A Chronology of Innisfail and District, Far North Queensland.



1848

  • Jun 6:- John MacGillivray, a naturalist with Captain Owen Stanley in the "Rattlesnake" landed on two of the Barnard Islands.(14) Staying until June 12, a landing was also made on the mainland near Liverpool Creek, by John MacGillivray, Thomas Huxley, and Lieutenant Simpson.(14)

1861

  • George Elphinstone Dalrymple established the Valley of Lagoons Station.(14)

1864

  • George Elphinstone Dalrymple founded Cardwell, the first permanent settlement on the Far North Queensland Coast.(14)
  • Thomas Henry Fitzgerald surveyed Mackay.(14) (Also noted as 1860 in the same reference.)(14)

1865

  • Thomas Henry Fitzgerald established the Alexandra Sugar Plantation and Mill near Mackay.(14)(Also noted as 1868 in the same reference.)(14)

1869

  • Dec 29:- The Telegraph line from Townsville to Cardwell was completed by William Strickland.(1)

1871

  • Captain John Moresby RN named the Gladys River after the ship's boat of the HMS "Basilisk". This boat was used by Lieutenant Sydney Smith when he travelled 10 miles up the river.

1872

  • Feb 26:- The unseaworthy brig "Maria", chartered to New Guinea, by a party of adventurers in search of gold, was wrecked on Bramble Reef, north of Cardwell. (5)
  • Feb:- Captain John Moresby on H.M.S. "Basilisk"(5) and Lieutenant Mourilyan searched around Mourilyan Harbour for survivors from the shipwreck of the brig "Maria". The ship "Governor Blackall" under the command of Lieut. Gowlland was sent from Sydney to assist.(5)
  • Mar 17:- An examination was performed of the coast between Port Cooper and Cardwell. (5) "A second party with two boats, and accompanied by Mr. Johnstone and the Native Police, were sent to examine the banks of a large river still further to the northward, marked on the plan as Shoal Rivulet [Johnstone River]. They were absent about 2 days; but with the exception of a felt hat found in a native encampment about 4 miles north up the river no traces of existence of living white men in the neighbourhood were discovered." (QSA. Col/A172 Lieut. Gowlland to the Attorney General.)(5)

1873

  • Sep 9:- George Elphinstone Dalrymple began the most successful expedition of his career.(5)
  • Sep 29:- The Queensland Government sent G. E. Dalrymple, to examine all inlets and rivers between Cardwell and the Endeavour. His little ships were the Flying Fish and the Coquette. With him were Sub-Inspectors F. M. Thompson and R. Johnstone, some native police, and a botanist, Walter Hill.
  • Oct 4:- George Elphinstone Dalrymple accompanied by Sub-Inspector Robert Johnstone and Philip Henry Nind, entered the Glady's River.(16)
  • Oct 14:- After spending 10 days exploring the future site of Innisfail, Dalrymple's expedition struck camp. Dalrymple continued north, while Nind returned south.

1874

  • Feb 23:- George Elphinstone Dalrymple finished his report to the most Honourable the Marquis of Normanby in Council. "82. I therefore considered that I was justified in naming the river after Mr. Johnstone, a gentleman who has become identified with enterprise and discovery on the north east coast and who first brought to light the real character and value of this fine river, and its rich agricultural lands." "83. ... and that its estuary which was examined by Captain Moresby, be called Glady's Inlet" (Queensland Votes and Proceedings 1874 vol.2 pages 622-4)(5) Dalrymple referred to the site of present day Innisfail as "Nind's Camp".(5)
  • James Venture Mulligan travelled from the Palmer River to Cardwell, but used as more inland route than the coast around Innisfail.(14)
  • A party of cedar-getters from Cardwell returned, unable to find any cedar near the Johnstone River.

1876

  • Mar 21:- Heavy gale at Townsville. SS Banshee wrecked at Hinchinbrook Is with seventeen persons drowned.(17)

1878

  • Mar 08:- Tropical Cyclone hit Cairns. Iron roofing flying through air many properties destroyed. Steamer Louise, and sailing vessels Merchant, Kate Conley and Hector Miss were sunk in Cairns inlet with no survivors ever found.(17)
  • The first cedar shipment left the Johnstone River in the "Jessie Kelly".

1879

  • Thomas Henry Fitzgerald "set out for North Queensland in an effort to find suitable sugar lands. He travelled much the same route as Dalrymple, and looked over the areas surrounding the Daintree, Mulgrave, Russell and Johnstone rivers.(14) Fitzgerald was more impressed by the Johnstone river area which he became determined to settle for sugar growing."(5)

1880

  • Mar 4:- Cedar-getter, Jacob Nicholaus August Leopold Stamp was the first settler recorded as taking up residence on his selection.(14)
  • Later this year, cedar-getter Henry Gottfried Scheu also took up residence near Stamp. They called their permanent settlement "Stockton".(14)
  • Fitzgerald and Co. was formed, with the assistance of the Catholic Bishop O'Quinn of Brisbane. The firm included four Sisters of Mercy, and Miss F. H. O'Reilly.(5)
  • Apr 17:- Fitzgerald's expedition left Brisbane on the Steamer "Corea".(5)(14)
  • Apr 22:- Fitzgerald's expedition arrived from Brisbane on the steamer "Corea" and anchored near the mouth of the Johnstone River. "The party consisted 11 Europeans and 20 Kanakas.(14) They were met by Sub Inspector Johnstone in his steam launch "Sabrina". Fitzgerald's outfit included plenty of stores, building material, and two stout boats.(5)(14)
  • Jun 15:- Clearing of land began on the Johnstone River, and the first sugar cane was planted.(5)(14)
  • Eight selections were taken up and plantations established on the Innisfail Estate, Sundown, Innishowen (South Innisfail) and the Junction.

