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Palm Cove – A History

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With palm trees dotted along the pristine coastline, and ancient melaleucas lining the esplanade, Palm Cove welcomes you into a world of relaxation and recuperation. The image invoked when you think of a tropical beachside holiday is this idyllic destination. And while on the surface, Palm Cove may look like a sleepy beach village, there is a lot more to this fabulous town than meets the eye.

When you’re in Palm Cove you are at the centre of a region that is vast and diverse, one that is drenched in a history rich with tradition. You’re also within a stone’s throw of some of the most unique and stunning natural wonders in the world. But don’t just take our word for it here, read on to learn all there is to know about Palm Cove. By the time we’re done, you’ll be wondering why you don’t live here.

Take a step back in time…

While the beachside coastal location of Palm Cove has this ability to cast an almost instantaneous spell of relaxation over you from the moment you arrive, it might surprise you to learn that Palm Cove has seen its fair share of action over the years, with many notable events of historical significance taking place in this area.

Like much of Australia, Palm Cove too was originally inhabited by Aboriginal people. Situated in the Tjapukai traditional Aboriginal country, Palm Cove is believed to been inhabited as far back as 60,000 years.

In more recent history, Captain Cook is said to have made a stop at Palm Cove to replenish his water supply before continuing his journey to Cape Tribulation.

However, the landing in Palm Cove that is most known is that of G.E Dalrymple.  His Northeast Coast Expedition saw him, and his crew arrive at Palm Cove in 1873.  However, while they may have been expecting a celebrated arrival, the local indigenous people were far from celebratory, rather their arrival sparked an attack that became to be known as one of the largest documented beachfront invasions known in Australian History.

Palm Cove gets its first sole owner…

Ownership of the area is thought to have changed hands numerous times, but one of the most notable owners, and the first known sole owner of the village, is also thought to be the very reason Palm Cove has the much photographed and very instagrammable palm trees that line the beach. Archdeacon Campbell is the man thought to be responsible for planting these palm trees, as he was known to have an interest in crop and soil production and management.

Just prior to World War One, in 1918, Albert Veivers purchased the town from Archdeacon Campbell. The purchase by the Veivers family saw some advancements in the development of the area. At the time of purchase, no roads led to Palm Cove, rather it had to be reached by foot or horse. However, upon Albert’s wife, Elizabeth’s suggestion, a road was built, with the aim to make the town more accessible which would improve the property value of the area.

Not long after the Veiver’s purchase of Palm Cove, the first beach front structure was built. And this structure was enjoyed by many of the Veiver family members who lived in the local surroundings, in places like Kuranda, Red Lynch and Speewah.

Some 20 years later, in the 1940s, Albert Veiver decided it was time to make Palm Cove his permanent residence.  He rid himself of his home in Oaks Forest and made his move to Palm Cove. He built a home on the corner of Veivers Road and Williams Esplanade. Unfortunately, it was not too much later that Albert passed away.

It was around this same time, during the later years of WWII, that Palm Cove was used a training base of sorts for the Australian Army. This saw islands just off the coast, Double Island and Haycock Island being used as training targets, which led to the presence of mines in the area from the missiles used.

Time for change…

A need for development of Palm Cove became evident in these later war years, and immediately after, as word of Palm Cove had gotten out.  This was in part because of attention being directed to the area from the excitement of mines washing up on the beaches of the area and word of mouth of the beauty of the area.

As more people began travelling to the area, the push for development to accommodate the number of people visiting and settling in the area saw the creation of the Progression Association. One of the first acts of the Progression Association was to give Palm Cove its name. You see, all this time, Palm Cove was known by either Double Island or Palm Beach but given there were already other nearby places with those names, it was decided that a new name was needed.

Due to the presence of those palm trees lining the beach and the way it is slightly hidden, Palm Cove was chosen as the moniker and while it was known as Palm Cove by many, it wasn’t formally named until 1980!

The birth of the Reef House…

The next steps of developing Palm Cove saw the building of structures in Palm Cove, one of the earliest being the Reef House. It was in the 1950s, 1958 to be exact, that the Reef House was born. Built by a Cairns Bookmaker, the Reef House was initially built as a private family residence. As time passed, the Reef House changed hands, from the bookmaker to a syndicate who opened the property as a restaurant with limited garden suite accommodation.

