James Watters Left his home in County Tyrone, Ireland when he was a young man.
He tried gold mining in New South Wales before going to Queensland to the gold mines at Gympie and then to the Palmer River in tropical North Queensland near Cooktown. The Palmer River goldfields were one of the most notorious in Australia. It was in an isolated area, cut off from civilisation (Cooktown with a population of 4,000) by flooded rivers in the wet season, and parched in the dry.
After the Watters family left Maytown to live in Cairns, James set himself up in business as a publican, at times with his mother-in-law.
He became known as the ‘beer king’ of Cairns.