Stannary Hills derives its name from the Latin word for tin (Stannum) and was surveyed on 7th September 1903 by M. Amos.
The tin deposits were first found in this area in 1884 by Willie Joss on the Middle Walsh River, now Eureka Creek (the Third Walsh was Emu Creek). The initial campsite here was the 14 Mile, then the town was known as ‘Eureka’ after the creek on which it was situated.
The Stannary Hills Tramway and mining company opened up their 2 foot gauge tramway on 9th May 1902. This line ran from Stannary Hills up Eureka Creek to Boonmoo on the Cairns-Mareeba-Chillagoe line. C.T. Stephans was the engineer who laid the tramway at an average grade of 1 in 40. A spur line was opened to their new battery at Rocky Bluff on 18th November 1902 and dismantled by 1926.
In 1920 the town had five hotels being Mrs E. Devlin’s (previously S. P. Rundles) Federal, Mrs D. Kelly’s Commercial, Still’s (previously J. Tierney’s) Imperial, Mrs Greene’s Stannary Hills and Mrs Peter’s Eureka. The town also had several general stores (Brown and Yet Lee), a baker (Brown), butcher (Kelly), fruiterer (Jackson), cordial factory (Rhule and Farelly, previously owned by Spence), tobacconist, hospital, post office, police station and school.
Sports were also strong in Stannary Hills with a tennis club and cricket and football teams playing the surrounding towns. The first battery was erected around 1888 but ceased in 1893; with a larger battery being erected at Rocky Bluff on the Walsh River in 1902-3 and operating until 1925. This battery was a 33-head one capable of crushing 100 tons a day. A small battery was also erected on the You and Me mine and operated from 1921 to 1924.
The Stannary Hills line closed in 1936 and the railway dismantled in 1941-42.
At its peak the population was around 724 shrinking to 466 by 1910. By 1948 the last hotel had been removed and the town was disappearing. The post office existed until 1955.
The dam, telephone posts and foundations are all that remain today.
Text taken from:
1. Welcome to Irvinebank website - ( www.irvinebank.org.au No Longer Online as at 1 Aug 2014)
2. ‘Angor to Zillmanton: stories of North Queensland’s deserted towns’ by Colin Hooper (2002).