In 1972, it landed in the hands of The Honourable David Thomson, a Brigadier, who would go on to become the federal minister for science and technology.

The Brigadier used the property as a private residence where he treated those who visited as personal guests, even giving them full access to the bar where in an officer’s mess tradition, they could help themselves to the accruements of the bar and using their honesty system, record what they took.

This tradition still stands at the Reef House today – learn more about this tradition as well as many other amazing features and activities you have access to when you stay at the Reef House.

In the 1980s, tourism grew, with more hotels and resorts popping up, but most notably, access to the area was made so much easier with the development of an airport in nearby Cairns. Tropical North Queensland became an in-demand holiday destination, so in 1984, the airport was opened in Cairns to help meet this demand. The Cairns Airport is located only 25 minutes away, and this made getting to Palm Cove so much more convenient.

Palm Cove Today

In a region that is truly brimming with holiday destinations, you might ask why you would choose Palm Cove over any other Tropical North Queensland holiday destination?

And the answer is simple! While the entire region of TNQ will leave you speechless and with lasting memories, the beauty of Palm Cove is that it is utterly unique, able to meet the needs of all visitors, young and old. It is the place where no matter what your idea of what a holiday is, your expectations can not only be met, but also exceeded here.

Palm Cove today still retains the laid-back beachside village lifestyle of yesteryear with some modern twists. With shopping boutiques, cafes and restaurants lining the small village, you can spend a day exploring the local area by foot or by bike. Or you can spend a day lying by the beach or pool, enjoying the weather and incredible vistas you will experience at every angle.

But if you take a step outside Palm Cove, you are spoiled for choice of what you can see or do at every turn. If you want to see the sights, take part in action and adventure, or immerse yourself in nature, the small beachside community of Palm Cove is still the right place to be.

You see, Palm Cove is one of the few places that is spoiled with natural wonders, literally at every direction. You’ve probably heard the saying “where the rainforest meets the reef” and that’s what you get here, only it’s not just some rainforest or any old reef, it’s the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics, both Heritage listed sights, and both so close that a day trip to either or both is not out of the question. In fact, basing yourself in Palm Cove ensures that you are between two of the larger towns that run tours to these places, which usually means that you can be picked up along the way.

Possible experiences you can enjoy when you stay in Palm Cove include Plane & Helicopter flights over the great barrier reef; Safaris into the rainforest; Boat rides – from small glass-bottomed boats, to private yachts; Train-rides through rainforests and snorkeling and diving adventures to meet the marine wildlife.  For more information on some of these unique ways you can experience the area click here.

The juxtaposition of the palm trees that line the beach and the ancient melaleucas you can find scattered around the village, is the perfect way to describe Palm Cove – this little seaside village is the place that can offer something to all modes of holiday makers.  From the high action adrenaline junkies to the R&R seekers, Palm Cove is your starting point to explore all that Tropical North Queensland has to offer. And the best part is, when you come out the other side of your time here in Palm Cove, you’re going to feel reinvigorated and ready to take on the world, though, you probably won’t want to leave!

Stay with us at the Reef House

We got a mention a little earlier, but when you come to stay in Palm Cove, it’s hard to look past us here at the Reef House.  Our boutique beachfront hotel and our colonial style property manages to combine modern amenities without forgetting where we came from. Take part in our daily activities and end your day with complete relaxation and privacy in your own room, apartment, or suite, where you can watch the sunset from the comfort of your own balcony.

Come visit Palm Cove today.

Isabelle Neil - Spa Director

Originally from Switzerland, Isabelle was trained in France by the crème de la crème; Clarins, Chanel, Dior & Phytomer, specialising in intensive therapies such as anti-ageing, deep relaxation massage and slimming treatments. Isabelle was the Managing Director of the first privately owned Christian Dior Spa on the Caribbean island of Saint Maarten. Isabelle’s extensive experience has taken her all around the world as a pioneer in providing anti-ageing facial treatments.

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