Regional Profile

The Cassowary Coast region is situated between the major regional cities of Cairns (approximately one hour north) and Townsville (approximately two hours south).

The Cassowary Coast is named after the distinctive and endangered flightless bird which inhabits the region, and it covers an area of approximately 4,700 square kilometres.

The region is a mix of town, rural and coastal communities boasting beautiful beaches, lush hinterland and scenic mountains. There are over 3,500 businesses operating in the area, with potential for new business growth and development in all of the towns and communities. The most recognisable industries linked to the region are tourism and primary industries. The Cassowary Coast is Australia's premier banana-growing region and a well-known cane-growing region.

The Cassowary Coast boasts the townships of Innisfail in the north and Tully, Mission Beach and Cardwell in the south.  Essential services are readily accessible. The high rainfall and humidity means this is one of the wettest and greenest places in Australia. The estimated resident population is 30,000.

The Cassowary Coast is well connected to other parts of the nation via the Bruce Highway which passes through many of the region's townships. The Palmerston Highway provides connectivity with the Tablelands region and is its major goods transport route. The region can also be accessed by sea through the commercial port at Mourilyan Harbour, by air through one of three aerodromes, and by rail.

Statistical Profile of the Cassowary Coast

For a statistical profile of the region, visit the Queensland Office of Economic and Statistical Research – Queensland Regional Profiles, accessed via the link below:

  • Cardwell and Port Hinchinbrook are the southern gateway to the Cassowary Coast region. They are also the gateway to Hinchinbrook Island, the biggest island national park in Australia and home of the Thorsborne Walking Trail.

    Cardwell is situated 165km north of Townsville. It has a warm tropical climate and is a very popular spot for fishing enthusiasts.

    Cardwell offers a good range of services and shopping facilities. A variety of accommodation is available including caravan parks, hostels, motels and bed & breakfasts. A number of cafes and restaurants offer a range of options to visitors, and menus often include fresh locally-farmed prawns.

    The Cardwell Country Club has a nine-hole golf course and club facilities, where visitors are very welcome.

    Hinchinbrook Island is 5km offshore with 393sqkm of beaches, rainforest and wilderness walks. The Thorsborne Trail, a 32km wilderness trek, is on the eastern side and is recognised as one of the top wilderness walks in the world. Ferry trips to the island are from Cardwell and Lucinda.

    Cardwell is surrounded by natural attractions including national parks, waterfalls and walking trails. The Cardwell Forest Drive is a 26km scenic drive from the town centre, taking in lookouts, freshwater swimming holes and picnic spots.

    There is plenty to do and see in Cardwell. The revamped esplanade has a walkway along the beachfront, picnic spots, children's playgrounds and public artwork. 

    The Cardwell Bush Telegraph Centre is a step back in time, with an insight into North Qld history. There is also the Cardwell Art Gallery and the Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre.

    Photo courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland

  • ImageThe Cassowary Coast region features world-heritage rainforests, secluded beaches, tropical islands, rugged coastal ranges and fertile flood plains.

    The region is equally well known as Australia's banana-growing hub, as an art deco district and as the home of both the endangered southern cassowary and the giant golden gumboot.

    The Cassowary Coast covers 4701 square kilometres from Garradunga in the north to Cardwell in the south and East Palmerston in the west.

    Its major population centres are Innisfail, Tully, Cardwell and Mission Beach.

    The region is home to about 30,000 people and prides itself on its cultural diversity.  At last count, there were 48 languages spoken and 46 different religions practiced.

    There are two seasons on the Cassowary Coast - wet and dry.  The mean daily maximum temperature ranges from 29.6°C (85°F) to 27°C (80°F) while the average daily minimum is between 20.9°C (69°F) and 16.8°C (62°F).

    The mean annual rainfall is 3,134mm (123 inches), almost all of which falls between January and mid-April.

    The township of Tully holds the nation's annual rainfall record with a 7.93m dumping in 1950. There is an 8m golden gumboot monument at the town's entrance.

    Our high rainfall and resulting humidity mean lush tropical forests and many streams.  The area abounds in natural beauty and is home to 2 world heritage areas, the Wet Tropics rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

    The Cassowary Coast's rainforests, tropical beaches and islands and its closeness to the Great Barrier Reef make it a must-see tourist destination.

    The tourism industry is ever-increasing.  Visitors can try adventure sports ranging from white-water rafting and sea-kayaking to skydiving and diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

    They can find their secluded beach, explore some of the rainforest walking and mountain biking trails or relax at resorts.  There are also well-established tourist attractions such as Paronella Park and the Mamu Rainforest Canopy Walkway.

    New opportunities include food trails, indigenous culture tours and art deco tourism.

    The Cassowary Coast boasts rich agricultural land and this has paved the way for a $400 million a year banana industry and a sugar cane industry that has driven growth in the region since the late 1800s.

    Sugar mills operate out of South Johnstone in the north and Tully in the south.

    Cane and bananas are big employers in the Cassowary Coast region, however there is ever-increasing diversity in crops.  Produce includes paw paw, tea, rambutans, pineapples, watermelons, pumpkins, lettuces, lychees, mangosteens and less traditional Cassowary Coast products such as tomatoes, vanilla and cocoa.

    Cattle, timber, aquaculture, fishing and fruit wineries also feature among the agriculture-based industries.  Prawn and reef fishing fleets work out of the region, as do tourist fishing boats.  In addition, there is prawn, barramundi and crocodile farming.

    Queensland's major coastal highway, the Bruce Highway, runs through the region while the Palmerston Highway, the easiest road route to the Tablelands region and the gateway to the Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape York, begins in the Cassowary Coast region.

