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Portland Roads is a small community which may not seem to offer much - a public phone, a taxi to meet aircraft, houses for rent and a water tap for travellers and vessels. There's also the chance to buy fresh seafood from the local mackerel fishermen. However it has been at the crossroads of history and is still a strategic point in the 21st century. For modern Australians, it is one of the few east coast locations where the public can access the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Small boats can be launched here. Prawn trawlers make crew changes here and commercial fishermen anchor at the site to repair vessels with parts freighted via the Iron Range Airport to the south. Captain Cook found it a useful place more than 200 years ago. After repairing the Endeavour at the Endeavour River mouth (modern-day Cooktown), the great explorer sailed east through Cook's Passage and came inside the Great Barrier Reef again through Providential Channel. This channel lies north of Cape Weymouth and north of Bligh's Boat Entrance. Lieutenant William Bligh navigated his longboat from the Bounty through a gap in the outer reef with 18 crewmen to land on Restoration Island at Portland Roads. He had successfully survived a mutiny at Tonga and then a stormy Pacific crossing in May 1789. He named the island, dined on stewed oysters, replenished his water casks and later headed north to the Torres Strait and west to Timor. In 1848 explorer Edmund Kennedy left eight of his weakened expedition here at Camp KLXXX. He pressed on, left others at Shelbourne Bay and continued with sole companion Aboriginal Jacky Jacky. Kennedy was speared to death at Escape River. Jacky Jacky and two of the Weymouth Bay party were the only survivors. Portland Roads became a military strong point during World War II with the construction of Iron Range Air Force base. Naval vessels berthed here and thousands of American troops passed through this port.

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Pormpuraaw Map - Legend
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