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November 8, 2019 - Innisfail art deco history draws fans from afar

The Cassowary Coast region could be set for a tourism boost from renewed interest in its historic buildings, according to visiting heritage experts.

“Cultural tourism” was a growing market niche – with many curious visitors attracted to an area not only for its natural beauty but also for its buildings too, said Chairwoman of the Queensland Heritage Council, Debbie Best.

Members of the heritage body visited Innisfail last week (31/10) to meet with the Cassowary Coast Regional Council and to inspect heritage-listed buildings.

Ms Best said that the region’s art deco architecture was potentially a big drawcard to visitors who sought out distinctive and irreplaceable landscapes and experiences.

“Innisfail’s many art deco-styled buildings date back to the glamourous and distinctive architectural style of the 1920s and 30s,” Ms Best said.

“Many people are waking up to the fact that old character—filled buildings from distinctive eras can’t be replaced, but they can be protected for future generations. Innisfail and the surrounding areas have so much worth looking after.”

Ms Best said that cultural tourism grew from a combination of local people being proud of what was in their community, and visitors and tourists coming to see it.

The Mayor of the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, Mr John Kremastos, said that the region had so much heritage architecture because of a huge cyclone in 1918 which flattened many of the previous buildings.

The townspeople decided to come back bigger and stronger, and art deco was a huge style influence around the world at the time, so it became a popular presence in Innisfail as well.

“The art deco style was often more expensive and extravagant to build, and was reflective of a booming economy in the area at the time,” Mayor John Kremastos said.

“It produced distinctive buildings with strong visual styling, and we’re very fortunate that residents back in the day embraced the art deco style the way they did. It’s another part of what makes the Cassowary Coast region so special to come and visit."