Mission Beach 4852

Famous Dunk Island from South Mission Beach

Famous Dunk Island from South Mission Beach

Mission Beach

What is known as Mission Beach is actually four small settlements that are strung along the North tropical coast to the East of Tully.

The southernmost town is South Mission Beach, largely a dormitory and holiday house town for Tully and further afield.

To its north is Wongaling Beach, a slightly less salubrious but very attractive location which lacks hills and their scenery compared with South Mission Beach but has some significant commercial development.

Mission Beach itself is next and this is the main holiday destination for those who are visiting.

Finally the northernmost settlement is Bingil Bay which is home to the more alternative crowd and has a quite rugged hills in a beautiful forested setting.

The coral sea forms the backdrop to these villages and ensures the climate is relatively moderate. The sea brings a string of beautiful, iconic tropical beaches which can be enjoyed by visitors and townspeople alike.

Mission Beach is truly blessed by nature and well worth a stay.

Getting there

Coming from the south, you must turn off the Bruce Highway just North of Tully to get to Mission Beach. From the north, you turn off the highway at El Arish.

These roads are speed restricted as they pass though the forest to protect the local wildlife, which includes the southern cassowary. This bird will often cross the roads and requires care on behalf of drivers.

From Tully

The road from Tully takes you through Merryburn and past Carmoo as it progresses through a varied landscape consisting mainly of National Parks. From Tully, you can stop off at the banana farm just past the Carmoo turnoff and buy bananas direct. If you ask nicely and they’re not too busy, they might show you around.

From El Arish

The road from El Arish is pretty boring at first but soon plunges into the coastal, rainforest covered hills.

It will pay you to take it easy on this road because there are a number of interesting places to visit, including Charley’s chocolate factory which, provided you pre-book, you can tour. At the factory you can see all aspects of the production of chocolate from growing cocoa right through to the finished product.

You have a choice of turning left at the Bingil bay turnoff or continuing on to Mission Beach along a winding road through the Rainforest.

The towns

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Bingil Bay

Bingil Bay is mainly a dormitory town. It’s well worth a drive around to explore but there’s not much to see apart from the Jetty. However, check out the housing at Bingil bay and note its lovely hilly setting.

A great place where you can indulge in some exotic beers (especially German beer) and great meals is the Bingil Bay cafe on the cr. Of Mor-gan-o St, which also boasts a second-hand bookshop, DVD rentals and artwork.

Ocean frontage, Bingil Bay

The shoreline at Bingil Bay is quite rugged and rocky with only a comparitively small stretch of sand along Alexander Dr. and the Esplanade. There are limited camping facilities at the far north end of the Esplanade.

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Jetty, Clump Point

As you travel South past the Bicton Hill turn-in, you’ll find that the coastline is rocky and there are limited opportunities to pull over. However Clump Point Jetty is to the left, with off-street parking. The jetty’s worth a trip out with a rod to see what turns up on the end of your line.

To the left is Clump Point Lookout and the boat ramp. This road also leads to the ‘Eco Village’ which is ‘eco-friendly’ accommodation just on the outskirts of Mission Beach.

Mission Beach

Mission Beach is both physically and metaphorically the centre of these idyllic villages. Traditionally the home of the restaurants, bars, shops and cafes, the town has galleries and craft shops into the bargain.

There are many things to do in Mission Beach, covered fondly by a well-travelled local in her blog post.

In a region steeped in the retail traditions of the past, Mission Beach offers a vibrant late night lifestyle more akin to Cairns than Innisfail. This is especially the case in the holiday season during the dry. There are many restaurants, especially in the area on Porter Promenade between Campbell St. and the Beach and the area is lively and pleasant.

The main street is about 100m parallel to the iconic tropical, palm fringed beach to the east.

Mission Beach, a few hundred metres south of the town

Mission Beach with Dunk Island in the background.

 

Marine Parade is a beautiful little street lined with houses that have maybe the best location in the Far North and provides access to these houses and separates the commercial centre from the beach.

There’s plenty of parking along Porter Street, especially if you don’t mind a short walk away from the busy centre.

Swimming

There is a swimming enclosure on the beach, manned by Lifeguards in the holiday (winter) season. This enclosure keeps out most of the things you don’t want to share the water with but it won’t stop the tiny but extremely nasty irukandji jellyfish which which will float straight through the netting.

If you’re at all concerned about swimming, ask a local but in general the winter months are the best and safest times to go swimming because the cooler water means that the sea life is largely dormant.

Caravan Parks/Camping Grounds and other goodies

As well as some beautifully presented hotel/motels there are places where you can park your van or camp, with full facilities. These are within a few metres of the town centre.

There’s a number of small retail businesses including galleries and craft shops but Mission Beach is mainly the sort of place where you’d find a small bar, make yourself comfortable and settle down for an afternoon or evening chatting to the locals and slowly imbibing in the balmy atmosphere. The great thing about Mision Beach is that you can walk home easily without worrying about getting caught driving under the influence.

We reckon you’ll probably think it’s the closest thing you can get to a Barbados experience in Australia.

Wongaling Beach

A little further down the coast, if you turn left from the Mission Beach – El Arish road into the Tully-mission Beach Road, you’ll head off towards Tully. On the way, you’ll pass a number of turnoffs, the first adjacent to the Giant Cassowary at the bus terminus.

