Welcome to the

An initiative of the Stratford and Freshwater Community Association (SAFCA), the aim of the project was to engage the local community by recording and sharing our history. Funded through Q150, Cairns Regional Council and the sponsorship of local businesses, organisations, residents and SAFCA members, the Stratford Heritage Trail records and preserves the rich and diverse history of the area.

There are 29 marked sites on the Stratford Heritage Trail. You can browse through all of these sites here on the website, just use the menu links on the left. If you want to walk the trail, there is a map and introductory sign outside the Stratford Library on Kamerunga Road. The map and list of sites can be downloaded and printed for you to take with you on the walk.

The Stratford Heritage Trail provides a lasting cultural and recreational resource that will continue to foster community spirit, inclusiveness and pride in our suburb. We hope you enjoy finding out more about our unique part of the world.

The Stratford Heritage Trail was opened in 2009 as part of Queensland’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

SAFCA Stratford Freshwater Community Association heritage trail

The Development of Stratford

The area along the coastal Barron River was the traditional home of the Yirrganydji people, rainforest dwellers and seafarers, who traded with their neighbours along the coast and over the ranges.

In 1876 the discovery of gold on the Hodgkinson River resulted in the settlement of Cairns and old Smithfield town. A road was cut through the scrub around the base of Mount Whitfield, and the Barron River developed into an important trade route. Sampans piled high with bananas and produce from Chinese market gardens worked the tides up and down the river.

Cedar cutters harvested the ancient trees of the tropical forests and a timber mill was built on the river bank in 1885. Stratford developed into a timber town and the timber industry supported the area for many decades.

The railway, built in 1888 to service the Herberton tin mines, encouraged further residential and agricultural growth. Stratford became a crossing point on the Barron when the ferry service started in 1890, and by 1921 a bridge spanned the river. A second bridge was built in 1933 for the new Captain Cook Highway which ran through the town.

SAFCA works to preserve the history of Stratford

The Stratford and Freshwater Community Association (SAFCA), with support from the local community and assistance from a Queensland Government Q150 grant and the Cairns Regional Council, has established a Heritage Trail in the historic Cairns suburb of Stratford.

For thousands of generations the area along the banks of Bana Bidagarra was significant to the Yirrganydji. When gold and tin lured European and Chinese miners to the area, the rainforest was cleared as Kanakas worked on the banana farms and sugar-cane plantations. Chinese tended their market gardens and timber-cutters snigged enormous cedars. The Thornborough road and the Kuranda railway were built along the base of the Whitfield Range and lighters, cutters and junks plied their trade along the Barron River. Timber mills, rice-mills, wharves, warehouses and shipyards sprang up, and a handful of families made Stratford their home.

Stratford retains much of the charm of tropical far north Queensland that is rapidly disappearing from other suburbs. We have Rankine’s mill, the Heritage Listed magazine, Tully’s Hotel, Draper’s Lily Bank home, railway heritage, evidence of several Barron bridges dating back to the 1920s, Constable Dwyer’s grave, WWII military heritage and many traditional wooden Queenslanders in the Stratford character precinct.

During 2009 Dave Phoenix, a postgraduate researcher at James Cook University, uncovered the history of the area. Signs documenting the history of 29 important sites in Stratford were installed to make a Heritage Trail through the suburb. The trail was opened in 2009 as part of Queensland’s 150th Anniversary celebrations.

The Stratford Heritage Trail is an initiative of the
Stratford & Freshwater Community Association