James MorrillPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by John Huth

An obelisk over the grave commemorates James Morrill, a sailor on the barque Peruvian who was washed ashore in 1846, following a shipwreck. The Royal Historical Society and Museum erected the monument for Australia Day in 1964. 

Other survivors gradually died but Morrill survived, living with local Aborigines for seventeen years. In 1863, he made contact with some shepherds near Inkerman station calling out "Don`t shoot, I`m a British object." James Morrill wrote later that he meant to say "British subject" but after 17 years living with an Aboriginal tribe in the bush he had almost lost his own language.

Appointed to the Department of Customs at Bowen, Morrill returned to North Queensland, where his knowledge and experience of the Aboriginals made him much in demand as interpreter and go-between and often promoted peaceful conciliation. His knowledge of the country and its seasonal variations was often consulted by squatters and explorers. In January 1864 he accompanied George Dalrymple on the expedition to open the port of Cardwell, and in April 1865 he was in charge of the Ariel bringing the first cargo of bonded goods to the settlement on Cleveland Bay which later became Townsville. But his privations during his years of wandering had weakened his health, and on 30 October 1865 he died at Bowen. Aboriginals for many miles around came into town for a memorable mourning ceremony.


Address:Richmond Road, Cemetery, Bowen, 4805
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -20.000222
Long: 148.233119
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Monument Manufacturer:Royal Historical Society of Queensland


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Wednesday 30th October, 1963
Front Inscription

In memory of James Morrill

Aged 41 years.

Shipwrecked mariner who lived 17 years with Aborigines and thus is the first known white resident in North Queensland.

Died in Bowen, 30 October 1865

Erected by the Bowen Historical Society

30 October 1963


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