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James Venture Mulligan (1837–1907)

from Townsville Daily Bulletin

News has reached Brisbane of the death at Mount Molloy of the well known mining prospector of North Queensland, Mr James Venture Mulligan.

To the present generation the name of deceased is probably regarded much in the light of ancient history, as the pioneering work which brought him most prominently before the public was done over thirty years ago, but since that time he has been a well-known resident of North Queensland and at various times has shown that he still possessed the pluck and faith in the mineral resources of this part of the State which characterised him in the days of the early seventies. Deceased, whose full name was James Venture Mulligan, was born in February 13, 1837, in County Down, Ireland, came to Melbourne, in 1857, and was anxious to join the exploring expedition of Burke and Wills, but was disappointed. He afterwards came to New South Wales, and spent some time on the Peel River Gold Field; thence he went to New England, and there spent about ten years in storekeeping, innkeeping and butchering, seeking for gold, and in other occupations, where he formed many friends and had many relations. When the rush to the Gympie goldfield took place, he went to it overland, and up to 1879 had only once been out of Queensland. There is not a goldfield around Rockhampton on which he has not been. A rush to the Krombit took him there. This he left for the Gilbert, Mount Hogan, Percy and Robinson Rivers, thence to Georgetown, on the Etheridge. The Government having fitted out Hann's party to explore Cape York, and that party not being successful in finding payable gold, reported colours in many places on the Palmer River; he then determined not to go in that direction consequently he went to Charters Towers, and, after forming a small party of three, went again to Georgetown, when after a delay of three weeks he succeeded in finding three other mates, who volunteered to go out to the Palmer River. The following were the names of the whole party:— James Venture Mulligan, James Dowdall, Peter Abelson, Albert Brandt, Alexander Watson, and David Robinson, the two latter dying in the late seventies on the Hodgkinson. After leaving Georgetown, they reached Mount Surprlse (Firth's station), about 8 miles distant. Thence they proceeded to look for the Palmer, a distance of about 150 miles, and about the same distance beyond civilisation. After all the hardships peculiar to exploring new country, and finding payable gold for some forty miles in the bed of the Palmer River, they returned to Georgetown and reported payable gold on September 4, 1873. On the advice of Mr. Mullligan, the Government opened Cooktown, and sent officers to the goldfield. After prospecting and finding gold for 80 miles on the Palmer, and over a radius of 40 miles outside the Palmer, the party obtained the Government reward of £1000. The Government then started an expedition, or rather gave Mulligan £300 as a subsidy, to look for more gold. This subsidy was not enough to find a party in horses; however, they went out for six months, and on their return reported some fine rivers with rich soil and abundance of water and timber: they then applied for a further grant of £500 to allow them to prospect the Hodgkinson, a river he found and named after one of the northern representatives then in the Legislative Assembly, Mr W. O. Hodgkinson, afterwards Minister for Mines. Mulligan was refused the request; so he and two others set out with full supplies, necessary at the time, as the Mitchell River, which they had to cross, was much swollen and not crossable again for four months, so that they were during this time cut off from civilisation. A few of their old mates also came to a branch of the Hodgkinson at the same time, and after being there about six weeks, came upon them one evening at twilight and opened fire on them, thinking they were blacks, neither party suspecting the vicinity of the others. After this they all returned to Cooktown where they reported payable gold, March 9, 1876. The Government again gave Mulligan's party £1000 reward.

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Citation details

'Mulligan, James Venture (1837–1907)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


13 February, 1837
Drumgooland, Down, Ireland


24 August, 1907 (aged 70)
Mount Molloy, Queensland, Australia

Cause of Death


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