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Cairns Chamber History

The Cairns business community first came together in 1886 with a view to forming a Chamber of Commerce. Outspoken and hard headed businessman, Richard Kingsford, became the inaugural mayor of Cairns Municipal Council in 1885. Kingsford, Grandfather of famous aviator Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, served with a small band of civic leaders on the town's progress association, which was the forerunner of the Cairns Chamber of Commerce.

Moves to form a chamber flowed from a public meeting at the Hides and McCall hotel in May 1886.

Among the urgent items on the agenda were:

  • Dredging a deep channel access into Trinity Inlet to allow bigger cargo vessels to navigate the new port
  • The impact of Chinese immigration
  • Extension of much needed telegraph services in the area
  • The completion of the Cairns to Tableland rail line, which began in 1881, and pushing this through to Herberton

The Cairns Chamber as we know it today was formed with the adoption of a constitution on 8 October 1909, when the population of Cairns was 5,000. The manager of the local branch of Queensland National Bank, James Alison, accepted nomination as the Chamber President at time of constitution, which saw the introduction of monthly meetings and an immediate drive to recruit new members.

Land issues, potential trade with Papua New Guinea, the need for better courthouse services, fishing, timber and sugar industry problems were addressed by the Cairns Chamber during its first official year. During Mr Alison's one-year term in office, the Cairns Chamber also welcomed the establishment of the first butter factory on the Tablelands (Atherton).