CAIRNS was put on the international map by visiting fishermen. Before this the town was a sleepy port and the main tourists were Australians who made the long trek north on a narrow sealed road we called The Crystal Highway (littered with broken car windscreen, one every 2 Km).
The story how black marlin were found as they spawned along the edge of the continental shelf is best told by the experts.
The changes to the town of Cairns between 1972 and 1982 were enormous. Free or very cheap vacant land given by the state government allowed international hotel’s and a resort at Port Douglas to be fast-tracked.
Cairns is the major gateway to The Great Barrier Reef. Previously these had been further south Gladstone, especially.
Captain Peter Bristow initially set in motion what was soon to become The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority with the talent of Mrs. Valerie Taylor, based in Sydney, lobbying the media and politicians.
Peter Bristow enlisted the help of his friend Mrs Valerie Taylor to lobby for protection of a small section of reef near Lizard Island known as Cormorant Passage (commonly called The Cod Hole).
It was feared a population of large and tame Potato cod would be wiped out if not given urgent protection.
Others had similar concerns.
Valerie Taylor through her influence was able to get the media and political attention which set in motion the first gazetted protection for the Great Barrier Reef.
For her success Valerie was ‘Ordained a Knight in the Order of the Golden Ark’ by the Prince of the Netherlands, an award which sadly no longer exists for conservation.
© J.H. Harding.
The Most Excellent Order of the Golden Ark (Dutch: Orde van de Gouden Ark) is a Dutch order of merit established in 1971 by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. It is awarded to people for major contributions to nature conservation. Although not awarded by the government of the Netherlands, it is considered by the government as a recognized chivalrous order. Since its inception, over 300 people have been recognised by the award. Now that Prince Bernhard has died, the future of the order is uncertain. (Wikipedia).