Lockhart River is an Aboriginal community on Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, Australia. The population of 800 consists mostly of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, whose descendents were forcibly moved to the area beginning in 1924.
Lockhart River is a coastal Aboriginal community situated on the eastern coast of Cape York Peninsula, approximately level with Weipa. It is 800 km north by road from Cairns & approx. 2550 km by road north of Brisbane. Lockhart River is the northern most town on the east coast of Australia. The community is also located approx. 2 km inland from Quintell Beach and is within the Iron Range National Park. During WW2 the Airport was constructed as a bomber base.
Lockhart River is also the name of a river located 14 km south of the community. The river was named by explorer Robert Logan Jack in January 1880 after a close friend, Hugh Lockhart.
In 1934 people were collected from throughout Cape York and placed on the mission at Lockhart River, which became a centre for the sandalwood trade. When the Second World War broke out the Europeans left and the Aboriginal people were told to go back to the bush and fend for themselves. In 1947 the mission was re-established with drastic changes inflicted on how the people should live and behave. In particular, tribal groups were forced to combine into a single community.
In 1964 the church handed over the mission to the Queensland Government who tried to relocate the people to Bamaga. The people refused to go but in 1971 were forced to move away from the traditional area of the coast. No consideration was given to traditional owners of the land and this move resulted in much discontent and friction.
The community has DOGIT status and is governed by its own community council.