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The Cassowary Coast : Babinda to Cardwell

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The Cassowary Coast covers the coastal area along the Bruce Highway from Babinda to Cardwell.  This region is the wettest part of Australia, with the annual rainfall record reaching 7.9m in 1950.  Because of this high rainfall, the area is lush and green with world heritage rainforest, and has gorgeous beaches, creeks and rivers, waterfalls and swimming holes.


The main industry of the region is agriculture, which is evident with all the sugar cane crops along the roadside.  Believe it or not, there’s actually a Cassowary Coast Sugar Diabetic Support Group! Occasionally you’ll see a banana or tropical fruit plantation as well, but sugarcane dominates the region, and because the Great Barrier Reef is right off the coast, tourism is another economic contributor.


Apart from sugar cane, another thing that you will see A LOT is cassowaries… on signs.  Southern cassowaries are large flightless birds that are not only elusive but also threatened with extinction due to road kills, dog attacks and habitat destruction.  Please be careful while driving through this area, or any area where cassowary signs are located, and if you are lucky enough to see one foraging for food in the undergrowth, observe it quietly and don’t approach or feed it. For more information on the cassowary, click here…


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When we left Cairns, Babinda was out first stop.  As we drove through to get to the Boulders, we noticed a Golden Gumboot in the post office window.  The town had won the gumboot for receiving the highest rainfall in the region.


We’d spent all morning packing and it was beautifully refreshing to cool off in the clear waters.  The Boulders is popular with the locals and it’s easy to spend the day there.  The reserve has a large grassy picnic area with BBQs, a playground and toilets.


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Another gorgeous swimming hole not far from Babinda is Josephine Falls, with waterfalls and rock slides into clear pools.


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The art deco capital of Queensland, Innisfail was a small town full of surprises.  Previously called Geraldton, it was renamed in 1910 to avoid confusion with the town in Western Australia.  Innisfail is a romantic nickname for Ireland.


In 1918, a cyclone blew through the town and destroyed almost every building.  The buildings erected to rebuild Innisfail are what put the place on the map.  Many of the buildings stand in a variety of shapes, designs and colours – it was really interesting and almost a step back in time.



Paronella Park and Ma:mu Tropical Skywalk


Paronella Park was a major highlight for us and we can certainly see why it’s Queensland’s #1 attraction.  Check our article about it here…  Ma:mu Tropical Skywalk is Paronella Park’s sister attraction and is another brilliant way to see the rainforest and learn more about the region.


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Etty Bay

We were given a tip to visit Etty Bay if we wanted to see cassowaries, as they usually frequent the beach and are used to people so they don’t scurry away before you can take a photo.  While we didn’t get to see a cassowary, we did enjoy the beach and wandered around the rockpools.


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That night, we stopped at a rest area just north of El Arish.  It was a good little spot with clean toilets and picnic benches.


Mission Beach

We cruised through Mission Beach in the early hours of the morning.  This little beach town caters for holiday makers, as most of the shops along the main road are restaurants, cafes and accommodation.  After a quick stroll along Hervey Perry Jetty, we made our way to Wongaling Beach to check out the Big Cassowary…


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This small agricultural town has one major claim to fame – the Big Golden Gumboot.  Standing 7.9m tall with a green tree frog hanging on the side, the Big Golden Gumboot celebrates the record-breaking amount of rainfall the town received in 1950.  There’s a spiral staircase inside and the view from the top includes the town and the sugar mill.


Tully is extremely proud to hold the record for the wettest town and annually holds the Golden Gumboot Festival – however, over the last 40 years Babinda has actually been wetter, which is why they hold the Golden Gumboot trophy in their post office window.


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The final town along the Cassowary Coast, Cardwell is a seaside town of around 1200 people and a Big Crab.  It’s a nice place to stop and stretch your legs with a stroll along Victoria Street.


About 7km south of Cardwell is Five Mile Swimming Hole, a wonderful place to refresh yourself with a quick dip.


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Cassowary Coast

Big Things : The Big Gumboot, Tully QLD

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The Big Gumboot (officially called the Golden Gumboot) is located in Tully, about 50km south of Innisfail.


The story behind the Big Gumboot involves a long standing battle between Tully and Babinda to the north, for the title of ‘wettest town in Australia’.  Since 1970, the town that received the most rainfall that year would receive a rubber golden gumboot.  Tully currently holds the record for the highest annual rainfall in an Australian town, which was 7.9 metres of rain in 1950.  However, in recent years, Babinda has been receiving more rain.


On a rainy day in May 2003, Tully unveiled the Golden Gumboot, which stands 7.9 metres high to represent the record amount of rainfall for Tully.  It was constructed in Millaa Millaa by sculpture Brian Newell, and is made of bronzed fibreglass.  There’s a spiral staircase inside that leads visitors up to a viewing platform at the top and there is also a mechanical rain gauge that runs from the heel up the calf of the boot.  The white-lipped green tree frog climbing up the gumboot was carved by Roger Chandler.  Altogether, the Big Gumboot cost about $90,000 to make and transport, with $3000 coming from the Bata Shoe Company for the branding of the boot.


Due to their higher annual rainfall and general annoyance, Babinda residents threatened to build a big umbrella to one-up the folks in Tully.  Unfortunately, they never got around to it – probably because it was raining.