1881

  • Aug 5:- The first sod was turned for the sugar mill on Fitzgerald's "Innisfail" Estate.(5)(14)
  • Oct 20:- CSR's associates William Brown, Edward B. Forrest and John Gebbie selected three 1280 acre blocks in the Parish of Johnstone. (6)
  • Nov 9:- At "Innisfail" Estate, the first sugar mill crushing season began, and continued until 9 January 1882.(5)Forty tons of sugar were produced.(14)
  • Henry G. Scheu established the track from the Innisfail Estate to Mourilyan Harbour.
  • R. T. Hartley reserved the site of "The Junction" for the township of Geraldton.(5)(14)
  • The Queensland Sugar Company took up and built a mill at the Queensland Estate, Innishowen, on the South Johnstone.

1882

  • Jan 09:- The first crushing season ended, having produced over 40 tons of sugar.(6)
  • Feb 02:- Tropical Cyclone hit Cardwell with considerable damage.(17)
  • May 31:- First meeting of the Johnstone Divisional Board.(14)
  • Sep 26:- CSR's agent, E. B. Forrest purchased 12,500 acres from Fitzgerald & Co.(6)
  • Nov 01:- The first Post Office, known as Johnstone River, was opened, with Mr J. E. T. McCarthy as Postmaster on 12 p.a.(5)
  • Nov 30:- Mr T. H. Fitzgerald took over the Johnstone River Post Office from McCarthy until 18th August 1883 at 12 p.a..(5)
  • H. M. Stapleton (1st Chairman of the Johnstone Divisional Board) engaged Christie Palmerston to cut a track from Geraldton to Millaa Millaa.
  • Sub-Inspector Douglas led a party from Herberton to Mourilyan Harbour.
  • The Mourilyan Sugar Company began erecting its own mill.(14)
  • See Poy & Company opened their first store known as "Kam Woh".(19-31Jul1974)

1883

  • Mar 16:- Fitzgerald, a surveyor by profession, surveyed the land taken up at Stockton.
  • Oct 16:- The Surveyor-General named the town "Geraldton".(16) First sale of Geraldton Town allotments. 90 allotments of 1/4 acre each were sold.(14)
  • The Goondi Sugar Plantation was started(14) and the Manager's house was built.(6)
  • Ernest Waraker completed surveying the new town.(14)
  • Land clearing for agriculture began at Mourilyan Harbour.
  • Works in Mourilyan Harbour began.
  • A Pilot Station was set up at Flying Fish Point to handle the Johnstone River boat traffic. Two cottages were built - one for the Pilot, one for the boatman.(16)

1884

  • Jan 21:- The Tender for the construction of a telegraph line from Cardwell to Johnstone River (Geraldton) was accepted.(5)
  • Mar 1:- The first upright of the Mourilyan Sugar Mill was erected.{12)
  • Jul 28:- Construction was complete on Mourilyan Sugar Mill and its first crushing commenced.(12)
  • Nov 18:- CSR approved the dismantling of the disused mill at Southgate on the Clarence River, New South Wales, and to be transported to the North Johnstone for erection in time for the 1885 crushing.(6)
  • Postal Notes were sold for the first time at Geraldton Post Office - 24 at 1/-, 12 at 2/6d, 12 at 5/- and 12 at 10/-. No postal notes were paid during this year.(5)
  • Jul 28:- Mourilyan Mill began its first crushing.(14)(19 12Dec1984)
  • Christie Palmerston again engaged with proper authority to blaze a trail from Geraldton to the Tablelands. The Palmerston Highway substantially follows this route today.(14)
  • A track to Cairns was opened up by way of the lower Russell River.
  • Chinese workers for CSR, cleared 100 acres for cane planting.(6)

1885

  • Apr 2:- The Electric Telegraph Station at Geraldton was opened. Mr. D. Campbell was the Postmaster of the Post and Telegraph Office at the time, and received 30 p.a. for his duties(5)
  • Apr 7:- The Telegraph Line from Cardwell to Johnstone River was finally completed and handed over to the government.(5) The Line followed along the route of the cattle and horse track of Scheu and Stamp.
  • Jun:- The "Sarsfield" and "Karoola" arrived at Goondi with the dismantled sugar mill from the Clarence River.(6)
  • Sep:- The first recorded meeting of the Roman Catholic church.
  • Oct 25:- The CSR Co. had its first crushing at the Goondi Mill. The season lasted until 6 Feb 1886, producing 556 tons of raw sugar from 6633 tons of cane.(6)
  • The Innisfail Estate Sugar Mill closed down. Cane from the Estate was transported to the CSR Goondi Mill via river punts.(6)
  • Scheu undertook the first mail contract by boat between Geraldton and Cardwell.
  • The Johnstone River Rowing Club commenced, but declined before 1930.(16)

