and buggy through the gap between the wall of rock and the railway fence because the ‘treacherous points of the barb wire fence are much too close to be pleasant.’
To the Cairns Post,
27 August 1890.
The newly formed road near Stratford is anything but pleasant to travel over with a horse and buggy. An exceedingly uncomfortable feature is the barbed wire fence erected by the Railway Department at the narrow pass between the wall of rock and the railway. The treacherous points of the barbs are much too close to the horse to be pleasant when riding through……