The next chapter of Cape Cleveland’s history occurred when
Lieut. Smith was appointed to take an expedition in the schooner "Spitfire", in August, 1860, specifically to
try and locate the estuary of the Burdekin River.
Inland expeditions by Leichhardt, Gregory and Dalrymple had
explored the path of the Burdekin but the estuary had not been located and it was thought that it would
present a good prospect for a port to service the North Queensland area.
Included in the party
wereGeorge Augustus Dalrymple, newly
appointed Commissioner for Crown Lands for the Kennedy District as well asEugene Fitzalan, botanical collector who collected for
Ferdinand von Mueller.
in Cleveland Bay on 15th September, 1860, and described the area thus:
Bay is about 12 miles in length and breadth; surrounded on the land side by towering ranges of mountains, of which
Mt. Elliott, elevated 4200 feet at the south end is the loftiest. Cape Cleveland runs out from the main in a chain
of high hills……. Magnetical Island forms the north western boundary of the bay, only of lower elevation, and
covered with pines, eucalypti, &c. The south end of the cape is divided from Mt. Elliott by an expanse of low
mangrove swamps and mud flats, intersected by saltwater creeks"
Fitzalan made many collections of
plants on this
trip, including a number from Cape Cleveland. One of these was also a "type"
specimen, that of Hoya dalrympleana, now known as Hoya
australis subsp. australis.
Another "type" specimen collected in the
area, although the specific location is not clear, was Gardenia
fitzalani, now known as Atractocarpus
fitzalanii. This was said to be collected at Cape Upstart, Magnetical Island, Halifax Bay, and was
obviously named after the collector by Ferdinand von Mueller.
Some of the other plants
collected by Eugene Fitzalan were – Turraea
falcata and Pandorea
Today Cape Cleveland is part of the Bowling Green Bay National
Park, and is thankfully protected from future development. It is a unique part of North Queensland which has
provided more than its proportion of history and anthropological input to the region, not to mention having a
valuable contribution to the botanical knowledge of the area.
As a matter of interest, the expedition concluded that the
Burdekin did not have a navigable opening to the sea, but rather that it spread out over a delta, with "a
multitude of minor channels".