1886

  • Feb:- The first official application for a school at Geraldton was made.
  • 14 private boxes were installed at the Geraldton Post Office, however, due to the decline in the needs for this service by 1890 only 9 lock boxes were in service.(5)

1887

  • Jul:- Mr M. O'Donohue by Electric Telegraph, stated that the building of the first school was finished.(5)

1888

  • Nov:- Thomas Henry Fitzgerald died.(14)
  • The Goondi Plantation School of Arts was functioning.(6)
  • Goondi Mill produced around 2400 tons of sugar, and employed 120 Europeans, 271 Kanakas and 44 Chinese.(14)

1890

  • Mar 29:- A severe cyclone crossed the coast near Ingham causing flooding of the Johnstone River(17)
  • The Queensland Government banned the import of Kanakas.

1891

  • Jan:- John McDonnell, Under Secretary and Superintendent, Electric Telegraphs, began moves to have additional accommodation provided at the Geraldton Post Office. The work was finally completed in August 1895(5)
  • Jun 25:- Cairns-Kuranda railway opened for passenger services.
  • Only Mourilyan and Goondi Sugar Mills remain in production.
  • Land previously used for sugar cane was leased to the Chinese for growing bananas.
  • The "Geraldton Advocate" was first published, ceasing in 1899. (9)
  • The first "Shire Hall" was burnt down (10) or 1892 (19 16Feb1993 pg9)
  • The Innisfail Roman Catholic church building was completed. A wooden building with separate bell tower, facing Owen Street.

1892

  • The Port of Mourilyan was officially established.

1893

  • Severe Flood.(8)

1894

  • Severe Flood.(8)

1895

  • A ferry from the Innisfail Estate Plantation to the bank opposite, was constructed for transporting sugar across the North Johnstone River from the Estate for crushing at the Goondi CSR Mill.(6)

1896

  • After the closure of the "Innishowen" mill, sugar from its suppliers was sent to the CSR mill at Goondi. It crossed the South Johnstone River via a portable bridge.(6)

1898

  • George Phillips was contracted by the Johnstone Divisional Board to traverse the route of a projected 2ft. tramline from Innisfail to Herberton.(14)
  • Mr McNeil and Mr Donaldson discovered gold at Jordan Creek.(16)

1899

  • During the flood, the S. S. Polly broke her moorings at Goondi Mill, drifted downstream and lodged in the bank. As the waters subsided, she broke her back.(16)
  • A two-roomed Harbours and Marine School opened at Flying Fish Point, with Ellen Griffith being the first teacher.(16)

1900

  • Innisfail population 1000, predominantly Chinese.

1902 

  • Feb:- Abraham Selim Mellick opened his first shop in The Riverview Hotel building.(19)

1906

  • Jan 28:- Severe Cyclone which crossed the coast near Cairns, devastated Geraldton (Innisfail), destroying buildings and crops.(17)
  • "The Evening Advocate" then known as "The Johnstone River Advocate" was first published.(9)(19-31Jul1974)
  • A S Mellick built the first concrete building in Geraldton, situated in Rankin Street.(19) 

1907

  • The Mourilyan Mill changed hands from the Mourilyan Sugar Company to the Mourilyan Syndicate.(14)

1910

  • Jan:- Tenders were called for the construction of a new Post Office on a new site of the corner of Edith and Rankin Streets. J. G. Corbett's tender for 1327, being the lowest, was accepted.(5)
  • Feb12:- Tom Wilcox, sugar cane farmer of Sundown, was the first subscriber connected to the new Telephone Exchange. (Some sources say the White Horse Hotel, subscriber No.2, was the first.) See 1910 Directory Listing. (5)
  • May 18:- "Geraldton" was changed to "Innisfail"(14)
  • Aug 20:- The Queensland Government Gazette for July-December notified "that the Governor-in-Council has approved of the name of the Town situated at the junction of the North and South Johnstone Rivers, and hitherto known as 'Geraldton', being altered to 'Innisfail', by which name the place will in future be known."
  • The first "On Tai" store opened in Ernest Street, opposite the Crown Hotel.(22)

1911

  • Jan:- A Royal Commission, that was set up by the Queensland Government to investigate expansion of the Sugar Industry, visited South Johnstone.(18)
  • Feb:- The New Innisfail Post Office was finally completed.(5)
  • Approval was granted for the construction of "Jubilee Bridge" across the South Johnstone. It was not opened until 1923.(16)
  • The Innisfail District Motor Boating Club was formed, and had 60 members by 1931. The Club disbanded in 1937.(16)
  • Flood waters broke the bank of the South Johnstone and flowed across the coastal plains and out to Mourilyan Harbour.(16)
  • The Innisfail Methodist Church commenced with a Home Mission.

