Somerset Australia


Somerset is one of the greatest historical places in Australia.

It was the earliest permanent white settlement on the Cape York peninsula, and the only one for a very long time.

It was the first administrative centre for the Cape York and Torres Strait area, in the most isolated and violent place in Australia.


While it didn't quite turn into the town of the size it was planned, there is definitely a lot of stories and a lot of history in this very interesting place.

somerset australia

somerset hill

somerset camp

somerset camping

somerset grave

somerset police jardine
Torres Strait and Cape York used to be very dangerous places, with the Kaurarega head hunters attacking ship wrecks and the mainland tribes also still being cannibals.

About a decade after Kennedy spearing, lots of lives were still being lost, particularly on the ships, and there really was a need for a permanent military establishment to stop the violence.

So finally, in the 1860s, the decision was made and the police magistrate to be was John Jardine from Rockhampton.

He was amongst the people who arrived on the ship, while his oldest son Frank Jardine lead up the beef, in Australia's most amazing cattle drive.

The new establishment was built on Somerset Hill, which you can today see in the western end of Somerset Beach.

The cattle was taken to Vallack Point, today on the so-called Beaches Loop Road, or Nathau Beach Drive, where they established a cattle station.

Frank was running the station for years, with father John returning south and being replaced by other police officers.

The tribal attacks and wars continued, and Frank was finally offered the police inspector position, and accepted it.

Some time later he met and married the Samoan princess Sana, and moved briefly to Torres Strait to try pearling, while Somerset had other different police magistrates.

But in 1877 
when the adminstration of Cape York and Torres Strait was moved to Thursday Island, Frank bought Somerset off the Government, returned, and lived there for another 42 years until he passed away, 78 years of age, and Sana died four years later.

After their deaths the homestead was maintained by their children, until the Second World War.

The homestead survived the war, but not a fire in the 1960s, so today you can only imagine it having stood right behind the rusted canons and the old mango tree. Under the tree you can still see some of Sana's rock gardens.

   somerset homestead 


You can also see the old coconut plantation, and down the beach, on the eastern side you can still see the homestead's well.

   somerset well 

In the middle of the beach you can see the remains of the old slipway,

   somerset beach

... and on the other, western side, are the graves of Frank and Sana, along with a few others.

   somerset jardine grave somerset vidgen grave

At the western end of the beach, at low tide you can climb the rocks of the headland,

   somerset beach rock walk

... and you come to a cave,

   somerset beach cave

... with some Aboriginal rock paintings.

   aboriginal rock paintings 

That's about what there is to see at Somerset and the beach, but it's also a beautiful place just to relax, and there is more in the area.

If you are interested in Frank Jardine's history, you can go out to Vallack Point, where he had his cattle station.

It is along the so-called Beaches Loop Road, aka Nathau Beach Drive, which is a nice four wheel drive anyway
.





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cape york mechanics

portland roads

west coast hotel cooktown

cape york businesses

A little off the most beaten track, but you can still get some of these into your annual leave length of a trip (you can get most if you have all the details to plan right):

You find them all in the Site Map, along with all the other pages on the site and many more great gems :-)

Old Coach Road

old coach road

Frenchmans Track

frenchmans track

CREB Track

creb track

Falls Track

falls track

Starcke Wakooka Track

starcke wakooka track

Bathurst Head

bathurst head

Running Creek Track

running creek track

Silver Plains

silver plains

Old Coen Track

old coen road

Pennefather

pennefather

Stones Crossing

stones crossing


Skardon River

skardon river

Jardine River Ford

jardine river ford

Ussher Point

ussher point

Sadd Point

sadd point

Mutee Head and Jardine Mouth


mutee head

Escape River and Newcastle Bay 

escape river

Five Beaches Track


beaches loop road

Roko Island Pearl Farm

roko island

Friday Island Pearl Farm

friday island