Exploring the Wet Tropics: 6 unexpected things to do in Innisfail
Look beyond the sugarcane fields and you’ll find a tropical town that is bustling with adventure, arts, great food and the friendliest locals going.
Intrigued? You know it; here are 6 of the best things to do in Innisfail.
1. Explore an Ancient Spanish castle in the rainforest
Venture 20-minutes south of Innisfail to Mena Creek Falls to take in the utterly breathtaking beauty of Paronella Park.
Built by Jose Paronella—a Spanish immigrant from Catalonia—in 1929, he turned the 13 acres of untouched scrub along Mena Creek into a spectacular Spanish palace and tropical gardens for himself and his wife. Almost 100-years later, the incredible structure still stands, seamlessly blending in with the lush rainforest it inhabits.
The property boasts over 7,000 plants and towering trees and is fully powered by its (recently upgraded) hydro electric system, making it an eco-certified structure in the heart of the rainforest—a vision realised for its creator. Pack a picnic and find the perfect spot next to one of the property’s picturesque ponds and stop off for a Devonshire Tea at the café before you leave.
Paronella Park has some impressive ticketing options to tour the grounds—day or night—for the whole family. Find out which one’s for you, here.
2. Hit The History Scene
One of the best things to do in Innisfail, in any city, is to learn a little about its heritage. And, trust us, this tropical town just outside of Cairns has plenty.
Adopted in 1918 after a cyclone levelled much of the town’s original structures, Innisfail’s now-famous ‘cyclone-proof’ architecture popped up everywhere, taking on the popular Art Deco style of the era. Now, Innisfail boasts the highest concentration of art deco facades in any Australian city.
Walk along the town’s colourful streets before ducking into Johnstone Shire Hall for their free tour of this jaw-dropping building. Make sure to spend some time at the Innisfail Museum, where its walls contain incredible artefacts of the region’s history. Learn about Innisfail’s early Chinese pioneers and the region’s rich indigenous heritage, as well as wartime in northern QLD.
History buffs, this will keep you (very) busy.
3. Soak up sun, sand and sea views at Etty Bay
Easily one of the best things to do in Innisfail is to spend the day at the beach. Nestled amongst dense rainforest—and just 15-minutes from the city—is Etty Bay; a pristine stretch of golden sand known as one of Tropical North Queensland’s most scenic beaches.
Not only is this one of those truly stunning spots in northern Queensland where rainforest meets the ocean, it’s where you can share the sand with Australia’s largest flightless bird, the Southern Cassowary. (Cassowaries are generally unphased by visitors but can be dangerous if approached, so keep your distance folks).
If you love the great outdoors, turn a day trip into an overnighter and stay at Etty Bay Caravan Park. You can choose from beachfront campsites or cabins sheltered amongst the foliage.
4. Spot crocs as you cruise the river
Learn the history of Innisfail’s ancient rainforest and unique river species. Get up close and personal with some of Australia’s infamous animals as you spot the local crocodiles sunning themselves on the sandbanks.
Educational, and a fantastic way to explore the surrounding region, the two-hour cruise is available from 8:30am to 5:30pm seven days a week ($40pp).
5. Walk among the Canopy Of Ancient Rainforest
Seeking exhilarating things to do in Innisfail? Take to the skies and explore the Wet Tropics by foot. Just 30-minutes from town, follow the Palmerston Highway to Mamu Tropical Skywalk; an elevated walkway meandering above the lush rainforest canopy in Wooroonooran National Park, homeland of the Mamu Aboriginal people.
With uninterrupted views over dense, rainforest-covered mountain ranges, this 37-metre observation tower and more than 1200 metres of walking tracks is a must do for anyone visiting the region.
Got an appetite for adventure? Continue the drive up to Crawford’s Lookout and challenge yourself to a hike through the rainforest. BYO your sense of adventure and a camera; this lookout is simply magic.
6. Hike the Misty Mountains Wilderness Trails
Found in the lush Evelyn Tableland and comprising of four lush walking tracks—Cardwell Range, the Koolmoon Creek, Cannabullen Creek and Gorrell tracks—the Misty Mountains Wilderness Tracks snake their way through part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
Featuring over 130km of breath-taking walking tracks, the Misty Mountains region is revered for its high-altitude rainforest, dotted with waterfalls crystal clear creeks and some of the best panoramic views of Tropical North Queensland. If you’re looking for untouched pockets of paradise, you’ve come to the right place.