1912

  • Apr 07:- Tropical Cyclone recurved east of Cairns. Several houses badly damaged at Innisfail. Crop suffered badly, 40 % loss of banana and sugar crops. 4 boats lost.(17)
  • Great Sugar Workers Strike.
  • Coastal vessel S. S. Tully struck rocks near The Coconuts and sank.(16)

1913

  • Jan 31:- Highest recorded Flood.(8) Tropical Cyclone crossed the coast near Cairns. At Innisfail,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   balconies and roofs were lost, though most damage was caused by severe floods. Goods and Buildings washed down River. Four lives lost. In district 90% of banana crop lost and severe damage to other crops. SS Innamincka grounded. Record floods Cairns and Malanda districts with much damage to roads and bridges and railway lines. At Innisfail 100 houses were under water, at Ingham 25 feet of water was over the bridge and at Cairns the Mulgrave was 20 feet over the railway bridge.(17) Approximately 24 Inches of rain fell in 24 hrs at the Johnstone River Head. (19)
  • Oct 05:- The first worship service of the Innisfail Presbyterian Church was held in the Innisfail Court house.(19 1973)
  • The second Shire Hall was burnt down (10)(19 16Feb1993 pg9)

1914

  • Jun 15:- The 2' gauge Innisfail Tramway of 21.11 miles, was opened.(5)
  • Hull River Mission was built to cater for the dwindling number of Aborigines. It was destroyed in the 1918 cyclone.
  • The State Government began construction of its sugar mill at South Johnstone.
  • The Mourilyan Mill changed hands from the Mourilyan Syndicate to the Australian Sugar Company.(14)

1915

  • Feb 15:- The 2' gauge Mourilyan Tramway of 8.24 miles, was opened.(5) And in the same month, the first passenger train ran to the harbour.(19 12Dec1984)
  • The State Government sugar mill at Babinda was completed and had its first crushing season.

1916

  • Jun 5:- The South Johnstone State School opened in temporary premises with 43 students.(18)
  • The first South Johnstone Post Office opened in Hynes Street in a store owned by O'Brien & Vandeleur.(18)
  • The State Government sugar mill at South Johnstone was completed, and had its first crushing season.(6)(18)
  • The first Innisfail Methodist Church was built in Rankin Street (what became "Cotter's Corner"). It ws destroyed in the 1918 Cyclone.

1918

  • Mar 10:- Cyclone caused much structural and crop damage, taking 35 lives and injuring 400.(1) (13) This cyclone is widely regarded as the worst cyclone to hit a populated area of Queensland. It crossed the coast and passed directly over Innisfail. Pen on Post Office barograph was prevented from registering below 948 hPa by flange on bottom of drum. 926 hPa read at the Mourilyan Sugar mill at 7 pm 10 Mar. The eye wall reached Innisfail at 9 pm. In Innisfail, then a town of 3,500 residents, only around 12 houses remained intact the rest being blown flat or unroofed. A report from the Harbours and Marine Engineer indicated that at Maria Creek the sea rose to a height of about 3m above high water (If this refers to HAT the water was 4.65m above the tide for that day). Around  4.40pm 10 Mar at Bingil Bay a tidal wave was seen surging in from the east into Bingil Bay taking the bridge over the creek 400 m inland. Mission Beach was covered by 3.6 m water for hundreds of metres inland, the debris reached a height of 7m in the trees.  All buildings and structures were destroyed by the storm surge in the Bingil Bay Mission beach area. The surge was 2.6m at Flying Fish Point. Babinda also had many buildings destroyed and some reports suggest that not one building was left standing. There was widespread damage at Cairns and on the Atherton Tablelands. Recent reports suggest that 37 people died in Innisfail while 40 to 60 (mostly aborigines) lost their lives in nearby areas.(17)

1919

  • Nov 24:- A 2' gauge north coast junction to Innisfail Junction of 0.91 miles, was opened.(5)

1920

  • A locomotive was assembled at Innisfail for work on the construction of the North Coast Line.
  • South Johnstone Post Office provided Money Order & Savings Bank facilities.(18)

1922

  • Sep 22:- The District Postal Inspector, Cairns, recommended that Innisfail be made the distributing office of postal notes and postage stamps for El Arish, Maria Creek, Construction Camp, Silkwood, South Johnstone, Mourilyan, Goondi and Daradgee Post Offices in lieu of the Townsville Post Office. This was approved on 6th October, 1922, and the services commenced.(5)
  • Dec 30:- The Royal Commission investigating the most suitable location for future sugar mills, recommended Tully.(14)
  • The first aeroplane landed at Innisfail.

1923

  • Sep 18:- The Jubilee Bridge was officially opened by the Premier.(16) It celebrates the 50th anniversary since Dalrymple sailed up the Johnstone River. (8 25Mar1948 pg4)
  • Dec:- The South Johnstone Ambulance took delivery of its first Road Vehicle, a Special Six Studebaker.(18)

1924

  • Dec 8:- The bridge across the North Johnstone River at Daradgee, was finally constructed, completing the North Coast Railway Line from Townsville to Cairns. The North Coast Railway was officially declared open by the Premier of Queensland, Hon. E. G. Theodore at a ceremony at Daradgee on 8th December 1924. The opening was followed by an official luncheon in a marquee at Garradunga.(14)
  • The first North Coast Line train arrived at Innisfail.

