Daintree Shire (1879-1919) began as an area of over 15,000 sq miles, occupying the coast and hinterland around Cooktown. Cooktown was a separate municipal borough which had been proclaimed three years before.
Daintree was at first a local government division, changing to a shire in 1902. It was named after Richard Daintree, geologist, who prospected the Etheridge goldfields in the late 1860s. He was geologist in charge of the northern division of Queensland. Daintree died in 1878, the year before Daintree division was proclaimed.
The division's southern and western neighours were the Cairns and Hann divisions, the latter centred on the Palmer River goldfield. The most important road in the Daintree division was the track from Cooktown to the Palmer River diggings. Daintree division's population seldom exceeded half the population living in Cooktown, making it a sparsely settled hinterland until a traveller reached Palmer River. A railway from Cooktown to Laura, halfway to Palmer River, was built in two stages in 1885 and 1888.
In 1919 Daintree Shire, Hann Shire and the Town of Cooktown were amalgamated to form Cook Shire. Daintree division/shire's census populations were:
Palmer River, Cook Shire, Dry Tropics, Wet Tropics and Cooktown entries