Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL) is renowned for its vast river systems and spectacular wetlands. In the wet season, the Normanby, Morehead and North Kennedy rivers and their tributaries join to flood vast areas, eventually draining north into Princess Charlotte Bay. During the dry season, rivers and creeks shrink, leaving large permanent waterholes, lakes and lagoons that attract an array of animals, particularly waterbirds. To the north, the park features impenetrable mangroves along the estuaries and coastline of Princess Charlotte Bay. Behind the coast are extensive salt flats and marine plains that give way to inland tracts of eucalypt and paperbark woodlands. Fringing many of the river banks and streams are magnificent, tall paperbark trees and patches of gallery rainforest. The landscape of Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL) is of significant Aboriginal cultural significance.
We drove down to the Old Laura Homestead and looked around the homestead, which is enclosed by fencing so we could not enter the building. The outlying farm buildings were open and there was an information board with the history of the Homestead and many photos. We realised the hard life living here would have been for the women and the families.
Wander through the Old Laura Homestead and read about Fergus O’Beirne, a young Irish immigrant who bought the Laura Station lease (12,800ha) in 1879 for just over £8. By 1894 he had over 8000 head of cattle—the success due largely to the contribution of the Aboriginal workers.
When Patrick Bernard and David Grogan took over the lease in 1925, they improved and added to the homestead and outbuildings. The Lakefield Cattle Company purchased the Laura and Lakefield properties in 1966, but abandoned Old Laura Homestead in favour of New Laura, 24km north. The homestead fell into disrepair.
In 1978, the Queensland Government purchased both stations and volunteers restored the homestead and the outbuildings, which are now recognised on the Queensland Heritage Register.
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