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‘Taking the Waters’: Mineral Springs, Artesian Bores and Health Tourism in Queensland, 1870–1950

  • Peter Griggs (a1)

Extract

In late 1907, Charles Fraser, the Victorian government entomologist, travelled to North Queensland. His observations of the flora and fauna in this part of Australia were later published in the Victorian Naturalist. However, this journey was not motivated entirely by his desire to study natural history. As a sufferer of ‘rhematic [sic] troubles’, he spent a few days soaking in the mineral-impregnated waters at Innot Hot Springs, a small inland village approximately 150 kilometres south-east of Cairns. First established in the late 1880s, the tiny settlement is still visited during the winter months by many ‘grey nomads’ en route to Karumba, where the fishing is promoted as being excellent. They break their journey at Innot Hot Springs to soak in the indoor or outdoor swimming pools filled with mineralised water of varying temperatures sourced from the nearby Nettle Creek. Some view it simply as a place to relax after the long journey from southern Australia, having perhaps already tried the artesian bore water baths at Moree and Mitchell en route. Others may consider the mineral waters to have healing qualities; like Charles Fraser, they are literally ‘taking the waters’.

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Endnotes

1 French, Charles, ‘A naturalist's health trip to Northern Queensland’, Victorian Naturalist 24 (11) (1908), 170.

2 Lambert, Steve, Australia's great thermal way (Westminster, WA: Author, 2011), p. 59.

3 Brown, Isaac, Australia for the consumptive invalid: the voyage, climates and prospects for residence (London: Robert Hardwicke, 1865); Dovey, William, New South Wales as a health resort (Sydney: n.p., 1899); Powell, Joseph, Mirrors of the new world: images and image-makers in the settlement process (Canberra: ANU Press, 1978), pp. 119–43.

4 Pearn, John and Little, Vincent, ‘The taking of the waters: health springs and spa waters of high lithium content at Helidon, Queensland’, in Parry, Suzanne (ed.), From migration to mining: medicine and health in Australian history. Occasional Papers in Medical History Australia, No. 8 (Darwin: Historical Society of Northern Territory, 1997), pp. 418–23; Webster, Joan, The Helidon Spa Water Company (Helidon: Community Books, 2007); White, Richard, ‘From the majestic to the mundane: democracy, sophistication and history among the mineral spas of Australia’, Journal of Tourism History, 4 (1) (2012), 90.

5 Martyr, Philippa, Paradise of quacks: an alternative history of medicine in Australia (Sydney: Macleay Press, 2002), p. 105; Pfeiffer, Carl, The art and practice of western medicine in the early nineteenth century (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 1985), pp. 171–84.

6 Krizek, Vladimir, ‘History of balneotherapy’, in Licht, Sidney and Kamenetz, Herman (eds), Medical hydrology (Baltimore, MD: Waverley Press, 1963), pp. 131–59; Bullard, Loring, Healing waters: Missouri's historic mineral springs and spas (Columbia, MS: Missouri University Press, 2004), pp. 1115; for Bath's hospital, see Rolls, Roger, The hospital of the nation: the story of spa medicine and the Mineral Water Hospital at Bath (Avon: Bird, 1988).

7 Hall, Michael, ‘Spa and health tourism’, in Hudson, Simon (ed.), Sport and adventure tourism (New York: Haworth Hospitality Press, 2003), pp. 277–8; Connell, John, Medical tourism (Wallingford, UK: CAB International, 2011), pp. 1222; Bullard, Healing waters, pp. 16–23; Valenza, Janet, Taking the waters in Texas: springs, spas, and fountains of youth (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2000), pp. 1829.

8 For a comprehensive account of the history of spa tourism in Australia, see White, ‘From the majestic to the mundane’, 85–107.

9 Woolcock, Helen, ‘“Our salubrious climate”: attitudes to health in colonial Queensland’, in Macleod, Roy and Lewis, Milton (eds), Disease, medicine and empire: perspectives on western medicine and the experience of European expansion (London: Routledge, 1988), p. 183; Hindsdale, Guy, Hydrotherapy (Philadelphia, PA: W. Saunders & Co., 1910), pp. 59218.

10 Connell, Medical tourism, p. 14; Bullard, Healing waters, pp. 69–73.

11 Claridge, R. T., Hydropathy, or, the system of effecting cures by means of cold water (Launceston?: Henry Dowling, 1846); La Moile, F., Victoria water-cure establishment, Malvern Hill, near Toorak (Melbourne: Clarson, Shallard & Co., 1861).

12 Joske and Morton, A sketch of the mineral springs and their uses, with reference to the properties of the Ballan selters waters (Melbourne: Joske and Morton, 1868), pp. 25, 29; reported in the Argus (Melbourne), 17 April 1925, 12.

