Lockhart River, a remote town of 450 people, is on the east coast of Cape York Peninsula, directly east of Weipa. The river was named by Robert Logan Jack, government geologist, after an acquaintance, Hugh Lockhart.
Lockhart River is on Lloyd Bay, and in the 1920s the Aboriginal people were disrupted by Japanese seamen and a local white trader and 'uncrowned king', Hugh Giblet. They attracted the attention of the Anglican Church which, after the death of Giblet, established a mission (1924) at a site south of the present town.
The mission was overlooked by Iron Range which had various mine workings in the 1930s. A jetty was built on Lloyd Bay. With the Japanese invasion of Papua and a prospective invasion of northern Australia the mission staff were evacuated in 1940 and the remaining inhabitants left to fend for themselves. Large airbases were built at the foot of Iron Range, and the relatively well supplied forces helped with the survival of the local inhabitants.
The mission was re-established in 1947. A co-operative was formed to establish new industries (trochus and pearl shell, cattle, vegetable growing) and a large church was built (1953). In 1967 the Anglican church handed the mission to the Queensland Government, ushering in a period of maladministration and, worse, an attempt at forced removal. The situation was corrected in 1987 with a Deed of Grant in Trust in favour the Aboriginal Community.
In the 1990s the Lockhart River 'Art gang' was formed, and an Arts Centre was opened in 1997. Their paintings have gained national recognition. In 2001 a freehold grant of 354,000 ha was made by the Queensland Government to an Aboriginal trust, and this was complemented by the establishment of a shire council. A notable civic gesture was the building of a handsome war memorial at Iron Range in 2005.
Lockhart River has a store, a P-7 school, a health centre, an Anglican church and hall, a guest house, an airfield and a library centre. A town farm grows fruit and vegetables.
Lockhart River's census populations have been:
In 2006 the residents' median age was 25 years, compared with 37 for Australia.
Denise Hagan, ed, Lockhart River community plan 2004-2008: empowering the community - working together, Lockhart River, Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council, 2005
John Warby, You-me mates eh!, North Rockhampton, John Warby, 2000