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Mary Watson Fountain
Mary Watson Fountain

Photographs supplied by Diane Watson / Russell Byers / Ian Bevege

A fountain commemorates Mary Watson, who died with her baby and a Chinese servant from lack of water after escaping from Lizard Island after an attack by aborigines.

The wife of a beche-de-mer fisherman, Captain R. F. Watson, she remained on their fishing station with her infant son and two Chinese servants while he was away fishing. In September 1881 they were attacked by Aboriginals. One of the servants was speared, but Mrs. Watson and her infant son and remaining Chinese servant escaped in a boiling down tank to Number 5 Island.

Due to dehydration, as there was no fresh water, they finally perished. Their remains, together with her diary, were found in 1882. Public subscriptions were called for a memorial which was erected by the Municipal Council in 1886 at the cost of 165 pounds. Perhaps more than for many other memorials, the inclusion of a drinking fountain was appropriate. As Cooktown at that time had no reticulated water, a water tank had to be built for the fountain.

Thursday, February 25. The official unveiling of the memorial to Mrs Watson, in the shape of a drinking fountain took place this afternoon, before a large concourse of people.  The battery of artillery, with the fire brigade band, and a large number of school children were present. The Mayor (Mr. John Davis), in a very appropriate speech, gave a short résumé of the circumstances connected with the death of the heroine and Miss Alice Newman, who was the first female born in Cooktown then untied the flags, the band meanwhile playing "God Save the Queen." 
Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld),
27 February 1886. 


Address:Charlotte Street, Cooktown, 4895
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -15.468889
Long: 145.249722
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Fountain
Monument Theme:Conflict
Monument Manufacturer:S. Greenway (Ipswich)


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Thursday 25th February, 1886
Front Inscription


The Heroine of Lizard Island, Cooktown, North Queensland,A.D. 1881

Erected 1886      

Edward D`Arcy,
Mayor 1885.

Back Inscription
Five Fearful Days Beneath
The Scorching Glare
Her Babe She Nursed
God Knows The Pangs That
Woman Had To Bear,
Whose Last Sad Entry Showed
A Mother's Care
Then - "Near Dead With Thirst."
John Davis, Mayor 1886
Source: MA,NRUM
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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