In 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 story of that long journey is eloquently told in an exhibition about to open at the 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 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.
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. :[audio https://rdontheroad.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/blog-hells-gate.mp3|bg=0x0000ff|righticon=0xff0000]
Searching For Hells Gate runs from 29 August – 9 November 2014 at the Cairns Regional Gallery.