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Suburb Profiles

Mission Beach Queensland!

Today, what were once separate villages have now grown such that they are almost considered one town, Mission Beach. The villages are, from south to north, South Mission Beach, Wongaling Beach, Mission Beach and Bingil Bay. Development has also begun at Brooks Beach and Garners Beach to the north.

Mission Beach is now a thriving tourist town that has been able to maintain its small town feel. One reason for this is that the town is spread out along a thin strip of land between the ocean and the hills and farmland behind. This has spread out a large tourism market, and the village doesn't feel as busy as one may expect.

The beach is flanked by green mountains rising just a short distance inland, and provides views out to the Family Islands. Close to shore at Mission Beach lies a shallow reef which runs from the mouth of Porter's Creek at the south end of North Mission Beach almost to Clump Point, the rocky point at the north end of Mission Beach. During very low tides portions of this reef are exposed.

Surrounded by World Heritage rainforest on one side and the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef on the other, Mission Beach is home to many wildlife species, most notable is the cassowary. This large flightless bird can be found in the rainforest surrounding the area but is facing extinction due to land clearing, traffic and predators such as wild dogs and feral pigs.

Mission Beach is also the mainland gateway to Dunk Island, with water taxis and ferries shuttling guests and day-trippers out to the island and its resort.

Paronella Park Mena Creek


An unforgettable historic tour – Paronella Park is impossible to describe; guests arrive not knowing what to expect and depart...

Mena Creek National Parks, Gardens, Mission Beach & Innisfail, Tropical North Queensland, Queensland

Dunk Island National Park off the Mission Beach coast

Dunk Island National Park

A scenic, densely forested island – Dunk Island (Family Islands) National Park is a scenic, densely forested and hilly continental...

off the Mission Beach coast National Parks, Gardens, Mission Beach & Innisfail, Tropical North Queensland, Queensland

Josephine Falls south west of Miriwinni

Josephine Falls

One of the states most scenic parks – Large tropical rainforest park containing Queensland’s highest peak, Mt Bartle Frere. Tropical...

south west of Miriwinni National Parks, Gardens, Mission Beach & Innisfail, Tropical North Queensland, Queensland





Mission Beach

Innisfail in the Johnstone Shire (population 20,000, town of 10,000) is positioned in the heart of the Cassowary Coast and Innisfail's town centre is situated at the junction of the North and South Johnstone Rivers, approximately 5 km from the coast. It is located near large tracts of old-growth tropical rainforest surrounded by vast areas of extensive farmlands. Queensland's highest mountain, Mount Bartle Frere; part of Australia's Great Dividing Range, is 15 kilometres (9 mi) to the north.

Innisfail (including Nerada)
Attractive and substantial town servicing the surrounding agricultural region.
Located 1631 km north of Brisbane and 83 km south of Cairns, Innisfail is one of the few substantial towns in north Queensland to remain relatively untouched by the tourist boom which has swept the whole area in recent times. Located at the junction of the North and South Johnstone Rivers, the town has an easy charm about it.

The Johnstone Rivers were first sighted by Sub-inspector Robert Johnstone who came upon the current site of the town and wrote: 'a most glorious view appeared - a noble reach of fresh water, studded with blacks with their canoes and catamarans, others on the sandy beaches; deep blue fresh water expanding to an imposing breadth.' On Johnstone's recommendation an expedition led by George Dalrymple set off in September 1873 to thoroughly explore the coastline. About 4 miles upstream one of Dalrymple's men, P. N. Nind, made a camp and on the basis of this Innisfail was originally known as Nind's Camp.

In 1879 an enterprising Irishman named Thomas Henry Fitzgerald arrived in the area to take up land. At the edge of the river near the 'Pioneers of the Sugar Industry' statue is a cairn commemorating the landing of Fitzgerald and his party.

Fitzgerald, an astute entrepreneur, called his property the romantic name for Ireland - Innisfail - however it was not to become the name of the town until much later. In 1882 the Surveyor-General named it Geraldton in honour of Fitzgerald.

The town's name was changed after a Russian ship bound for Geraldton in Western Australia arrived at the port to collect a load of jarrah wood. A public meeting was held in 1910 and the name of the town was officially changed to 'Innisfail' the name of Fitzgerald's property. The name was appropriate as the Irish have played a significant part in the history of the town as the huge and gracious Roman Catholic church on the top of the hill attests. In fact one of the town's earliest major landholders was James Quinn, the Bishop of Queensland, who used to the names of twelve nuns to buy up large tracts of land in the area.

Innisfail is basically a sugar town and its economy is largely dependent on the sugar plantations which surround the town, the bulk sugar loading facilities at Mourilyan and the numerous mills in the area.

