- Sugar Industry Museum
- Innisfail’s Art Deco buildings
- Paronella Park
- Beaches, including the delightful Etty Bay
Innisfail is the largest town between Townsville and Cairns in the North Tropical Coast. Innisfail has a large Italian heritage and also has strong Greek, Slavic, Maltese and Chinese influences. To see the town properly and get a sense of it, as a traveller you will need to turn off the Bruce highway and explore the North Eastern parts.
click, drag and zoom within the map
The town is basically (no surprise here) a sugar and banana town that has been settled since the 1870s. After two recent cyclones, Larry, which passed right over the town and Yasi, which passed about 50 km south, the town has pretty much recovered but remains somewhat quiet compared to pre-cyclone times.
There was a great deal of damage caused by Larry and this has resulted in the town getting a make-over which has left it looking very well. Some of the older structures were quite badly damaged but have been tastefully and carefully renovated and brought up to new building code levels of construction.
Innisfail has some excellent examples of Art Deco architecture and is worth a careful exploration for those of you who appreciate that type of architecture.
Innisfail is on the Bruce highway, 75 km south of Cairns. As is often the case with highways passing through towns, the most interesting parts of the town are off the highway.
You get to the town centre by turning off the highway to the east.
Sugar Industry Museum
The sugar museum is at Mourilyan, about 6.5 km South of Innisfail on the Bruce Highway.
You’ll have to pay to get in, with the usual pensioner discount available.
There are a collection of historical artifacts from the early days of cane growing through to a 1980’s mini computer used for process control.
The exhibit is free-form but well-presented, though it is about (2015) to undergo a revamp to improve the presentation. There is a rolling tape of a movie that gives a good overview of the history of cane farming and processing.
Art Deco in Innisfail
Innisfail was pretty much destroyed in 1918 by a category 5 cyclone that left just 12 houses standing. Thirty-seven people died in the town and maybe 40-60 died in surrounding areas.
The populace determined to rebuild the town and many buildings were rebuilt in concrete and brick in the art deco style.
Many of these buildings were damaged in Cyclone Larry in 2006 and have subsequently been restored.
One of the most prominent buildings of this era is the ‘Our Lady of Good Counsel’ catholic church. It was completed in 1928. Fr Clancy, who was the driving force behind the project is buried in front of the shrine to the Lady of Good Counsel in the church. The building is listed in the national heritage register. The building was refurbished after Cyclone Larry.
Visitors will be rewarded by a careful study of the buildings in the town which is claimed to have the highest proportion of art deco buildings in its CBD of any town in Australia.
Paronella Park is a classic ‘folly’ in the tradition of the European wealthy landowners, but with a decided antipodean flair. Created by a Spanish immigrant who made his fortune buying, improving and on-selling cane farms, it was the realisation of his dreams.
Paronella built his castle, tennis courts, bridges, a tunnel, and a hydro electric plant. It opened to the public in 1935.
Unfortunately the occasional fury of the tropical storms in the normally tranquil tropical coast region severely damaged the facility and this coupled with a damaging fire that destroyed much of the castle led to the near demise of the park.
The park was obtained by the current owners who have restored much of the original facility. The rest is steadily being returned to its former glory but this is a slow and painstaking process.
The park has a unique charm and presence and is very popular for celebrations such as weddings which can blossom in its unique atmosphere.
Etty Bay is a special little beach nestled among the hills of the Moresby Range. The beach itself is one of those special tropical beaches with golden sands and tropical vegetation almost down to the sea.
There is a caravan park, camping ground and accommodation available and a cafe that looks ideal for supping cocktails by the beach. Unfortunately prohibitive costs and the potential threat of drunken revelers has extinguished such thoughts. No alcohol allowed. Probably best for the rest of us, I guess.
So you’ll just have sit quietly at the table eating lunch and enjoying a soft drink. I can think of lots of worse things to be doing on a balmy tropical afternoon.
Flying Fish Point
This is beach that exists mainly for holiday/beachside homes. As such, the foreshore has been built-up with some rather large rocks to combat potential cyclone-generated surges and consequent erosion.
This makes it a bit less of a beach but there are plenty spots from where you can enjoy the lovely Coral Sea.