Sugar Cane Country – The road north from Townsville to Cairns!

This part of the North Queensland is dominated by sugar cane fields. The soil is rich and dark and the sugar cane often grows higher than 2m. This fertile soil also grows mango trees and bananas. The mango trees in the plantations are pruned to keep them short and more manageable for picking. Colourful plastic bags cover the developing combs of bananas to protect them from pests and improve the yield. There are cane train tracks to carry the cane to the sugar mills.

Sugar Cane Fields – the height of the plants are greater than 2m.
Lucinda Jetty – 5.6km long and has a conveyor to transport raw sugar into sugar export ships. This jetty is so long, they had to account for the curvature of the earth when their built it!
Watch out for the cows on the road and beside the road on the way to Wallaman Falls!

Wallaman falls, about 50 minutes inland from the town of Ingham is really spectacular. Potentially, it was particularly stunning and swollen when we were there as there were a few days of rain prior. The water falls a great distance of 268m making it the highest, permanent, single drop waterfall in Australia. The power of the waterfall creates huge plumes of spray. There is a hike from the lookout at the top to the bottom of the falls. It’s not the easiest hike but worth the effort to feel the power of the falling water at the bottom lookout and the spray of it on your face.

Wallaman Falls from the top lookout. Look at the spray generated from the power of the falling water!

Driving north from Ingham to Cardwell, you will pass the Hinchinbrook Lookout. This stunning lookout must have cost the local government a fortune to build as it consists of a highway offramp and a vehicle bridge that goes over the major Bruce Highway. Throughout our journeys, we have been astounded at the quality therefore cost of public infrastructure in Australia. Is this the best way to spend money? Could the same outcome be achieved with less money and the remaining money used for something else or left in the taxpayer’s pocket? The view from the lookout is pretty spectacular.

Hinchinbrook Lookout

We overnighted in Cardwell. One of Cardwell’s claim to fame is it’s resident, massive crocodile named Bismarck. In Australia, crocodiles are a protected species (as are all native animals), so ‘taking care of it’ would be a crime. However, it’s common practice in the Northern Territory where a crocodile has encroached into populated areas, to ‘re-locate’ it to a remote stretch of river. The interesting thing then is what happens to the re-located croc? Since saltwater crocodiles are intensely territorial, the new kid on the block is likely to be on another croc’s turf and a a fight to the death then ensues. Nevertheless, despite being a waterfront-centric, tourist town, locals do not want this big crocodile relocated. The lady at the tourist centre said that “The Bismarck” loves publicity and would wave at you if it could! Google Cardwell croc to get some videos of what this croc has been up to! It seems to be a matter of time before an ignorant tourist gets chomped and then the local authorities will be forced to decide that something needs to be done!

On the way north from Cardwell is a cool and refreshing (and safe) swimming hole called Alligator’s Nest. It is a really great place to stop for a picnic and a swim. Just look out for the Bullrout fish (like a stonefish) which has dangerous spines that will get you if you step on one. Of course these fish are cunningly camouflaged in the river sand, so maybe “watch out” is the wrong thing to do, since you won’t spot one until it’s too late. Just another way that Australia’s natural wonders get their own back from time to time.

Alligator’s Nest Swimming Hole
Alligator’s Nest Swimming Hole
Alligator’s Nest Swimming Hole – Inland of Mission Beach

The lady at the tourist information centre at Cardwell was delightfully biased towards Cardwell. She told us that the (famous) Mission Beach was “boring”. We got to Mission Beach and was pleasantly greeted by a stunning, broad, world class, white sand beaches fringed by coconut trees. Idyllic! The main street has a very touristy feel.

Coconut Trees Fringing Mission Beach – Too bad the day was overcast or this would have been the classic island paradise shot!

Just inland of Mission Beach is Djiru National Park. The Licuala Rainforest Circuit is worth finding for the beautiful Fan Palm Rainforest Walk. These massive palm leaves are really beautiful.

Rare fan palm rainforests – Licuala Rainforest Circuit, Djiru National Park
Fan Palm – Licuala Rainforest Circuit – The diversity of evolution is amazing!
Fan Palm Rainforest – Licuala Rainforest Circuit

About 20 minutes south of Innisfail, Paronella Park is touted as the Number 1 tourist attraction in Queensland. That’s a big call! Together with the $50 per adult entry fee, my expectations were extremely high! It’s pretty enough as the photos attest but you can actually access the highlight of the park for free. The Mena Creek Falls can accessed for free from the suspension bridge just down the street from the park entrance. From the bridge, you can see some of the old castle structures. It could be then suggested that perhaps it isn’t worth paying the $50 steep entry fee. The real star of Paronella Park was the 1m long eel which hangs around a fast flowing creek hoping the tourists will feed it!

Note: If you have the Entertainment discount, there is a 2 for 1 discount at Paronella Park.

Kooky planter at Paronella Park
Paronella Park – unfortunately, the concrete used by Jose Paronella to build these castles contained too much mica so all the concrete work suffers from concrete cancer and is decaying in an accelerated fashion. Current owners of Paronella Park are conducting reinforcement and refurbishment work to save it.
Kauri Pines at Paronella Park – These magnificent trees grow straight, tall and the wood is naturally water resistant and therefore perfect for boats and jetties. As a result these were heavily logged in the past and pines of this size are rare. These ones in Paronella Park are protected.
Bamboo Grove, Paronella Park
Paronella Park
Paronella Park
Grand Staircase at Paronella Park – Note the Mena Creek Falls to the left of the photo. The story goes that this staircase was the first thing built and used to carry building materials from the top to the bottom for the building of structures at the lower level. The story seems dubious as this staircase is far too decorative with it’s ornate balustrading and incorporated planter boxes as well as suspiciously narrow to be the work accessway!
Paronella Park – gravity fed fountains
Paronella Park
Paronella Park (Mena Creek Falls) at night during the evening tour. You can access the suspension bridge over the waterfall for free from outside park.
Mena Creek Falls from Paronella Park . Note how the high water level goes beyond the concrete railing!
The view from Coquette Point, Innisfail

This is a beautiful part of the world, especially in July when the temperature is perfect and a welcome escape from the Australian winter down south. The ground is fertile and the landscape is lush and green.

Love to hear what you think! Thanks!!