Gordonvale

A charming sugar milling town which lays claim to the rather dubious privilege of being the place where the dreaded cane toad was introduced to Australia. In June 1935, 102 cane toads were released near Gordonvale in the misguided belief that they would wipe out pests which were damaging the local sugar cane crops.

Location: 24 km south of Cairns.

Places of interest: Walsh's Pyramid Hill (volcanic core); Orchid Valley; Frankland Group National Park; Behana Gorge; Edward River Crocodile Park; localities of Fishery Falls, Deeral.

'The Mulgrave Rambler' was a tourist train that operated from the Mulgrave Mill museum and visitor's centre along cane tramway routes. Unfortunately the Mulgrave Rambler was discontinued in 1996. No. 4 Nelson is normally stored in a shed within the Mulgrave Mill yard.

Frankland Islands National Park covers five islands, all popular for their relatively untouched rainforest, mangroves and surrounding reefs. A colony of spectacled flying-foxes roosts on Russell Island, while manta rays and sea turtles have been spotted in nearby waters. Travellers can go out with a tour operator and enjoy a guided nature trail on Normanby Island, or comb the shores at low tide to see intriguing ocean treasures washed up by the sea. Snorkel or dive and enjoy the underwater wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.

Origin of name: the town was originally called Nelson but it was later changed to Gordonvale to honour a local pioneer, John Gordon.


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Brief history

Sugar cane processing started with the Pyramid Mill (1882) on the Mulgrave River, about 6 km upstream from Gordonvale. At Edmonton, the Melbourne biscuit maker, Thomas Swallow, started the Hambledon mill in 1882. The Mulgrave Central mill (1896) at Gordonvale and the Babinda mill (1915) were the other two which survived. Initially, railway construction in the shire was not of great benefit. The first line was directed at inland mining centres around the Atherton Tableland. In 1897 the Cairns divisional board financed a line to Gordonvale's central mill, and by 1910 extended the line in stages to Babinda. The line was incorporated into the North Coast line in 1912.

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