South Central: The Cassowary Coast

The South Central Coast - also called the Cassowary Coast - stretches from Cairns southward to Ingham, dissected by the Bruce Highway which meanders through mill towns surrounded by cane fields and fruit farms.

While most of the coastal lowlands has been cleared, there are still plenty of natural places to explore - from isolated tropical beaches to Queensland's two highest mountains, the mist-shrouded Bartle Frere and Bellenden Ker.

The coastal towns are the wettest in Australia receiving as much as 4 metres (13 feet) of rain each year. The high rainfall produces special features which attract visitors to the Cassowary Coast - beautiful waterfalls, white-water rapids and luscious green forests. If you are lucky, you may see one of the magnificent birds that have lent the Cassowary Coast its name.

The endangered cassowary is Australia's largest flightless bird, standing as a high as a human with a colourful red and blue neck. There are a number of cassowaries around the coastal village of Mission Beach, so please drive carefully while you are travelling through this area. Unfortunately, careless drivers are one of the main reasons why these birds are being pushed closer to extinction. Feeding cassowaries might be seen as helpful by some people but it is actually very dangerous and also another cause of cassowary deaths.

This region extends into the dry end of the tropics and the forests here are quite different to those in the north. The trees often have smaller leaves and hoop pines grow here rather than the kauri pines of the northern forests.
The World Heritage Area also includes magnificent stands of tall eucalypt forest and dry tropical open woodlands. Enjoy this diversity when exploring the local walking tracks and waterholes. The southern wet tropics region also includes numerous spectacular waterfalls such as Wallaman Falls, Murray Falls and Blencoe Falls. Scenic drives and walks through state forest and national parks abound around the Cardwell and Ingham areas.

The Kirrama Range Road

Notwithstanding the history of logging in the region, in 1988 the UNESCO World Heritage Committee still saw the area as suitable for listing of the Area. The effect was significant, causing the collapse of logging towns as progressive commercial centres. Communities such as Society Flat were abandoned. Logging families chose to leave the area with the need to find work. This facilitated Indigenous people to renew access to their land and enabled new opportunities for grazing, land management and resource use for those who had continued to live at Kirrama over this period.

Many Aboriginal and logging families have shown a remarkable story of adaptation and response throughout the history of the Kirrama Range. They hold a strong connection with the land around Kirrama Range, and are involved with its protection today. The World Heritage listing of the Kirrama Range has now empowered all parties to work together in order to preserve this beautiful region.

There are many activities on offer in the Kirrama Range, which showcase its stunning environment and hisory. These include hiking, cultural tours, camping, mountain biking, motor biking and 4WD touring. 

A boardwalk at Society Flat enables visitors to appreciate the grandeur of the kauri pines and rose gums, and the distinctions between open woodland and dense rainforest and logged and unlogged areas. The interpretive signs erected at Society Flat highlight outstanding features along the route to enhance and add to the visitor experience.

The Kirrama Range Road links access to two National Parks ‘Great Walks’ – The Wet Tropics Great Walk in Girringun National Park, and the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island.

The Wet Tropics Great Walk is one of Queensland’s most stunning multiday hikes. Passing through Girringun National Park, it offers stunning views and camping along the Herbert River Gorge amidst beautiful rainforest. The Wet Tropics Great Walk follows the Herbert River, crosses near the Kirrama Range Road, and ends at the impressive Blencoe Falls. You can find more information on the national parks website here.

Hinchinbrook Island lies to the east of Kirrama Range Road, and is a popular area for fishing, sailing and hiking. The highly acclaimed Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island is named after conservationists Margaret and Arthur Thorsborne. This trail offers stunning rainforest, mountains and woodlands with possible glimpses of dugongs, Pied Imperial-pigeons and the threatened Beach Stone-curlew.

Local knowledge is the best knowledge - call in to a visitor information centre for more information on exploring the Kirrama region. 

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