Innisfail

A prosperous colourful town on the banks of the North and South Johnstone Rivers.

Location: 92 km south of Cairns on the Palmerston and Bruce Highways; 1631 km north of Brisbane

Mount Bartle Frere

Queensland's highest mountain (1,611 metres), Mount Bartle Frere is part of Australia's Great Dividing Range, is 15 km to the north. Climbing the summit of Queensland's highest mountain offers a challenging way to explore part of the World Heritage-listed rainforest of the Bellenden Ker Range.

Bartle Frere trail, in Wooroonooran National Park, can be accessed from the coast at Josephine Falls or from the west via the Atherton Tableland. The trail provides opportunities for fit, experienced and well-prepared bushwalkers to access the rugged wilderness of the Bellenden Ker Range, part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Four camping areas have been established along the trail and bush camping is allowed along any part of the trail.

Paronella Park

Paronella Park is a property built in the 1930s by José Paronella, a Spanish immigrant. Paronella built facilities, including tennis courts and a cinema and a ballroom inspired by Spanish castles, to provide entertainment for the public. In 1933, Paronella installed a hydro-electric plant, the first (privately owned) in Queensland, on the waterfall in the park. Though damaged by fire, cyclones and several floods, it has survived and remains a magical, unforgettable place nestled amongst heritage gardens in lush Australian rainforest.

Australian Sugar Industry Museum

Established in 1977, the museum is located in the sugar village of Mourilyan, just south of Innisfail, and is dedicated to Australia's sugar heritage, from 1823 to the present day. In the Sugarama Gallery attached to the museum a changing exhibition program showcases Queensland's social history and visual arts.

Chinese Temple

The Chinese Temple was known as the Joss House because of the Joss sticks burnt during worship. It is a Universal Temple honouring Buddhism, Taoism and Ancestor worship. It was built 1940 by the shire's Chinese population who were drawn to the agricultural industry and the gold rushes of the region.

Natural features: Ella Bay National Park; Gladys Inlet; Mena Creek Environmental Park; Tully Falls; Clump Point-Kurrimine Parks; Clump Mountain National Park; Maria Creek National Park; Moresby Range National Park


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Brief History

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.' Sugar has been grown here since the 1880s and its contribution to the area is celebrated with an Annual Gala Sugar Festival held every year in August. In 1881 the Colonial Sugar Refining Company entered the Queensland sugar industry, establishing mills at Mackay, the Herbert River and Johnstone River, where it built its Goondi Mill (1885). The Goondi Mill's opening coincided with a fall in sugar prices. Fitzgerald and Co failed, but CSR's financial strength allowed it to survive the downturn.

Innisfail has long been dependent on migrant and indentured labour, from South Sea Islanders (then known as Kanakas) in the late nineteenth century to Italians in the twentieth century. With an economy based primarily on sugar and bananas, it has often suffered massive cyclone damage, especially in 1918 and 2006. It owes its art deco buildings to the rebuilding after the 1918 cyclone.

Origin of Name: in 1879 an Irishman named Thomas Henry Fitzgerald arrived in the area to take up land. Fitzgerald, an astute entrepreneur, gave his property the name Innisfail, the ancient name of Ireland, 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 WA arrived at the Queensland port in 1910 to collect a load of jarrah timber. A public meeting was held and the name of the town was officially changed to 'Innisfail', the name of Fitzgerald's property.

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