Things to see:   [Top of page]

Shire Hall
While the town lacks 'attractions' which would draw tourists to it, it does have some delightful walks beside the river and its streetscapes are genuinely interesting.

By far the most interesting building in the town is the Shire Hall which stands like a beacon towering above all the other buildings in the town.

It was built between 1933 and 1938 after the previous three Shire Halls had been burnt down - the first in 1891, the second in 1913 and the third in 1932. Financed in part by the shire's commitment to provide relief employment during the depression it was built of reinforced cement to withstand the cyclones which sometimes hit the town. Today it is still a remarkable building. The hall upstairs, which was state of the art when it was built, is a massive place still used for civic occasions. It has huge roll-a-doors on the windows so that on hot nights the hall can be opened to catch the slightest breeze. By any measure it is one of the strongest civic statements in Australia. It cost the council £54,725 to construct - at a time when they couldn't afford such a large outlay.

Chinese Temple
In sharp contrast the Chinese Temple in Ernest Street is another dimension of the town's history. This small red building with its incense and brassware is a reminder that the goldfields of North Queensland attracted considerable numbers of Chinese and that after the goldrushes they dispersed south settling in towns like Innisfail.

Pioneers Monument
At the bottom of the town's main street is the Pioneers Monument a rather handsome statue made out of Carrara marble depicting a cane cutter with his knife at the ready. Donated to the town by members of the local Italian community it is a reminder that another group to have left their mark on north Queensland are the Italians who arrived in the 1880s to become cane cutters.

Nerada Tea Gardens & Tourist Centre
28 km west of Innisfail is the Nerada Tea Gardens & Tourist Centre. Here, nestled into the foothills below Mount Bartle Frere (Queenland's highest mountain) are 250 hectares of tea plantation. Started in 1959 Nerada prides itself in being the only commercially productive tea plantation in Australia. The plantation is open from 9.00 to 4.30 each day and visitors are shown the processes from withering to crushing, oxidising, drying, sorting and packing.

Innisfail has a long association with tea production. It is believed that the first tea planted in Australia was planted at nearby Bingil Bay in 1884.


The Golden Hole on the Russell RiverSugar cane & banana farming.Etty Bay

Between the hustle and bustle of Cairns and Townsville in North Queensland lies the Cassowary Coast! From Babinda in the north to Cardwell in the south taking in Miriwinni, Innisfail, Mena Creek, Kurrimine Beach, Mission Beach and Tully.

Bordered by the Great Barrier Reef and the World Heritage Wet Tropics Rainforest the natural beauty encompasses offshore islands, golden sandy beaches, cool mountain streams, waterfalls and mangrove everglades. The fauna is wide and varied with crocodiles, cassowaries, butterflies, birdlife and all the tropical fish species.

Industries include sugar cane, bananas, fishing, aquaculture, tropical fruit agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. The history and culture of the region date back to the first discoverers.

The Cassowary Coast is named after the beautiful Cassowary, a large flightless bird that inhabits the region. If you are lucky, you may see one of them, so keep your eyes open as they are an impressive sight. But be careful driving through this area, since road deaths are the biggest problem faced by the endangered Cassowary.

Most of the towns in the area were built around the pioneering sugar industry, but over the last century they have developed very different charasteristics. While Innisfail's European architecture is still a reflection of the pioneers who called that town home, Babinda supports a very successful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander craft and tourism co-operative. Gordonvale still has a Queensland-style town square, Tully is very well known for being a wonderful spot for white water rafting and kayaking, and Mission Beach is a paradise for holiday makers looking for solitude.

This stretch of coastline alone has more than 25 tropical islands off its shore, most of them inhabited. More than 12 mainland National Parks lie in the area, and it is the closest mainland access in Queensland to the outer Barrier Reef. The natural attractions are easily accessible - just off the highway are places such as the Babinda Boulders, Josephine Falls, Mount Bartle Frere, Mount Bellender Ker, the Palmerston National Park, the Mulgrave Valley, the Tully River and Cardwell's Forest Drive. But the 'jewel' of the Cassowary Coast is Mission Beach, a little hideaway off the main road and enveloped in tropical rainforest.

Just offshore from Mission Beach are some of the world's most magnificent islands, many of which are declared national parks. These islands are a beautiful spot to spend some time - whether it is only a few hours or a few days - and the best way to get to the Great Barrier Reef.

There are numerous resorts and accommodation houses available to suit every budget and occasion, including luxury beachfront apartments, villa's resorts, motels, hostels, caravan parks and camping sites, cabins, bed and breakfasts and farmstays. All accommodation facilities have been built to take advantage of the magnificent ocean views, golden beaches and tropical gardens.


Cassowary Coast
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