1925

  • Dec 15:- Approval was given for the Innisfail Post Office to introduce a Bulk Posting facility.(5)
  • The State Government sugar mill at Tully was completed.
  • The first Passenger Station of the Innisfail Tramways, named "South Innisfail", stood on the river bank at the southern end of Rankin Street. It remained in service till 1948.(16)

1927

  • Feb 09:- Tropical Cyclone crossed the coast just to the north of Cairns. The lowest pressure reading at Cairns was 971 hPa. Many buildings were unroofed or damaged and some 16 totally destroyed. Considerable damage to hotel and houses at Malanda. Sea wall at Cairns broken in several places. The Cyclone turned into a disastrous rain depression. Unprecedented floods occurred in North Coast Rivers. Halifax, Ingham, Innisfail and Tully were partly submerged. There were many drownings 23 at Ingham, 15 at Cardwell and 1 at Townsville. 2,500 cattle and 1,500 horses drowned at Ingham. Rail damage with washaways and many bridges carried away.(17)
  • The State sugar mill at South Johnstone was taken over by the farmers as a co-operative mill.(18)
  • May 25:- South Johnstone Sugar Mill workers started a strike which lasted four months.(18)

1928

  • Approval was given for a Telephone Exchange to be installed at Mena Creek.
  • Aug:- The present (2011) Roman Catholic church building was opened. (19 16Feb1993 pg13)
  • Oct 3:- Commencement of land clearing for the building of the Mena Creek Hotel.

1930

  • Jan 5:- Tropical Cyclone crossed the coast at Princess Charlotte Bay. Two luggers wrecked at Torres Strait. Serious flooding in North Queensland with one man drowned. Washaways, submerged and damaged bridges, dislocated road and rail traffic between Townsville and Cooktown. Crops damaged. Innisfail was isolated with wharves under water.(17)
  • Mar 6:- The Johnstone River Rowing Club, originally begun in 1885, reformed.(16)

1931

  • Jan 1:- Worth's Launches advertised the commencement of regular services from 9:30 am till 7: 30 pm, between Innisfail and Flying Fish Point. The launches were Mandalay, Wanderer, & Olive.(16)
  • T. McDonald of Cairns inaugurated the first commercial flight from Cairns to Innisfail.

1932

  • Jan 19:- Tropical Cyclone tracked from Gulf to east of Townsville. Disastrous flooding between Mackay and Cairns. Two people drowned. Rail line washouts and bridge destroyed over Elliot River. Stock drowned and considerable crop damaged and houses inundated in Innisfail and Tully.(17)   
  • The Palmerston Highway McHugh Bridge over the Beatrice River was opened. (Replaced in 1990).(28)
  • Charles Kingsford-Smith flew "joy flights" in the Southern Cross from Innisfail over the Japoon Valley and Mena Creek.
  • The third Shire Hall was burnt down. (10)(19 16Feb1993 pg9)
  • The Sisters of the Good Samaritan Order established St Rita's Catholic School in the previously Hing Family home at South Johnstone. It commenced with 74 students on Feb 1.(18)

1933

  • Mar 14:- A wire-netting swimming enclosure on the Johnstone River bank, at the western end of The Corso, below the now Bowling Club, opened to the public. It remained in use until the 1940's.(16)
  • Apr 2:- The new St Rita's Catholic School opened on its present site.(18)
  • Innisfail Debating Society opened, with their first subject: "The Press of today is more a curse than a blessing."
  • Work commenced on building the fourth (and current) Shire Hall.(10)
  • Volunteers began construction of a club-house for the Innisfail Rowing Club, on the banks of the Johnstone River.(16)

1934

  • Jan 22:- Tropical Cyclone crossed coast at Cairns. Serious flooding over large part of state with one drowning.(17)

1935

  • The Shire Council built a Water Treatment Plant on the North Johnstone River.(16)

1936

  • A new ferry replaced the original one crossing the Johnstone River in front of the hospital.(16)
1937
  • A concrete vehicular access was constructed on the western side of Mourilyan Road to give access to the Methodist Church and the homes beyond it.(19 07Feb1979)

1938

  • The Mundoo aerodrome was officially taken over.
  • Queensland Forests Pty Ltd established a plant to remove the husks from the nuts of the Tung Oil trees on their 70 acre plantation on the southern bank of the North Johnstone River.(16)
  • The Shire Hall was completed and opened at a cost of 54,725.(10)

1939

  • The Silkwood Ambulance Sub-Centre was established.(18)

1940

  • Mar:- The Innisfail Court House was opened.

