TRAVEL: INNISFAIL, QLD
Lush Innisfail is more than just a thoroughfare for those travelling to Far North Queensland. The Allsops report.
Many travellers pass through Innisfail, Qld, on their way north to Cairns or west to the Atherton Tableland, but few linger long enough to enjoy what this tropical area has to offer.
Denyse and I have been visiting Innisfail’s Flying Fish Point Tourist Park for at least 15 years and have witnessed its development over that time. Andre Nurzenski purchased the park about nine years ago and has taken it to a new level. Although the park has suffered severe damage from cyclones, it has always bounced back better than before, thanks to lots of hard work by Andre and his wife, Nita.
FLYING FISH POINT TOURIST PARK
This very popular park is only 7km from Innisfail, near the mouth of the Johnstone River. Being medium-sized, it is often booked out during the winter. When we arrived, vans were being turned away each day and we were pleased we had booked. It is directly across the road from the beach, which is great for walking and fishing.
The park has shady, private powered and unpowered sites and various types of cabin accommodation. Many of the powered sites have palms between them for privacy and back onto a large grassy area with dense rainforest behind. It is not uncommon to see a cassowary there. Andre likes to put you on site so, if you have any problems reversing in, take advice from an expert.
There is a small camp kitchen, TV room, book exchange, pool and a mini golf course for guests. The amenities block has very large showers with heaps of hot water, and also has a disabled bathroom and a dump point. Good TV reception is ensured by a free cable to each site, and we had two bars of reception on both our Telstra Next G mobile phone and mobile wireless broadband without using our antenna. Free wi-fi is also available.
General supplies, papers and magazines (including Caravan World), some take-aways and proper coffee are all for sale in reception. This tourist park also incorporates a post office.
Andre has planted several types of citrus and fruit trees, including lemonade fruit, passion fruit and paw paws, to be shared with his guests. He has placed dozens of orchids on the tree trunks throughout the park and they make a wonderful display when in flower during spring and summer. Spectacular flowering potted orchids are often seen in the office.
Andre and Nita are mostly responsible for this park’s popularity. Twice a week, Andre cooks for guests, and he meets and welcomes everyone and chats to them.
Saturday roast night is legendary: for just $10 you get a huge plate of roast meat and gravy, potatoes and pumpkin, plus seconds and various raffles. Wednesday night is happy hour evening when Andre supplies substantial nibblies, including chicken wings, sausages and other goodies, free for his guests. During the year, there are various special functions such as Masquerade and Australiana nights and, of course, Christmas in July. The park does take dogs on application, but check with management first.
I asked Denis and Cheryl Kennedy from Melbourne, Vic, why they choose Flying Fish Point Tourist Park. "We love the park and atmosphere, and we will book in for a longer visit on the way back from Port Douglas," they said. This was typical of all the people we spoke to.
I caught both flathead and bream from the beach across the road from the park, and a neighbour caught several nice whiting about 100m further north. The best hauls come from the reefs offshore.
Beach walks and fishing are certainly very popular in Innisfail and, about 100m down the road from the park, there is a beachfront licensed restaurant/take-away. The park is only 4km from Ella Bay National Park, which has pristine beaches and tropical rainforest. It is only a short drive to Eubenangee Swamp National Park where you should see a multitude of birdlife and large crocs. We saw a huge croc this time.
While visiting Coquette Point, on the opposite side of the bay, we saw a cassowary that kindly allowed us to take several pics before disappearing into the rainforest.
A short drive south brings you to the Australian Sugar Museum. After having a look there, turn left for the pretty drive to Etty Bay, which is another favourite haunt for the cassowary, so please drive carefully. Etty Bay is a typical small tropical beach, surrounded by palms and rainforest and is great for swimming.
Josephine Falls is about 25km away and there is a very scenic 700m walk to the falls. A good half-day trip would be to the falls and then return via Eubenangee Swamp.
Don’t forget to visit Paronella Park with its historic buildings, rainforest, hydro-electric scheme and other special features.
Innisfail has an attractive grassy riverbank next to the boat harbour, so take a picnic or buy lunch from one of the cafes. After this, do the town walk to see one of the highest concentrations of Art Deco buildings in a town area in Australia. In particular you should not miss the Regional Shire Hall, renovated after Cyclone Larry damaged it along with most of the town in 2006. Ask at the desk for a tour of the magnificent hall. There is a brochure outlining the town’s Art Deco walk available from the visitor information centre.
In town, you will find Woolworths, Coles and IGA supermarkets and the usual shops associated with a town of this size. Everyone is very helpful and friendly; OPSM mended my broken spectacles with a smile and at no charge.
Another local attraction is the Botanical Gardens and Warrina Lakes complex. This is just a nice, quiet place for a picnic, to feed the ducks, and take a walk through the gardens.
Innisfail is only 88km from Cairns, and about an hour’s drive from the Atherton Tablelands. A number of park guests we met told us they were staying at Flying Fish Point Tourist Park for several weeks, making Flying Fish Point their base to do day trips to Cairns, as well as the Tablelands, and also to drive the waterfall and lakes circuits.
One of our favourite rainforest and waterfall walks is from the Henrietta Creek camping ground, around 30km up the Palmerston Highway west of Innisfail. The walk leads past Silver Creek Falls to Nandroya Falls, which can be really spectacular. This is World Heritage-listed rainforest at its best.
This vibrant green area of Queensland has much to offer the RVer. You won’t be sorry if you put it on your itinerary and stay a while at the very friendly Flying Fish Point Tourist Park.
· Innisfail is 88km south of Cairns on the Bruce Highway. Flying Fish Point is 7km east of Innisfail on Flying Fish Point Road.
· Eubenangee Swamp NP, 31km north of Innisfail: bird-watching, wildlife and croc-spotting.
· Paronella Park, 1671 Innisfail Japoon Road, Mena Creek: historic buildings, rainforest, hydro-electric scheme.
· Ella Bay NP, 9km north of Innisfail: pristine beaches and rainforest walks.
· Australian Sugar Heritage Centre, Bruce Highway, Mourilyan, www.sugarmuseum.com.au
· Beach fishing, bushwalking.
· More information visit www.cassowarycoast.com.au
· Innisfail Information Centre, corner Bruce Highway and Eslick Street,
(07) 4061 2655, open seven days.
Originally published in Caravan World #517, August/September 2013