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Upcoming Centenary Celebrations – of First Car Crossing the Kuranda Range

By September 1, 2022No Comments


Upcoming Centenary Celebrations – Of First Car Crossing the Kuranda Range 10 am to Noon

3rd September 2022


Primary contacts

Dr Peter Ryle – 0429727929,

Kuranda Historian who has researched the event

Cr Brett Moller – 0417609656,

Cairns Councillor, grandson of William Moller who made the journey

Secondary contacts

Julie White. 07 4099 3443

President, Cairns & District Historic Vehicle Club

Anne Clarke – 0418772380

President Kuranda Historical Society



September 3 this year will be exactly 100 years since the first motor vehicle drove over the range from Smithfield to Kuranda.

Bill Moller, a cane farmer from Behana, drove over the range in his six-cylinder Overland vehicle with a party of four men. He was accompanied by J. Bartley, W. Vievers, R. Vievers, and J. Leahy. They left Smithfield at 10. 15. a.m. and arrived at the crossing of the Barron River at 2. p.m. Travelling time was only two hours thirty minutes, as they stopped at Street’s Creek for lunch.  Mr Moller received an enthusiastic welcome when he reached Kuranda. Next day they drove on to Mareeba and arrived in the early evening. While in Mareeba Moller gave a talk about the trip over the range and described the land along the route from Kuranda to Mareeba. They then travelled back to Cairns by train.

The Kuranda Historical Society will have a commemoration of this important event in Anzac Park on Saturday 3rd  September 2022. The Cairns & District Historic Vehicle Club are bringing some beautiful old vintage cars to park next to Kuranda Centenary Park and  will be in attendance of their vehicles, after doing a lap of the town.

The proceedings will be opened by Craig Crawford MP, followed by the mayor of Mareeba Shire Council Cr Angela Toppin and then Cr Brett Moller (Cairns Regional Councillor and grandson of William Moller) will give us his family’s colourful remembrances of his grandfather’s fear.  Dr Peter Ryle , Kuranda resident and  historian of note will tell us what he has gleaned from all the records of what happened 100 years ago that day.

The Kuranda Historical Society office in Kuranda’s Centenary Park will be open on the day.  It will be an excellent opportunity to learn about and see aspects of Kuranda’s unique history from the photos, paintings by past well known Kuranda artists and other information on display.

There will be raffle and a sausage sizzle.  Great raffle prizes are coming  from the Kuranda’s Distil  on the Hill, Peter Thompson ceramics, Frogs Restaurant dinner vouchers, cool gear from Just Gorgeous and plenty more from Kuranda’s generous local businesses.   All the yummy Sausage Sizzle food will come from the new Kuranda Cornetts IGA

The William Moller team’s family members, the Local Kuranda District College and our Djabugay traditional owners have all been invited to the event so it should be an exciting morning of revelations and tale telling.

If  anyone has any information on this important event, including photographs or stories from family connections, can they please contact Peter Ryle on 0429727929.

Dates and facts of Bill Moller’s Trip Over the Kuranda Range 3rd September 1922

13 August 1922 Moller makes first attempt to drive over the range. Had to turn back after reaching about two-thirds of way up. Fallen trees in way and some repairs needed to track. Moller asks Kuranda Progress Association to help clear the road and they agree. Road cleared by volunteers.

3 September 1922 Moller and four companions cross the range in 2 hours 30 minutes travelling time. Left Smithfield at 10.15 a.m. and arrived at Street’s Creek at 12.15 p.m. Had lunch and started again at 1.30 p.m. arrived at crossing of Barron River at 2.00 p.m. his passengers were W Vievers, R. Vievers, J. Bartley, and J. Leahy.

Next day they drove to Mareeba, arriving early evening. Moller gave a talk about the trip to Mareeba residents, and they returned to Cairns by train.

One of Moller’s passengers, J. Leahy, rode an army Indian motor bike over the range on 23 August 1922.

William Moller with his Overland car outside the Remilton’s Hotel (original Bottom Pub) in Kuranda (Image courtesy Brett Moller)

Photo William Moller and team after crossing on left bank of the Barron River (image courtesy Brett Moller)

William Moller and his team strip down to cross the Barron River  near Kuranda (image courtesy Brett Moller)