    There are three aerodromes -  Mundoo Aerodrome outside Innisfail, Tully Airport and Dallachy Aerodrome north of Cardwell.

    Mourilyan Harbour near Innisfail is a high quality natural harbour with timbers cattle and sugar exports.

    The region's closeness to Cairns and Townsville add to its liveability and attraction for investors, retirees, families and tourists, many of whom have been seduced into staying after experiencing the relaxed outdoor lifestyle, the warm climate and spectacular scenery.

    Click here for more information on Mission BeachCardwellTully and Innisfail.

    Photos courtesy of Tourism & Events Queensland & CCRC

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    Innisfail is the Cassowary Coast’s biggest town with a population of approximately 10,000. The township is situated at the junction of the North and South Johnstone Rivers, about 5km from the coast. Innisfail is 90km from Cairns along the Bruce Highway, making it easily accessible by car, bus or train.

    A warm tropical climate and an annual rainfall of around 3500mm ensures the area is always lush and green. Average daytime temperatures in Australia’s winter range from 26 and 30 degrees Celsius (in the dry season from May to October) and in the wet season (November to April) the temperature is around 30 degrees.

    Agriculture is the major economic driver with well-established banana, sugar cane and tropical fruit industries. Nearby Mourilyan Harbour is a major regional port with bulk sugar-loading facilities, and the South Johnstone Sugar Mill is a significant local employer.

    Tourism is a growth industry and Innisfail is a popular destination for backpackers who work in the banana industry.

    The town is a major service hub for the Cassowary Coast region and has a wide range of shops including national retail outlets, along with government services and regional health and educational facilities.

    With access to two World Heritage Areas - the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Wet Tropics rainforests - the town is surrounded by beautiful natural attractions. Etty Bay, Flying Fish Point, Cowley Beach and Kurrimine Beach are a short drive away. Wooroonooran National Park, with the Mamu Canopy Walkway and walking trails through the Misty Mountains, is 27km west of Innisfail. Other attractions include an historic Spanish-style castle and pleasure gardens, a tropical fruit winery and sugar industry museum.

    In town, there are picnic and barbecue spots at Warrina Lakes, along the riverfront and at Anzac Memorial Park.

    Innisfail has one of the best collections of art deco buildings in Australia and visitors can take a self-guided walk around town with the help of a brochure from the Innisfail Visitors Information Centre.

    Photos courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland

    Photos courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland

  • Mission Beach is a tropical holiday destination known for its world-heritage rainforests, idyllic beaches, island getaways and adventure activities.

    Mission Beach, with its resident population of about 4000, is 165km south of Cairns and 235km north of Townsville. Its four villages – Bingil Bay, Mission Beach, Wongaling Beach and South Mission Beach - are linked by 14km of palm-fringed beaches.

    Mission Beach enjoys a warm tropical climate with temperatures up around 26 degrees in the Australian winter (the dry season of May to October) and 30 degrees in the wet season (November to April).

    Mission Beach has a wide range of accommodation from resorts and upmarket holiday homes to motels and bed and breakfasts. The tourist destination caters for family holidays, weekend getaways, backpackers, adventure travellers, birdwatchers, campers and caravanners.

    Mission Beach offers a wide range of activities from Great Barrier Reef trips, fishing and sea kayaking to extreme sports including tandem skydiving and white-water rafting.

    A good range of services and shopping facilities are available including 2 supermarkets, a hardware store, medical centre, pharmacy and library. Cafes and restaurants feature local produce.

    Dunk Island is a 10-minute boat ride from Mission Beach. There are also neighbouring islands.

    Mission Beach is home to the endangered southern cassowary, a large and majestic bird living in the surrounding world heritage rainforest. Walks through the rainforest are another popular pastime for tourists.

    The area produces an amazing array of rare and exotic tropical fruits and these can be sampled during weekly tastings at the Mission Beach Visitor Information Centre.

    Photos courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland

    A Brief History of Mission Beach

    From settlers & the mission to the 1918 cyclone & wartime Dunk Island, A Brief History of Mission Beach will give you an overview...

  • Surrounded by bananas, sugar cane plantations and world-heritage rainforest, Tully is one of greenest and wettest towns in Australia. Tully’s landmarks are scenic Mt Tyson and the Golden Gumboot, a 7.9m tourist attraction celebrating the record-breaking year that 7900mm of rain fell on the town.

    Situated 148km south of Cairns, Tully has a population of about 3000.

    The Tully region is the nation’s banana heartland. Cane is also a major employer and the Tully Sugar Mill is another of the town’s landmarks.

    Established in the 1920s as a sugar town, Tully’s mill now processes about two million tonnes of cane each year. During the crushing season (June to December) there are daily guided tours.

    With its strong agricultural industries, Tully is a popular base for working backpackers with jobs usually available all year round. For the traveller, Tully has a good range of shops, supermarkets, banks, vehicle repairers and medical services.

    Mt Tyson towers 640m over Tully and the climb to the top is rewarded with a magnificent view of the region and its nearby coastline.

    The Tully River is one of the best white-water rafting spots in Australia, with grade 3-4 rapids and stunning views of world heritage-listed rainforest. A sealed road leads to the Tully Gorge National Park, 50km west of Tully.

    About 7km north of the township, Alligators Nest is a popular picnic area with a fresh water swimming hole. The spot was named after a local scout group called ‘The Alligators’ – so no need to be concerned about alligators or crocs!

    Mission Beach and the quiet coastal communities of Tully Heads and Hull Heads are also nearby, and overlook many tropical islands. With boat ramp facilities and a Coastguard base at Tully Heads-Hull Heads, they are popular spots for fishing and boating.

    Photos courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland