Normanby WomanPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Ian Bevege

A cross commemorates the Normanby Woman.  

There is some doubt as to whether this woman was a European living with the aboriginals or a pale skinned aboriginal woman.   This is not uncommon in the Torres Strait, Papua New Guinea elsewhere in Melanesia.  

She was enticed away from an Aboriginal Camp by a local storekeeper, mine manager and constable as she was supposed to be a European woman.  The Aborigines attacked and demanded her release.  Shots were fired and in the commotion the woman’s horse bolted and threw her. She died of injuries a short time later on 30th August 1887 in the Cooktown Hospital.

At the inquest she was described as European, however, Cooktown’s medical practitioner Dr Helmuth  Kortum stated that she was apparently aged 60 years or more, her head was that of an Aboriginal woman and he was of no doubt that she belonged to an Aboriginal race from this part of the country.”

The 1880s was a troublesome time with much killing of aboriginals by Native Police and their European officers under Inspector Paul Foelsche who was in charge from 1870 to 1902 as the Gulf Country was opened up for pastoral holdings.  Frank Hann of Lawn Hill (near Mount Isa, west of the Normanby) reported that over 100 aboriginals had been shot on his station in the three years between 1882 and 1885.  


Address:Charlotte & John Streets, Cooktown Cemetery, Cooktown, 4895
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -15.477346
Long: 145.241761
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Cross
Monument Theme:People


Front Inscription

In commemoration of the Normanby Woman

who was buried in the vicinty of this ground in 1880.  No one knew where she came from.. or who she was..

She took her secret with her.

She was a European woman, brought up by the Normanby Aboriginal tribe... (60 km S.W. of Cooktown)

She was captured by the European authorities, and brought to "civilisation" in which she could not survive.


Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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