chinese banana

Mission Beach, Queensland

Mission Beach is a small village along the Coral Sea in Queensland, Australia. The popular tourist destination of Dunk Island lies 4km offshore.


In the early 20th century Chinese banana farmers employed Aborigines as labourers in the Tully River region. Opium addiction and conflict with European settlers was resolved by the Queensland government creating an Aboriginal settlement at the present Mission Beach. Superintendent John Martin Kenny started the necessary work on 1 September 1914. There was no mission in the religious sense. The settlement had characteristics of a penal settlement.

The Mission Beach structures were destroyed in the cyclone of 10 March 1918 and were not rebuilt. Superintendent Kenny and his daughter were killed by the storm. The Aborigines were subsequently moved to Palm Island, Queensland.

The first white settlers, the Cutten brothers, came to Mission Beach area in 1882 and settled at Bingil Bay, where they farmed mangoes, bananas, pineapples, coffee, citrus fruit and coconuts. They also manufactured their own coffee. Produce was shipped south on cargo-boats. Before this the only white people to enter this area were the timber-getters who sometimes camped on the beach and retrieved timber from the adjacent rain forests. They employed local Aborigines for their assistance in their timber hauling, paying the Aboriginal labourers with tobacco and tools. The natives were generally friendly, although in 1872 the captain and some of the crew of the Maria which was wrecked at Tam O'Shanter were killed by the natives.

After the Cutten brothers, the Unsworths settled at Narragon Beach, the Garners came and settled at Garners Beach, and the Porter brothers settled at what the locals refer to as Porter's Creek (also called Wongaling Creek) at the south end of North Mission Beach.

The town

Today, what were once separate villages have now grown such that they are considered one town, Mission Beach. The villages are, from south to north, South Mission Beach, Wongaling Beach, Mission Beach and Bingil Bay. Development has also begun at Brooks Beach and Garners Beach to the north.


Mission Beach is now a thriving tourist town that has been able to maintain its small town feel. One reason for this is that the town is spread out along a thin strip of land between the ocean and the hills and farmland behind. This has spread out a large tourism market, and the village doesn't feel as busy as one might expect.

The beach is flanked by green mountains rising just a short distance inland, and provides views out to the Family Islands. Close to shore at Mission Beach lies a shallow reef which runs from the mouth of Porter's Creek at the south end of North Mission Beach almost to Clump Point, the rocky point at the north end of Mission Beach. During very low tides portions of this reef are exposed.

Surrounded by World Heritage rainforest on one side and the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef on the other, Mission Beach is home to many wildlife species, most notable is the cassowary. This large flightless bird can be found in the rainforest surrounding the area but is facing extinction due to land clearing, traffic and predators such as wild dogs and feral pigs.

Mission Beach is also the mainland gateway to Dunk Island, with water taxis and ferries shuttling guests and day-trippers out to the island and its resort.

Like many other small Australian towns, Mission Beach has built a monument to its most famous characteristic. The big cassowary, standing 5 metres high, can be found at the Wongaling Beach shopping complex.

Cyclone Larry

On 20 March 2006, Cyclone Larry crossed the coast in between Mission Beach and Innisfail. In addition to structural damage to property, Cyclone Larry also had a tremendous impact on the rainforest and animals of the region, and it will take many years to recover. A shortage of rainforest fruit saw cassowaries seeking food in built up areas and, unfortunately, a number were hit and killed by cars.


The Mission Beach area also supports a sizeable agricultural industry, particularly the cultivation of sugar and bananas. Boutique wineries specialising in tropical fruit wines can also be found in Mission Beach and nearby Kurrimine Beach.

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