Just 20 minutes inland from Airlie Beach, Proserpine is an historic town which owes its livelihood to sugar cane. It is a typical Queensland sugar town, characterised by dozens of small railway tracks all leading towards the sugar crushing mills. The eerie glow of cane fires can still be seen at night from late June onwards, a spectacular sight to catch on camera. Though close to the coast, Proserpine has missed out on tourist activity, however it is the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands for visitors arriving by road, train or air.
Location: 20 km from the town of Whitsunday; 8 km from the mouth of Repulse Bay; 1099 km north of Brisbane; 12 m above sea-level.
The main street's well preserved 'art deco' shop architecture is a reminder of how life used to be. Old-fashioned courtesies thrive in Proserpine, particularly at the local shops and country-style hotels which serve hearty-sized meals and cold Queensland beer. Make sure you venture off the main street in Proserpine to find some hidden gems of stores located in the alleyways around the main street, including Colour Me Crazy, a boutique gift store which needs to be experienced to be believed!
Places of interest: Cedar Creek Falls; Billabong Sanctuary (250 km north); Conway Range; Mount Dryander; Cape Conway; Cape Gloucester; Mount Lucas Environmental Park; St Paul's Anglican Church; sugar mill; Peter Faust Dam; Proserpine Historical Museum
The Proserpine Show is held at the Proserpine Showground around 24 25 June. It is a typical show with carnival rides, sideshow alley and fireworks. The Harvest Festival is generally held in October, around the 20th of the month, as a celebration of the end of sugar crushing at the mill. It includes carnival rides at Les Stagg Oval and a parade with floats through the Main Street. The Proserpine Rotary Christmas Fair is an annual event held on 16 December. Main Street is closed off and stall holders take the place of cars. Most shops open or stay open until late and take advantage of the increased business by offering discounts, special deals.
Proserpine is located on the North Coast line and has services between Brisbane and Cairns provided by the Spirit of Queensland which depart from Proserpine Station located in Hinschen Street almost at the geographical centre of the town. It has restroom facilities, covered waiting areas, arrival and departure announcements and coaches that provide connections to surrounding areas meet every arriving train.
Proserpine Airport has flights to Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne as of December 2015. The airport opened in 1951 and the first flight landed at it on 3 November the same year. Access to the airport is via the Bruce Highway and Sir Reginald Ansett Drive by either private vehicle, or by bus.
There are Whitsunday Transit bus services to and from Airlie Beach and a connection service to Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast Airport. The main bus stations are located in Mill Street (in front of Mill Street Park) and Blair Street (outside of the BP Service station). Taxi services operate 24/7 in the town and a taxi rank is located outside the courthouse.
The Whitsunday Islands are the most well known and well visited island group in Australia. They have become the epitome of the perfect tropical island holiday destination and are synonymous with the image of paradise. As one of the country's major tourist attractions and holiday destinations, these islands and the neighbouring coast are considered a very special part of Australia. Located just north of the Tropic of Capricorn, the Whitsundays are right in the heart of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. The main islands lay directly between the Queensland Coast and The Great Barrier Reef to the east. Follow the link below for activities and tours in the Whitsunday Islands.
A peaceful coastal park overlooking the Whitsunday Passage, protecting rainforest-clad mountains, forested hills and deep valleys. The park offers superb views over the islands from Mount Rooper lookout or the ridge above secluded Coral Beach. Conway National Park's size and undeveloped nature makes it a very significant wilderness area. The park extends north along the coastline to the tip of Cape Conway, 30 km south of Shute Harbour and includes the rainforest-clad Conway Peninsula. It protects the largest area of lowland tropical rainforest in Queensland outside Tropical North Queensland. Hoop pines grow on coastal ridges and in damp gullies, emerging above the rainforest canopy. Rugged, steep, rocky cliffs provide a spectacular 35 km-long backdrop to the Whitsunday Passage and islands.
In 1770, Lieut. James Cook passed by the Whitsunday Islands and named Repulse Bay. The area was first settled by Europeans in 1861 and agricultural activity began immediately. The Proserpine sugar mill was opened in 1897 and is now recognised as one of the most modern sugar mills in the world. Dittmer is the location of the largest gold find in the Whitsundays; it is 20 kilometres (12 mi) to the SW of Proserpine. The Dittmer Gold Mine has been closed since the 1960s, small scale mining still occurs in the vicinity.
Origin of name: Explorer George Dalrymple, who passed through the area in 1859 on his way north, named the whole area Proserpina, the Roman name for the Greek goddess of fertility, Persephone. It was his way of declaring the richness and fertility of the area which he was eager to develop.