Yorkey's Knob, a coastal township of about 2600 people, is 15 km north-west of central Cairns. The township is set behind a prominent rounded headland facing the Coral Sea. It was named after a Yorkshireman who had been an early bêche-de-mer fisherman.
Yorkey - George Lawson - took up a homestead block in the vicinity of Yorkey's Knob in 1886 and became better known for his drinking sprees than his farming. His hard-living life and occasional misadventures became legendary.
In 1920 much of Yorkey's Knob was acquired by William Varley and his wife, Matron Varley (a nursing home proprietor), and they subdivided it into residential allotments. Beachfront houses were erected during the late 1920s and 1930s, and a hotel was opened in about 1927. Matron Varley took over from Yorkey as the place's leading identity, and the main thoroughfare is Varley Street. A progress association was formed, but went into recess during the war when Yorkey's Knob was sufficiently out of town for servicemen to frequent it for unregulated drinking or other shenanigans. Immediately after the war Yorkey's Knob retained its allure, with Sims Esplanade including a walking track around the Knob and overlooked by 'grand circle' homes.
Camping was supervised by the opening of a shire caravan park, and a shark-proof swimming enclosure was installed. With permanent residents numbering nearly 100 a primary school was opened in 1957.
West of the headland the land falls away to a flood-prone watercourse, and the descent was a tangle of scrub. In the 1960s access ways and clearing was affected, leading to the construction of a golf course and the Ray Howarth Park. Added respectability came with a three-level set of units, dubbed the 'wedding cake'. Throughout the post war growth the progress association maintained an active role, choosing to dispose of its hall and to invest the funds in sports amenities (1985). The association also contributed to the installation of a stinger net on the beach.
Yorkey's Knob's population increased more than fourfold during 1971-81, approaching 2000 people in the 1981 census, and steady growth continued during the next twenty years. There are limits to growth because of the lowlands' adjoining watercourses, and subdivisional potential hugs the Yorkey's Knob-Varley Street entrance road. The township includes local shops, a community centre, a sports centre, numerous holiday units and the Half Moon Bay golf club. A marina and boating club are near the bay. A proposed harbour town and Coral Coast resort between Yorkey's and Richters Creeks (1990) did not proceed. The former Innisfail court house (1920), a heritage-listed building, was transported and re-erected in Buckley Street, Yorkeys Knob in 1988. Yorkey's Knob's census populations have been
Between 1986 and 2006 Yorkey's Knob was included with Cairns.
Mary T. Williams, The knob: a history of Yorkey's Knob, Yorkey's Knob, M. Williams, 1988