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he used to do the burning of the lime. They cleared a big slope of hill for
firewood and it has since grown up again. […] They had a portable tramline,
like this tramline here [ indicates a nearby cane track ] […]. The portable rail
is only 20 pounds and it will take the same size wheels, so they had small
trucks to cart these blocks away. There are still two big heaps of them over
there that they never got around to burning. The coral was about two foot
[…]: some would be a metre long. There are two big rows of them where they
brought them round by boat, put them up there, and the business folded up
before they could use them all . 11
The positions of the lime kiln, the tramline and the two mounds of coral pieces
are shown in Figure 11.3.
Additional details about the process of removing and burning the coral from
the fringing reefs were provided by the same informant, who stated:
They had railway lines to bring the wood down […] and they had the rail
there and a turntable would come there [ indicates map ]. They dropped [the
coral] into a hole and they had rail line going there and down the beach.
There are big heaps of coral: a strong man would be able to pick them up and
carry them. Of course, it was dead coral they got from around the fringing
reef […]; and they could go out and bust it open with crowbars, carry it back
and put it in [the lime kiln]. […] The heaps of stone are still there and, if
you know where to look, you can see the big hole in the side of the hill that
they used to tip this wood into and then put these stones on top so [the coral]
would burn, and then they could crush it . 12
The operation at Snapper Island pre-dated the system of coral licences introduced
by the QDHM and represents a second example of unregulated coral mining in
the Great Barrier Reef.
The amount of coral taken from the reef is unknown because, as an informant
stated: 'He could have taken it from here for years […]. These rails down the
beach were there for a long time after the War, and they disappeared all of a
sudden '. 13 However, some evidence of the scale of the operation remains in the
landscape, as the informant stated:
If you went over to look at the heaps of coral, […] you could see the heaps of
stone; you could see the incinerator - the place where they burnt it - and you
could see the rails, the cutting in the hill and where they had their turntable
[...]. You could see all that . 14
After Tyrie concluded mining at Snapper Island, one informant believed, he
moved to the Daintree settlement and sought lime from another source. The
informant suggested that a terrestrial source of lime replaced the material taken
from Snapper Island reef after the lime burner ceased operating there; he stated:
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