1942

  • Apr 21:- USAAF B-25C Mitchell medium bomber #41-12455, of the 90th Squadron of the 3rd Bomb Group based in Charters Towers, crashed into Mount Bartle Frere near Babinda, killing all 7 crew.(15)

1944

  • Feb 28:- USAAF B-24 Liberator, #41-100292, of the 33rd Bomb Squadron of the 22nd Bomb Group, crashed into the sea near Innisfail. The pilot was George E. Nellis.(15)
  • Jun:- The North Queensland Local Authorities Association was formed at Innisfail.(4)

1946

  • Feb 08:- Tropical Cyclone crossed coast near Cairns. Flood rains along the North Coast.(17)
  • Mar 02:- Tropical Cyclone recurved over Cairns and Townsville. Pressures of 983 hPa were read at Cairns and Innisfail. Record flooding occurred in the Burdekin. Considerable damage occurred with the loss of some lives.(17)
  • Dec 10:- An earth tremor shook buildings at South Johnstone and the effect was also felt at Japoonvale.(22 12Dec1946)

1947

  • Apr:- Three doorless type acoustic public telephone cabinets were installed at the Innisfail Post Office.(5)
1951
  • The cutting through the hill on Mourilyan Road was widened, and kerbing, channeling and a concrete foothpath were constructed on the eastern side.(19 07Feb1979)

1954

  • May 4:- The South Johnstone Post Office recorded an earth tremor causing windows to rattle and staff to be knocked to the floor.(18)(22 05May1954)
  • Jul 31:- The telegraph office at the Innisfail Railway Station closed.(5)
  • The first Innisfail Sugar Festival was held.(21)

1956

  • Mar 06:- Tropical Cyclone Agnes passed right over Townsville Met Office with bar down to 961 hPa. It moved up to Ingham and then westward into the Interior. Widespread damage between Cairns and Mackay. Maximum wind gusts 73 knots at Townsville and 79 knots at Cairns. Damage at Cairns similar to that at Townsville due to extremely gusty westerly winds. Four deaths occurred from floods in the Interior.(17)

1957

  • Jul 3:- A Postmaster's residence in Cahill Street was acquired for $6,304.00.(5)
  • Sep 18:- Phonogram facilities were introduced at the Innisfail Post Office.(5)

1958

  • Construction of a concrete wharf at Mourilyan Harbour commenced.
  • The Innisfail Convent in Rankin Street was destroyed by fire.
  • Dec 1:- An earthquake of 4.5 on Richter Scale shook Cairns.(19)

1959

  • The Italian community paid tribute to the pioneers of Innisfail's sugar industry by erecting a white marble statue of a canecutter, in thanks for the prosperity the industry has brought them.
  • Nerada Tea plantations started.(10)

1960

  • Oct 1:- The Official opening of the Bulk Sugar Terminal at Mourilyan to handle four nearby sugar mills.

1961

  • Jan 9:- The contract was let to L. Tinsley & Co. Innisfail, for the construction of a new Telephone Exchange.(5)
  • Dec 12:- St Alban's Anglican Hall was officially opened by Bishop Ian Snevill.(19 05Dec1973)

1962

  • May:- The new Telephone Exchange next to the Post Office in Rankin Street was completed at a cost of $157,635.55.(5)

1963

  • Mar:- Earth tremors shallowed the entrance to Mourilyan Harbour by as much as 18 inches.(7)

1964

  • Apr 15/16:- Tropical Cyclone Gertie recurved to NE of Whitsunday Group. Heavy coastal rain with sugar cane damaged around Cairns and Innisfail. Flood waters damaged railway lines and bridges and a few cars were lost in swollen creaks.(17)
  • Dec 06:- Tropical Cyclone Flora from Gulf entered Coral Sea near Innisfail and moved towards ESE. Cape Cleveland reported 75 knot gusts with tree damage and paint stripped off lighthouse. At Palm Is power lines were blown down, coconut trees snapped and uprooted  and small craft were destroyed. Lucinda lost power. Severe flooding occurred with the main northern railway line washed away in several places. Cardwell was isolated by flooding.(17)

1965

  • Jan 30:- Long lived Tropical Cyclone Judy came from the Gulf into Coral Sea near Innisfail and brought flood rains to North Coast.(17)
  • The first molasses tank at Mourilyan Harbour was erected with a 12,000 tonne capacity.
  • The opening of Geraldton Bridge across the Johnstone River beside the old ferry crossing.(16)

1966

  • Feb 14:- Decimal Currency introduced. See Poy's issued Play Money stickers to celebrate.
  • Jul 3:- at 6:30am the new Automatic Telephone Exchange was cutover, with 1075 services.(5)
  • Jul 25:- The new Telephone Exchange was officially opened by Hon. Alan S. Hume, the Postmaster General.(5)

1967

  • Mar:- Severe Flood(8)

1968

  • Feb 26:- Demolition of the old Post Office at the corner of Edith and Rankin Streets began. A temporary Post Office had been set up at the R.S.L. Hall on Fitzgerald Esplanade.(5)

1969

  • Oct 4:- The new Post Office was officially opened by Hon. Alan S. Hume, the Postmaster General.(5)

1970

  • Feb 15:- St Rita's War Memorial Catholic Church at South Johnstone was opened.(18)

1971

  • The Commonwealth Science Block was constructed at the Innisfail State High School.

1972

  • Dec 15:- The North Queensland Conservatorium of Music on River Avenue was opened by the Premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen.(19)

1973

  • Jun 10:- The New South Johnstone Ambulance Centre was opened.(18)
  • Jun 9-11: - The Innisfail Centenary Year Band Festival was held with 13 Bands from Proserpine to Mt Isa to Cairns participating.(26)
  • Jul 9:- The Centenary Bridge over the South Johnstone River was opened.(23)
  • Jul:- The State Cabinet with Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, met in Innisfail.(23)
  • Mourilyan Harbour sugar shed was increased in size.
1974
Jun:- The Innisfail Blue Nursing Service was commenced.

