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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Historic Images from Qld State Library

Proserpine 1937
Main Street Proserpine looking west
Proserpine 1924
Proserpine State School
Proserpine 1906
Main Street.
Proserpine River 1899
Boat approaching wharf on Proserpine River
Proserpine 1926
Businesses along Main Street
Proserpine Sugar Mill 1921
Cane trucks outside Proserpine Central Sugar Mill
Proserpine 1915
Main Street.
Proserpine Railway 1923
Decorated Locomotive arrives 1923
Proserpine 1930
Main Street, Corner Mill Street
Proserpine 1938
Eldorado Theatre
Proserpine 1920
Main Street looking towards Fausts
Proserpine 1916
Methodist Church


StateLibQld 1 158746 Businesses in Main Street Proserpine in the 1930sI was orinally thought that the name Proserpine was named was given by the explorer and later, Member of the Legislative House of Queensland, George Augustus Frederick Elphinstone Dalrymple , after traversing the area in his journey northward to Bowen and beyond.


The Proserpine comes from "Persephone" the Greek goddess  (or "Prosperpina" the Roman goddess of fertility) and 'Proserpine' is the Anglicised version. Later research suggests that Dalrymple did not traverse the Proserpine area in any of his explorations, and the name may have originated with the Proserpine Creek pastoral run (1861).

The town was founded around 1890 just after the sugar mill was constructed. The Postal Office opened in 1886. The town experienced high growth in the 1900s as the local sugar industry grew and exported raw sugar via the Proserpine Landing from here it was sent to refineries. At this time it was the fastest growing regional town in Queensland. By about the 1940s with the onset of World War 2 the towns growth started to slow.

Proserpine is a town rich in heritage and can trace its history back many generations to the pioneer days when this area was being opened by men and women of courage who faced incredible odds to carve out an existence in this rich and fertile region. No wonder sugar cane has thrived so well is this area.

Today, Proserpine, the administrative center of the Whitsunday shire, cares for needs of the greater Whitsunday region. Places like Airlie Beach, Cannonvale, Conway, Wilson Beach, Jubilee Pocket, Shute Harbour and Australia's fabulous tourist destination the Whitsunday Islands such as Hayman Island, Hamilton Island, South Molle Island, Daydream Island etc.,  all fall under the protective umbrella of Proserpine's service based industry. 

Proserpine is situated on the Proserpine river about 15km upriver and on the Bruce Highway 125km north of Mackay and 275km south of Townsville.

The greater Whitsunday shire at the last count has over 14,300 inhabitants, of which approximately only 4,500 live in Proserpine itself.

millThe Proserpine township is dominated by The Proserpine Co-operative Sugar Mill (Now Wilmar Sugar Mill), which processes the region 2,000,000+ tons of sugar cane each year to produce in the vicinity of 285,000 metric tons of raw sugar which is all exported.

 Sugar plantations were first begun in the 1880s which was all done by manual labour. Italian immigrants were among the first sugarcane farmers and their story is available in a newly published book "A Heart in Two Places". The sugarcane was originally harvested by hand, and Kanakas (Torres Straight Islanders etc.) were brought to do the backbreaking work, a far cry from today's mechanized and air-conditioned harvesters which can cut more than 1 ton of cane a minute.

 For more archival photos see the following facebookbook page: https://www.facebook.com/proserpine.info.