Cairns QueenslandCape York PeninsulaEFFINCUEfar north Queensland


HG COMIn 1969, a group of far north Queensland artists began a search for Hells Gate – a by-then lost location at the heart of the Palmer River gold rush 100 years earlier.

Percy Trezise, Dick Roughsey, Ray Crooke and anthropologist Frank Woolsten went in to tough country in the Kennedy Creek region of Cape York Peninsula, at the start of a lengthy exploration of history, country and story. The saga of that long journey is eloquently told in an exhibition at Cairns Regional Gallery – Searching for Hells Gate.

Hells Gate was a pass in the Great Dividing Range and a significant short cut on the journey from the Palmer River goldfields back to Cooktown, the closest town and port. As the name implies, it was a hellish place, very difficult to traverse and the ideal place to ambush a prospector and relieve him of his gold. Hells Gate became part of the mythology of the gold rush, but its precise location was forgotten by the early 1900s.

One of many books by Percy Trezise
One of many books by Percy Trezise on FNQ rock art


In 1969, Percy, Dick and Raye set out to find Hells Gate – it was the start of a long creative friendship, an exploration of indigenous and European Cape York history, and the creation of some tremendous art.

LISTEN to Percy Trezise and curator Justin Bishop.




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