13 Springthorpe, John W., Therapeutics, dietetics and hygiene: an Australian text-book (Melbourne: James Little and Sons, 1914), pp. 815–35; Kerr, E. W., ‘Muckadilla for obstinate rheumatism’, Australasian Medical Gazette, 20 October 1909, 541–3; Victorian Government Tourist Bureau, Where to go, how to get there, where to stay: Victorian country hotel, guest and boarding house guide (Melbourne: Victorian Railways Advertising Division, 1925), p. 156.

14 Martyr, Paradise of quacks, pp. 142–5, 151–2, 261; Smith, F., Illness in colonial Australia (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2011), pp. 264–8.

15 Anon., ‘Einasleigh Hot Springs’, Queensland Government Mining Journal, 7 (1906), 460; Queensland Government Intelligence and Tourist Bureau (hereafter QGITB), The pocket Queensland, rev. ed. (Brisbane: Queensland Government, 1915), p. 146.

16 Talbot, Don, History of Withcott and Upper Lockyer, Volume 2 (Withcott: D. Talbot, 1994), pp. 55, 57, 98–9; Pearn and Little, ‘The taking of the waters’, p. 420; Anon., Australia's wonderful mineral water: Helidon Spa (Brisbane: Biggs & Co., c. 1910), p. 7.

17 For an example of a Helidon Spa Water advertisement, see the advertising material at the front of Macluran, H., Mrs Macluran's cookery book, 3rd ed. (Brisbane: George Robertson and Co., 1899).

18 Charles Garbutt to Under-Secretary, Queensland Department of Lands, Brisbane, 16 January 1889 (attached to in-letter 02891 of 1889) in TR 1794/1, Special Leases, Box 15, File 411, Queensland State Archives; Meston, Archibald, Geographic history of Queensland (Brisbane: Queensland Government Printer, 1895), p. 153.

19 Townsville Daily Bulletin, 26 February 1912, 5; Toohey, Edwina, From bullock to puffing bill: the Atherton Tableland and its hinterland (Rockhampton: Central Queensland University Press, 2001), p. 30; for an example of an Innot Spa Water Company advertisement, see the advertising material at the front of Macluran, Mrs Macluran's Cookery Book).

20 Henderson, J., ‘Annual Report of the Hydraulic Engineer, 1899–1900’, Queensland Parliamentary Papers, vol. 4 (1900), 916; QGITB, The Maranoa District (South Western Queensland): its wonderful pastoral and agricultural resources and its illimitable possibilities (Brisbane: Queensland Government Printer, 1916), p. 15; Kerr, ‘Muckadilla for obstinate rheumatism’, 541; Spencer, Hope, Roma souvenir booklet (Roma: Roma Centenary Celebrations Committee, 1946), p. 42.

21 Wise's Queensland Post Office and Commercial Directories, 1911–12, p. 249; 1913–14, p. 261; 1916–17, p. 323.

22 Hotel, Muckadilla, The famous Muckadilla bore (Brisbane: Muckadilla Hotel and Biggs & Morcom, c. 1922), pp. 5, 16; Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser, 8 April 1921, 3.

23 Western Star and Roma Advertiser, 18 October 1924, 5.

24 Hoch, Isabel, Barcaldine Local Authority 1846–1986 (Barcaldine: Barcaldine Shire Council, 1986), p. 59; Ludwig Bruck, ‘The mineral springs of Australia’, Australasian Medical Gazette, January 1891, 105; Western Champion, 18 June 1921, 13; Townsville Daily Bulletin, 24 September 1912, 3.

25 QGITB, Central Queensland: its marvellous pastoral and mineral Resources (Brisbane: Queensland Government Printer, 1914), p. 37.

26 Springthorpe, Therapeutics, dietetics and hygiene: an Australian text-book, p. 997; Woolcock, ‘Our salubrious climate’, p. 184; Thom Blake and Margaret Cook, Great Artesian Basin: historical overview (Brisbane: Queensland Department of Natural Resources, 2006), p. 54.

27 Dalby Town Council, Dalby and its wonder water: Dalby's Hot Artesian Baths (Dalby: Dalby Town Council, c. 1933), pp. 2–5; Brisbane Courier, 24 July 1922, 9; 1 July 1924, 14.

28 QGITB, The Marona District (South Western Queensland), p. 17; Bruck, ‘The mineral springs of Australia’, 103; Pearn and Little, ‘The taking of the waters’, p. 421.

29 Pearn and Little, ‘The taking of the waters’, p. 418; Bruck, ‘The mineral springs of Australia’, 104.

30 Bullard, Healing waters, pp. 53–9; Rolls, The hospital of the nation, pp. 151–66.

31 Anon., Muckadilla's hot spring: nature's great healer, p. 3 (10 pp. pamphlet, c. 1920); Wise's Queensland Post Office and Commercial Directory, 1916, p. 323; 1940, p. 491; Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser, 8 April 1921, 3.

32 Bruck, ‘The mineral springs of Australia’, 104; Anon., Muckadilla's Hot Spring, p. 3.

33 Strachan, Rod and Scott, Joan, In champagne country: stories and photographs of people and events in and around Roma (Toowoomba: Roma State School P&C Association, 1980), p. 60; Kerr, ‘Muckadilla for obstinate rheumatism’, 541–2.

