Edmonton, an outer southern suburb of Cairns, is on the Bruce Highway 10 km from the city centre. It is situated on a wet coastal plain into which Trinity Inlet intrudes. In 1880 it was identified by a Melbourne biscuit manufacturer as a suitable place to produce sugar.

The biscuit manufacturer was Thomas Swallow, born in Reading, England, near Hambleden. Swallow and Ariell were also flour millers and sugar refiners, and in 1882 Swallow established the Hambledon plantation west of Edmonton. (The reason for spelling the last syllable with an 'o' is unrecorded). The Hambledon mill was opened in 1883 and the sugar was taken by horse-drawn tram to Swallow's Wharf at the end of Trinity Inlet. Swallow's investment in Hambledon sugar growing and refining – the colossal sum of £180 000 – saved the district from stagnation, but put the firm in financial difficulties. The refinery was bought by the Mayor of Cairns on a lease-back arrangement, but made little or no profit, and was disposed of to CSR in 1897 for £60,000.

The Hambledon primary school (first named Blackfellow's Creek) was opened in 1887 and moved to half way between the mill and the railway junction in 1910. The Hambledon Hotel was opened nearby at about the same time.

By 1897 the Cairns local government divisional board had built a tramway (actually a 3 feet 6 inches gauge railway) to Gordonvale. A CSR line joined the tramway at Hambledon Junction. Confusion between Hambledon Mill and the Hambledon Junction railway station led to the local progress association proposing to change the station's name to Edmonton, the birthplace in Birmingham of one of the association's members. The change was officially made in 1914.

The Hambledon Mill's output was roughly equal to each of the central mills at Gordonvale and Babinda, but during the 1970s-80s urban growth increasingly hemmed it in. In 1991 the mill was closed and demolished. Sugarworld Water Slides, already on part of the mill's site, continued operation. The park's slides were declared unsafe in April 2010, prompting closure and redevelopment. Sugarworld re-opened in Edmonton in December 2011 after a major overhaul. 

Edmonton has several linear parks along its waterways, a swimming pool, a bowling club, Catholic (1929) and State primary (1887, 1998) schools, a comprehensive local shopping centre and a steadily growing residential area. In about 2000 the part of Edmonton north of Blackfellows Creek was detached as a new suburb, Bentley Park.

Edmonton's census populations have been:

Census DatePopulation
1921262
1933705
19541476
19761636
19862643
19913262
20068035
20119934

John Elliott, Hambledon memories, Toowoomba, Promotion Company, 1991

Hambledon State School ... 1887-1987, Edmonton, Hambledon State School Centenary Committee, 1987

Bentley Park entry

Headwords: 
Copyright © Centre for the Government of Queensland, 2018. All rights reserved.
UQ Logo