1975

  • The first house, 21 Mary Street, was connected to the Innisfail sewage system(20 26Feb1975)

1976

  • Jan 17:- The first residents move into Warrina Aged Care Home in Tulip Street(19 16Jan1976)

1977

  • Jan 31:- Tropical Cyclone Keith first hit the coast east of Cairns, then moved back over the ocean and crossed the coast again at Cape Cleveland. Only minor wind damage occurred, however wind and rain combined to cause extensive losses to the banana and sugar crop. Floods cut the highway between Cairns and Townsville. Two men were killed when a yacht smashed into rocks on the western side of Acheron Is.(17)
  • Mar 6/10:- Tropical Cyclone Otto moved from the Gulf into the Coral Sea near Cape Tribulation and made landfall again near Bowen. There was no significant wind damage however it severely aggravated already serious floods between Cairns and Ingham which resulted in $6 (1977) million crop and property damage. Heavy seas destroyed 1200m of the esplanade at Machans Beach Cairns.(17)
  • Jun 22:- The Methodist Church at 18 Mourilyan Road held their last worship service.(19 23Jun1977)

1979

  • Jan 01/02:- Tropical Cyclone Peter moved from the Gulf to the Cairns region where it moved back overland. There was no significant wind damage, however there was record rainfall. On 5 Jan Mt Bellenden Ker (1554 m elevation) recorded 1947 mm of rain in 48 hours.  Serious flooding occurred from Tully to Cooktown especially around Cairns. Flood damage was estimated at $10 (1979 million) and there were two deaths.(17)
  • Sep 26:- A fire caused major damage of around $250,000 to the Regent Arcade in Edith Street.(19 28Sep1979)
  • Oct 17:- $160,000 Tea Packing Factory for Nerada Tea was opened at Clifford Road.(19 17Oct1979)
  • Dec 23:- Fire destroyed much of Paronella Park (19 24Dec1979)

1980

  • The South Johnstone State Preschool was opened by Mrs Vicki Kippen.(18)

1981

  • Feb 26:- Tropical Cyclone Freda developed near Cooktown and moved away from the coast. There was flooding in the Barron, Herbert, Tully and Johnstone rivers. A 10 m trawler capsized 300 km east of Mackay. The crew of 4 were rescued.(17)
  • See Poy's store closed, 1 month short of trading for 100 years. (19)

1982

  • May 12:- The Innisfail Lioness Club was chartered.(19)

1986

  • Feb 1:- Tropical Cyclone Winifred crossed the coast with a radar eye diameter of 41 km just south of Innisfail. The worst affected areas were between Babinda and Tully. Instrumentation at Cowley Beach, which was near the southern eye wall at landfall, showed the maximum 10 min average wind was between 68 knots and 83 knots. Further to the north the maximum gust at Cairns was 64 knots. Central pressures of 958 hPa were observed at both Cowley Beach and South Johnstone. Some extreme wind effects where observed to the north in the westerly winds. A house severely damaged on a 70 m ridge north of Innisfail was calculated (By James Cook Uni) to have been hit a 145 knot gust. Generally house damage was not as severe with mostly roof and superficial damage. A near record flood occurred in the Herbert R. and a major flood occurred in the Tully R. The total coast of Damage reached 130  million 1986 dollars of which $87M was agricultural damage. There was a 1.6m storm surge on the gauge at Clump Pt.  There were 3 deaths two from wind effects and one drowning.(17)

1987

  • The CSR sugar mill at Goondi closed.

1988

  • Apr 09:- The Uniting Church Worship Centre at Scullen Avenue was opened and dedicated.
  • Apr 27:- The Australian Sugar Industry Museaum at Mourilyan was officially opened.(19 29Apr1988)
  • 16 Troop 18 Field Squadron Royal Australian Engineers built the rope bridge over Mena Creek Falls.

1989

  • Nov 16:- Earthquake of 4.3 on the Richter Scale shook Innisfail at 9:45pm.(19)

1990

  • May:- The new Palmerston Highway McHugh Bridge over the Beatrice River was opened.(19)
  • May 13:- About 3:35pm Innisfail was shaken by a Level 4.5 earthquake - the epicentre was bout 100km ENE of Innisfail.(19 15May1990)
  • Dec 22/25:- Tropical Cyclone Joy intensified as it approached Cairns and late on 22 Dec it developed a circular radar eye 50 km in diameter 200 km NE of Cairns. It then became slow moving and developed the concentric eye pattern of the very severe tropical cyclone. The strongest winds at Cairns with gusts to 67 knots were recorded late on 23 Dec when Joy was 130 km NE of Cairns. An AWS on Green Island recorded a gust of 97 knots. The cyclone gradually lost intensity after 24 Dec and crossed the coast near Townsville as a much weaker system. Destructive winds buffeted the Coasts and Tablelands between Cape Tribulation and Innisfail. There was structural damage to buildings however large economic losses resulted from damage to crops , road surfaces, power lines and water supplies.(17)

