Ayton is a good spot to revive your spirits. Strategically placed on the Cooktown to Cape Tribulation road known as The Bloomfield Track there’s a store, cafe, takeaway, campground and accommodation.
Head down to the beautiful hidden treasure of Weary Bay beach your worries will be washed away. Hire a dinghy or use a boatman to take you to secluded Cedar Bay National Park for isolated camping.
Yachts anchor on the wide river, an irregular air service flies to Pepper Bloomfield Lodge across the Bay. Ayton was originally established as a service centre for a burgeoning sugar plantation in 1882.
Northern Queensland’s first sugar mill was built and a narrow gauged rail line linked old Ayton wharf. Provisions were transported by far north Queensland’s first locomotive for export by sea.
At one time hundreds of workers were employed English, Chinese, Italian and Japanese and local Kuku Yalanji people. Ayton thrived, selections were taken up by entrepreneurial families and Torres Strait trepang and trochus hunters settled here. But by 1897 it came crashing down because of high costs. Operations were sold and moved to Bundaberg.
Determined to squeeze money from the land, ‘red gold’ or Red Cedar was the next industry. Cutting began in 1890 with horse teams dragging logs to a riverbank chute. Rafts were floated downstream and taken by vessel to Townsville. The wood ended up at the gold rich city of Charters Towers, lining the floors of wealthy miner mansions.