34 Anon, Muckadilla's hot spring, p. 3; Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton), 6 March 1917, 4.

35 QGITB, North Queensland, Australia (Brisbane: Queensland Government Tourist Bureau, 1908), p. 42; Burns, Philip & Company Ltd, Picturesque travel (Sydney: Burns, Philip & Company, 1913), p. 22; Spencer, Roma souvenir booklet, p. 42; Muckadilla Hotel, The famous Muckadilla Bore, p. 5; Kerr, ‘Muckadilla for obstinate rheumatism’, 542.

36 Corfield, William, Reminiscences of Queensland (Brisbane: Frater, 1921), pp. 152–3.

37 Anon., Australia's wonderful mineral water (Brisbane: Biggs & Company, c. 1910), p. 16; QGITB, North Queensland: the holiday land (Brisbane: Queensland Government, c. 1925), p. 16.

38 Dalby Town Council, Dalby and its wonder water, p. 3.

39 The Australian tropiculturist and stockbreeder, 11 August 1896, p. 46; Muckadilla Hotel, The famous Muckadilla Bore, p. 10; for a Helidon Spa Water advertisement, see the advertising material at the front of Macluran, Mrs Macluran's cookery book.

40 Townsville Daily Bulletin, 26 February 1912, 5; Western Star and Roma Advertiser, 2 October 1918, 3; Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser, 8 April 1921, 3; Brisbane Courier, 6 February 1926, 20.

41 For this claim, see White, ‘From the majestic to the mundane’, 99.

42 For examples of reports about the origins of visitors, see the following: Kerr, ‘Muckadilla for obstinate rheumatism’, 542; Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton), 6 March 1917, 4; Western Champion, 5 October 1912, 9; Townsville Daily Bulletin, 26 February 1912, 5; Queenslander, 29 March 1934, 36; Brisbane Courier, 21 January 1926, 9.

43 Cairns Post, 29 November 1930, 8.

44 See, for example, QGITB, The Pocket Queensland, pp. 21, 146; QGITB, North Queensland, p. 16; QGITB, The Maranoa district, pp. 15–16; QGITB, North Queensland: a land teeming with wealth (Brisbane: Queensland Government, 1908), p. 42; Queensland Government, The Queen State: what Queensland can offer (Brisbane: Queensland Government Printer, 1933), p. 155; Anon., Muckadilla bore.

45 Dalby Town Council, Dalby and its wonder water, p. 2.

46 Muckadilla Hotel, The famous Muckadilla Bore, pp. 3, 16.

47 Northern Miner, 23 January 1897, 4; Cairns Post, 27 June 1923, 4.

48 Muckadilla Hotel, The famous Muckadilla bore, p. 20; Cairns Post, 6 December 1930, 7; Western Star and Roma Advertiser, 9 August 1930, 9.

49 Queenslander, 3 January 1929, 7; Wise's Queensland Post Office and Commercial Directory, 1929–1930, p. 430.

50 White, ‘From the majestic to the mundane’, pp. 101–2; for the decline in spa use in the United States, see Valenza, Taking the waters in Texas, pp. 144–7.

51 Matthews, Tony, Beyond the crossing: a history of Dalby and district (Dalby: Dalby Town Council, 1988), pp. 66–7; Courier-Mail, 28 September 1938, 7; Commonwealth Illustrated Directory (Queensland Edition), 1934–35 (Country Directory section), p. 11.

52 Blake and Cook, Great Artesian Basin, pp. 55, 83; Schneider, Margaret and Walden, Peg, Once across the Maranoa: the story of the Mitchell railway extension (Mitchell: Mitchell Railway Centenary Committee, 1985), p. 35; ‘Muckadilla Hotel’, http://www.muckadillahotel.com.au (viewed 29 June 2013).

53 Pearn and Little, ‘The taking of the waters’, p. 422; Blake and Cook, Great Artesian Basin, p. 57; Rutledge, Len, The motoring holiday guide to North Queensland, Australia (Brisbane: Queensland Tourist & Travel Corporation & Royal Automobile Club of Queensland, 1993), p. 123.

54 Connell, Medical tourism, pp. 15–16; Laing, Jennifer, ‘Peninsula Hot Springs: A new spa tourism experience ‘Down Under’, in Smith, Melanie and Puczkó, László (eds), Health and wellness tourism (Oxford: Elsevier, 2009), pp. 329–33.

55 Lambert, Australia's great thermal way, pp. 41–59; ‘Great Artesian Spa’, http://www.westerndownsholidays.com.au/destinations/mitchell/attractions (viewed 29 June 2013); Innot Hot Springs Leisure and Health Park, http://tur.com.au/parks/qld/tropical-north-queensland/innot-hot-springs-leisure-and-health-park (viewed 29 June 2013).

‘Taking the Waters’: Mineral Springs, Artesian Bores and Health Tourism in Queensland, 1870–1950

  • Peter Griggs (a1)

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