1992

  • May 16:- The new Warrina Lakes Residential Village was officially opened.(19 19May1992)

1993

  • Dec 11:- The White Horse Hotel on the corner of Edith & Owen Streets closed. It commenced life as a single-storey boarding house run by Mrs Jemima Hearn in the 1890's. When rebuilt after the 1918 Cyclone, the hill it was on, was levelled, and it became a two-storey building.(19)

1994

  • Jan 31:- Major flooding closed the Palmerston Highway and the Bruce Highway north & south.(19)
  • Mar 12:- "Bob Moyle Park" was officially opened at Polly Creek.(19 22Mar1994 pg5)
  • May 21:- The New $2.4million Warrina Nursing Home was offically opened.(19 26May1994)
  • The movie "All Men Are Liars" was filmed at South Johnstone.(18)
1995
  • Sep 09:- The Airdome Theatre in Rankin Street showed its last screening.(19 23Aug1995)

1997

  • Mar 22:- Tropical Cyclone Justin crossed the coast near Cairns while rapidly intensifying and with a radar eye diameter of about 25 km. The maximum winds reported were from Green Island AWS with average winds to 55 knots and gusts to 69 knots. The lowest pressure there was 994.6 hPa in the eye. Two people were killed as Justin passed over the area. A lady was killed by a landslide at Paluma near Townsville. A boy was electrocuted by a fallen power line at Innisfail 70 km south southeast of Cairns. The total horticultural and sugar cane damage bill is expected to reach $150,000,000.  Damage to roads and bridges etc are expected to exceed $20.000,000. Cairns harbour wall was badly damaged and 50 berths in the marina were destroyed. There was widespread tree damage which brought down power lines and caused massive blackouts. Large landslides covered roads leading up into the Atherton Tablelands.. In the Tablelands fifteen homes were damaged by trees smashing through roofs. There was also wind damage in the Townsville area. Thirteen flooded homes were evacuated in Dimbulah.  Major flooding occurred in the Johnstone, Tully and Herbert Rivers. Ten houses were inundated at Innisfail.  Four houses were inundated at Cardwell. At Deeragun in Townsville 60cm of water covered the suburb and several houses were evacuated. At Giru the town was covered by 25 cm of water.(17)

2005

  • New high bridge across the South Johnstone River behind the South Johnstone Sugar Mill was completed.(18)
  • On Tai store in Edith Street closed.(22 02Jul2005)

References: Much material has been gathered over some time and original sources are unknown. Where sources are known, they are referenced below.

It's an unfortunate part of the world that we live in that allows Pornography to take over previously legitimate Links. Please advise me if any reference links are invalid. (Email link on home page) 

  • (1) "Unsung Heroes of the Queensland Wilderness" - by Glenville Pike 2001 Glenville Pike, Published by Central Queensland University Press.
    (2) "Innisfail State School, A History of the School and the District, 1 July 1887 - 1987"
    (3) "Radiant Green - the Story of H. A. NOONE, Pioneer of Innisfail, North Queensland" - by Mena Fallon. Published by Pinevale Publications, Mareeba. ISBN 0 7316 9313 2  
    (4) "The North Queensland Register" June 20, 1953 Page 43 
    (5) "An Australian Post Office History - Innisfail" by Malcolm M. Rea, Historical Officer, Public Relations Section, Australian Post Office, 1st Floor, G.P.O., Brisbane. Qld. 4000. Undated but estimated 1969-1970.
    (6) "The History of Colonial Sugar Refinery's Goondi Mill 1881 to 1987" by Mrs V. J. Robertson and Mr John Guglielmi, in "Innisfail & District Historical Society, 1991, Vol. 7"
    (7) Newspaper Clipping - unknown Newspaper.
    (8) Bureau of Meteorology Web site "Flood Warning System for the Johnstone River" http://www.bom.gov.au
    (9) "Historical Notes on North Queensland Newspapers" by Sallie Webster. (Link inactive Feb 2011)
    (10) Fairfax Walkabout Australian Travel Guide. (Link inactive Feb 2011)
    (11) History of Queensland - Palmer Days and Afterwards. (Link no longer available)
    (12) Email from Ron Madden 2005-03-03.
    (13) "Last Leaves From Dunk Island" - by E. J. Banfield (1925)
    (14) "Johnstone Shire" and other Roneo'd sheets on Innisfail. Date estimated about 1973.
    (15) Peter Dunn's "Australia At War"
    (16) "The Johnstone River" by R. A. Ovenden 2004 Ronald Ovenden
    (17) "Tropical Cyclone Impacts Along the Australian East Coast from November to April 1867 to 2000" by Jon Nott, James Cook University
    (18) "Basilisk - Township of South Johnstone" by Santina Lizzio 2006
    (19) Innisfail Advocate
    (20) Innisfail Chronicle
    (21) Photo at the Con Theatre office.
    (22) Cairns Post
    (23) Cairns Post 10 Jul 1973
    (25) The Evening Advocate 31 Jul 1974
    (26) Innisfail Centenary Year Band Festival Innisfail 1973 Program.

 

 

 

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