168. Ingham

Ingham like Innisfail is very much a sugar-cane town, with the usual refinery emitting clouds of steam and a sickly sweet smell, but Ingham is mostly flat with wide streets whereas Innisfail seemed to be all up and down with narrow streets and parking problems. Also Ingham is some kilometres inland. Both have a number of old buildings as well as many new.

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We were heading for Mungalla Station near Forrest Beach, a working property run by the Nywaigi people, who have occupied the lands for thousands of years. It has a proud history with both European and indigenous aspects.

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The entrance to the property is marked by a grove of huge mango trees, then the road twists and turns alongside a waterway full of waterlilies, paddocks of horses, Droughtmaster cattle and geese, and finally to the homestead.

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We were warmly welcomed and directed to camp anywhere alongside the  fence with views over the surrounding land all the way to the mountains. Curious cattle walked along the fence line several times. Below was a waterway but we were cautioned not to go fishing or swimming – crocodiles!

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Mungalla has an interesting history. At one time it was one of the most famous in north Queensland, particularly for its thoroughbred horses bred by the Cassady family. There were formal gardens and tennis courts. James Cassady gave refuge to and actively tried to protect the Aboriginal and Islander people, allowed a number of camps on the property and actively campaigned for better  treatment for these people.

The property was bought by Mont Atkinson in 1944 and he relocated the house to the only spot which had remained above water in the great 1927 floods. The Atkinsons continued the Cassady tradition of breeding racehorses. They also established the famous Droughtmaster breed of cattle, a cross between British breeds and Brahman cattle which proved much more suited to the climate and tick problems of northern Australia.

I’m not sure how it became an Aboriginal property. “Today, the Mungalla Aboriginal Business Corporation and its parent body the Nywaigi Aboriginal Land Corporation which holds title to Mungalla Station have a  mandate to improve the economic and social position of our people.  We have chosen to achieve these aims by sharing the rich history and culture of Mungalla Station with you through our tours.”

Unfortunately we just missed one of these tours.

We went for a short drive to the coast, criss-crossing numerous sugar cane tramway tracks. They even go right through the town. Forrest Beach and Taylors Beach were pleasant places.

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A river near Lucinda……

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… .the port which has the longest sugar loading jetty in the world, 5.7 kms!

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 We could see Hinchinbrook Island clearly despite the haze. Apparently the area is notorious for marine stingers, certainly this sign is the largest we have seen so far.

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That’s the stinger net in the foreground.

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Another day we visited the Tyto Wetlands which form part of the Ingham information Centre, with its extensive interactive displays. There were a number of walking tracks and boardwalks.

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There is special emphasis on the local birds and Dave was able to pick up a very useful booklet so now we will be able to identify all the birds he photographs.

A rainbow bee-eater….

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Masked lapwing…

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Female and male crimson  finch.

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We went for a drive up the range to the Wallaman Waterfall, taking our lunch as it was quite a way. There were a couple of traffic hazards – the cattle on this stretch are obvisouly used to cars and also used to getting their own way!

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The road became very steep, narrow and winding and there were notices about not only straying stock but about wandering cassowaries.

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We were astonished to encounter a large white Brahman-cross bull contentedly munching at the roadside grass. How on earth did he get up so far? It was at least 15 km to the nearest flattish ground, and the road was bordered on both sides by impenetrable bush.

 Half way up we stopped for lunch and to admire the view.  The first photo shows the straight stretch of road with cattle in the previous photo.

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And so finally to the waterfall, the highest single drop waterfall in Australia- 268 metres. Quite impressive.

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Returning on the narrow mountain road we passed the same white bull – and again I ddn’t have my camera ready. Bother bother!

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