Dunk Island off Wongaling Beach

 

A bit further along, you’ll pass a roundabout with a large supermarket to your left, and a little further again, you’ll pass the state school and another turnoff to the left. These lead to Wongaling Beach, which is the third village we pass on our journey south.

Wongaling is home to a number of restaurant/bars, backpacker accommodation and camping facilities.

The beach is in the middle of a virtually unbroken stretch that runs for almost ten kilometres from Clump Point to South Mission Beach, broken only by the outlets to the numerous streams that drain what is one of the wettest parts of Australia.

South Mission Beach

South Mission Beach is a mainly residential town with another beautiful stretch of beach.

South Mission Beach is accessed from Wongaling Beach either directly from Wongaling along Reid Rd. (travelling south parallel to the beach) then Wheatley Rd. or by heading inland to the Tully Mission Beach Rd. Then turning off to South Mission Beach.

South Mission Beach has been used by the local farming community to escape the oppressive heat around Tully during the wet season. More recently it has been used as a holiday escape by folk from all around the country.

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Tam O’Shanter Point with Hinchinbrook Island off in the distance, Sth Mission Beach in the foreground.

 

The hilly terrain in South Mission Beach gives some spectacular views out to the islands just offshore in the Coral Sea.

Exploring Mission beach

Bicton Hill

Bicton Hill is quite well signposted but like all worthwhile adventures you’ll have to expend a bit of effort to explore it. It is located approximately 2k to the north of Clump Point Jetty.

View to the South from Bicton Hill

View to the South from Bicton Hill

Enormous dragonfly (Giant Petaltail Dragonfly)

Enormous dragonfly (Giant Petaltail Dragonfly)

Bicton Hill is quite rugged but is easily accessible and will reward your efforts by delivering beautiful views of the Coral Sea and offshore islands.

You might be lucky enough see some very unusual plants and animals including various giant insects like the petaltail dragonfly shown at the right which was about 150mm long.

Just go quietly and try not to startle the wildlife. Exercise the usual caution around Cassowarys; don’t feed them and back quietly away until they go about their business.

Like all walks in the tropics, take plenty of water, sunscreen, insect repellent and a decent hat.

Cutten Walk

Just to the South of Bicton Hill, accessible from the Clump Point Jetty turnoff is the start of the Cutten Walk. The walk goes south and finishes at the Tourist Centre.

We strongly suggest that you take the walk from the Tourist Centre as the beginning of the walk at Clump Point is a little difficult to find, though it is marked by a table and bench set just above the high tide mark on the beach.

The walk follows part of the original Aboriginal track around the coast from Bingil Bay to what is now Mission Beach. It is a relatively non-challenging one and a half km stroll through some beautiful and unique remnant tropical coastal rainforest.

The walk offers the visitor an opportunity to experience some of the ancient pathways used by the original inhabitants. The track was later used by the Cutten Family, (the original white Australian settlers in the area) as a transport path for their produce and workers. At present, it offers a tranquil opportunity to walk along the foreshore.

The forest through which the track passes is unique and is the only surviving remnant at sea level of ‘Complex Mesophyll Lowland Vineforest‘ with unique trees and accompanying epiphytes and plants.

Ulysses Link Walk

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Ulysses Link Walking Track at Mission Beach.

The Ulysses Link Walk follows the beach front south from Clump Point to Mission beach. It allows you to stroll along the trees just behind the beach and quietly take in the tranquility of the beach front. You can of course easily access the beach or go back inland toward Porter Promenade.

Kennedy Walking Track

The Kennedy Walking track is not particularly arduous but may need a little planning as part of the walk takes in the beach at Lugger Bay and can be inundated with tidal water.

You can terminate the walk at a number of points, depending on how keen you are. The first natural break is Lovers Beach which has a viewing platform and seating.

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Lovers Beach

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Steps to Lugger Bay. Can be covered at High Tide. Tam O’Shanter Point in the distance.

If you’re not feeling too energetic, this is a great place to repose before you head back. From here though, the walk becomes more rugged as you soon leave the raised walkway and take to a track. Don’t be discouraged though because the steeper parts are stepped and there’s nothing too difficult. There are a number of lookouts on the way to the first natural break at Lugger Bay.

Morgan’s Lookout is on the tip of Tam O’Shanter Point and offers a superb view out to the Coral Sea and offshore islands.

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Mission Arts gallery


The Arts

Mission Beach has a thriving art community.

There are a couple of galleries, a private gallery, (the Helen Wiltshire Gallery) in the Mission Beach town retail area and a public gallery (Mission Arts) in Marcs Park, located at the end of the Tully-Mission Beach road on the east side of the intersection with the El Arish-Mission Beach road.

The Helen Wiltshire Gallery is open 7 days between 10 am and 5 pm.

Mission Arts

The Mission Arts gallery is run by volunteers and is open between 10am to 4pm during the dry season (April to November) and between 10am and 2pm in the wet season (November to April) .

The gallery has a pod dedicated to a shop for locally produced art and craft shop and a gallery that shows art exhibitions.

Craft shop, Mission Arts

Craft shop, Mission Arts

 

Gallery, Mission Arts

Gallery, Mission Arts

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