Ingham

A service town for a large sugar growing and processing region, with beef cattle and tropical fruits as secondary industries. Ingham is also the administrative capital of the Hinchinbrook Shire. Ingham's Victoria Mill is reputed to be the largest sugar mill in the Southern Hemisphere.

Location: 111 km north of Townsville; 1482 km from Brisbane; 29 km from the mouth of the Herbert River; 14 m above sea level.

Ingham is situated on Palm Creek, not far from where the creek joins the Herbert River. Set on a coastal plain, Ingham is downstream of the Herbert River Valley and about 25 km from the mouth of the Herbert. The plain is enclosed by steep ranges, through which the Herbert flows. Every decade or so, Ingham suffers major flooding, when the Herbert River peaks at over 12 metres, which it did in 1971, 1986, 1991 and 2009.

The mouth of the Herbert opens on to the Hinchinbrook Channel and, whilst James Cook noted the mountains on Hinchinbrook Island, he missed both the channel and the river mouth. Concealed by a maze of tidal creeks, the river mouth was unidentified by Europeans until George Dalrymple's expedition in 1864.

Ingham's Italian heritage has become a tourist attraction, and the first Australian Italian Festival was held in 1995. It has been estimated that over half of Ingham's population has one or more Italian ancestors for, in addition to the initial influx in the 1890s, migration continued for several decades. The Italian community built its own hospital (1929-45), an exotic design with turrets at either end. (In 1946 Hinchinbrook Shire had 22.7% of Queensland's Italian-born citizens.) Between festivals, the Italian cemetery is listed as a significant point of interest for tourists.

Natural features: Wallaman Falls; Mount Fox (365 metres); Jourama Falls; Paluma Gulbaru National Park (Mt. Spec); Hinchinbrook Island; Pelorus Island; Orpheus Island; Great Palm Island; Halifax Bay; Palm Islands; Upolu Cay Reef; Low Isles; Michaelmas Cay; Cardwell Range; Herbert River Gorge; Insulator Creek Environmental Park; Mount Fox crater, Girringun National Park

Heritage features: Victoria Mill; Macknade Mill (1870s); Lee's Hotel (the hotel was drunk dry by American servicemen celebrating the Coral Sea victory during World War II. This incident was the original inspiration for the famous song 'The Pub with No Beer').

Origin of name: recalls William Bairstow Ingham who, in 1874, established a 700 acre sugar plantation which was known as Ings. The 32 year old was clearly well liked in the community, as the locals successfully petitioned to have the settlement named in his honour when the townsite was surveyed and gazetted in 1875.


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Brief history

The Ingham area was first settled by Henry Stone in 1865, but unlike many other regional settlements, sugar and not cattle was established as the primary produce of the area from the beginning. The Gairloch Sugar Mill was established in 1872. The sugar plantations were worked by Kanakas brought in from the South Pacific Islands. When Australia's immigration policy was changed around the turn of the 20th century, an influx of Italian migrants began and continued until the beginning of World War II. Tobacco growing began in the 1930s. Agriculture diversified, and the Catholic Church established an agriculture college at Abergowrie (the only one in north Queensland) in 1934. Vegetable crops were grown for southern winter markets.

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