Southern Cassowary Coast
A place of wild and spectacular beauty, where the power of nature influences the landscape and its people, the uniqueness of life in the Tropics is evident in this Local Landscape. Landscapes and seascapes of natural beauty, World Heritage forests, rugged mountain ranges, sandy beaches and iconic wildlife abound.
The seaside town of Cardwell, with its main street just metres from Hinchinbrook Channel, enjoys magnificent views across to Hinchinbrook Island. Surrounding Cardwell, mangrove-lined creeks, brimming with aquatic life, flow into the Hinchinbrook Channel, where dugong and sea turtles graze on sea grass.
Cardwell’s iconic jetty and marina provide excellent opportunities for fishing or launching boats to explore the many off-shore islands.
Further from the coast, locals and visitors make use of the cool, freshwater swimming holes in creeks flowing from the surrounding mountains, or explore one of the many wilderness walking trails.
A little further north, Tully is nestled closer to the base of the mountain ranges. The town’s location has provided the perfect storm – quite literally! – for rainfall, with the highest ever recorded downpour for an Australian town falling here. The 7.9m tall Golden Gumboot at the town’s entrance stands as testament to this record-breaking event.
Mt Tyson, towering over Tully, rewards adventurous walkers with magnificent views over the township.
With Tully’s agricultural landscape, surrounded by the natural wonders and beauty of the World Heritage Wet Tropics, it is a popular place with working backpackers. Many experience the awesome adventure of white water rafting down the mighty Tully River, topped off by skydiving over the reef to land on Mission Beach. What a beautiful place to live and grow!
The town of Mission Beach, lying picturesquely on the coast between Tully and Cardwell, offers opportunities for relaxing among the natural splendour.
In the surrounding rainforests, endangered Southern Cassowaries still roam, while White-bellied Sea Eagles soar above the coast. The community is very passionate about their beautiful part of the world and many are very active in their efforts to enhance the local environment.
The quiet fishing retreats of Tully Heads and Hull Heads, with their outlook over the tropical coast and islands, provide a place to relax, unwind and maybe even catch a feed for dinner.
The range of vegetation types in the Local Landscape is astounding, from the iconic Wet Tropics rainforests, to mangrove and coastal communities, and eucalypt and melaleuca grassy woodlands on the lowlands and western ranges.
The diversity of wildlife is equally impressive, with many species found nowhere else on earth. The Mission Beach area is world famous for its populations of Southern Cassowaries, despite the many threats to their survival. The endangered Mahogany Glider, once thought extinct, has an extremely restricted range, mostly confined to the lowland eucalypt woodlands of this Local Landscape.
Tropical Cyclones Larry and Yasi have had devastating impacts on the area’s people, farms, towns and natural landscapes. Many hillsides stood bare after the storms’ battering, with leaves whipped off and trees left broken and battered. Communities were left feeling similarly battered by nature’s force, with extensive structural damage to houses and buildings. Concerted efforts to rebuild are proving successful, although the scars on the landscape and its people will continue to heal.
Communities and Culture
Cardwell is one of the oldest towns in the far north. Early settlers of the area initially described the area as “a wild desolate and remote spot.” Their vision was that it would become “a flourishing seaport, within easy communication of the marts of the world …. filled with churches, public buildings and the warehouses of commerce, the black hulls of a merchant fleet in the harbour … Australia will hold nothing more beautiful than the city of Cardwell and its port.”
The agricultural potential of Tully and its surrounds was recognised early on, and this area quickly grew, particularly with people emigrating from southern and eastern Europe. It is the second largest sugarcane producting district in the region, but also grows its fair share of bananas. Top this off with large areas of beef production and Tully is one of the more diverse agricultural landscapes in the region.
The living culture of the area’s Traditional Owners stretches back thousands of years. The Wet Tropics region is home to a rich, vibrant and enduring Indigenous Rainforest cultural heritage, comprising 20 Traditional Owner clan groupings with over 80 culture and country legal entities.
Click on the Local Cultural Connections link for more information on the Traditional Owner groups and history for this Local Landscape.