The mountain is certainly significant for the Aborigines. Kalkajaka is what they call it, the name meaning the place of the spear or more loosely translated as mountains of death. The Aboriginal stories of how it evolved certainly add to mystery of this incredible mountain range. The Aboriginal belief is that the mountain originated in the dreamtime with a man, being similar to a medicine man and also a chameleon, who had the taste for human flesh. He killed and ate a young chief and so was banished and fled to the mountains, occasionally surfacing to eat a human or two from his own tribe. On his last venture out of the mountains he turned into a goanna to escape his angry fellow tribe members and had the misfortune of being struck by lightening. Being no ordinary goanna he exploded and left large piles of charred rock everywhere. Another belief of how the mountain became is that two brothers were fighting over a girl and were attempting to kill each other by rolling these black rocks down from the hills. The rocks eventually piled up as more and more were thrown, creating the Black Mountain A ravine located near the Black Mountain was the site of a massacre of Aboriginal people by European settlers, maybe the ghost of the murdered Aborigines haunts it, taking revenge on the white man for his atrocities upon them. Many unexplained and mysterious disappearances have been attributed to these black mountains. Both humans and cattle have wandered into the vicinity of the black mountains and disappeared without a trace never to return. The first record of a mysterious disappearance was In 1877. A carrier, along with his horse, was out searching for some bullocks that had strayed into the boulders. He, his bullocks and his horse were never seen again. Thirteen years later, Constable Ryan, stationed at Cooktown, tracked a wanted criminal to the scrub at the edge of the mountains. He ventured into one of the caves and along with the criminal both disappeared.
A Prospector named Renn went in - never came out.
Harry Owens, a local station owner of Oakey Creek rode over towards black Mountain early one morning looking for stray cattle. When he did not return his partner went looking for him, first informing the local native Police Sergeant. Both men failed to return and the police set out to comb the mountain in an attempt to find them. Two of the native police entered one of the caves, one of them came out and was so unnerved by his experience that he could not give a clear account of what had actually happened to him. In 1932 a packer by the name of Harry Page disappeared and was found dead after a search by a black tracker. Two young men set out to solve the mystery behind the disappearances, they also were never seen again. Black trackers went in after them but even they succumbed to the great black mountains. All disappeared without a trace. All disappearances were thoroughly investigated by local police who combed the mountain in search of the missing persons. No bodies or even evidence that they were ever there has ever been found. The general thought is that they fell into one of the many deep cervices amongst the boulders, or became disorientated and got lost in the maze of caverns beneath. One man, however, did go in and come out. Being an experienced bushman he entered the caves armed with a loaded revolver and an electric torch.
His chilling story follows. I stepped into the opening, like other Black Mountain caves it dipped steeply downwards, narrowing as it went. Suddenly I found myself facing a solid wall of rock, but the the right there was a passageway just large enough for me to enter in a stooping position. I moved along it carefully for several yards. The floor was fairly level, the walls of very smooth granite. The passage twisted and turned this way and tat, always sloping deeper into the earth. Presently I began to feel uneasy. A huge bat beat it's wings against me as it passed, however I forced myself on, to push further. Soon my nostrils were filled with a sickly musty stench. Then my torch went out. I was in total darkness. From somewhere, that seemed the bowels of the earth I could hear a faint moaning which was then followed by the flapping of wings of thousands of bats. I began to panic as I groped and floundered back the way I thought I had come. My arms and legs were bleeding from bumps with unseen rocks. My outstretched hands clawed at space, I expected solid walls and floors, but could not find it. At one stage where I had wandered into a side passage, I came to the brink of what was undoubtedly a precipice-judging by the echoes. The air was foul and I felt increasing dizziness. Terrifying thoughts were racing through my mind about giant rock-pythons I have seen around this mountain. As I crawled along, getting weaker and loosing hope of ever coming out alive, I saw a tiny streak of light. It gave me super strength to worm my way towards a small cave mouth half a mile from the one I had entered. Reaching the open air I gulped in lung fulls of it and fell down exhausted. I later found that I had been underground for five hours, most of the time on my hands and knees. A Kings ransom would not induce me to enter those caves again. Another strange thing about the black mountains is that a creature is said to be lurking within. Described as being cat-like it has been spotted clambering over the boulders on quite a few occasions. Now dubbed the Queensland Tiger this beast is attributed to the cattle mauling and disappearances within the vicinity.
By E. Cecil Saint-Smith
Of all the outcrops of granite seen in this district, there is perhaps none which equals in interest that of which the well named Black Mountain is composed. The range is situated 16 miles (25km) south of Cooktown. When viewed from a distance this mountain has a very black appearance, due to the deposit of a very thin coating of iron and manganese oxides on the huge boulders of grey granite, of which the elevated area is formed. From a distance Black Mountain gives the appearance of a huge dyke of basic rock, and not until the hills are actually examined is one aware of the fact that they are of granite composition. The outstanding feature of this extraordinary occurrance is the entire absence of soil on the surface, the mountain being composed of cyclpean boulders perched on top of one another, commencing at a point 400ft above sea level and continuing to the summit at 1400ft. Huge holes are abundant over the surface of the mountain, representing space between groups of boulders leaning against each other. The very severe task of scaling this range was accomplished by my assistant, Mr. Graff and myself, but I have no desire to renew the visit to the summit. The granite boulders maintain about the size throughout, and not vestige of solid remain over many acres of these piled up boulders. The absence of soil causes the rock to give off a peculiar metallic ring when struck. Towards the summit of the ridge we heard a deafening noise set up by countless frogs: this fact indicated the existence of water among the boulders at no great depth below the surface. A prominent landmark is a rock on top of the summit, which is locally known as the Pillar Box. The road between Cooktown and Cairns crosses this ridge at a low gap some 500ft above sea level.
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