It’s a long way to the top, Day 27 – Innisfail

Day 27 Wednesday July 2nd 2014 Innisfail

The day begins clear with rain threatening, by lunchtime it is fine and breezy. We spend the morning at the sugar museum at Mourilyan, brushing up on our sugar education, then go out to the sugar wharf at Mourilyan Harbour. The harbour at the mouth of the Moresby River must be quite deep. It has a narrow entrance between two steep rain forested headlands and unlike Lucinda the wharf is short.

Yesterday we had passed an intriguing pub at South Johnstone but we couldn’t park the van. Being only a short distance away we decided not to let this one go. We cross the South Johnstone River on a large bridge with no rails, these things freak me out. The thought of rushing floodwaters and crocodiles though is enough to give anyone a thirst.

The Criterion Hotel is two storey, XXXX yellow, with all doors and windows open to the breeze in true Queensland style. Two dogs doze in the sun.  A plastic skeleton reclines on a chair on the veranda as do a couple of tourists. The slow-moving barman serves us in silence except for the words “pot or schooner”. A sign on the wall says “Don’t complain about the bar staff, even a toilet can only handle one arsehole at a time”.

South Johnstone has a large sugar mill at the south end and the South Johnstone River at the north end. In between there is a narrow road, about six empty “shops”, the criterion Hotel and a coffee shop called Off the Rails. A cane train line runs through the middle of town along the centre of the bitumen road. Apparently one of only three towns where this occurs, the others being Nambour and Rockhampton. The town is sleepy. There is an old disused hall built of corrugated iron with louvre windows. A few people sit on doorsteps chatting. A young boy stands in the front of a car where the engine used to be taking mechanical instruction from his father. Billets of cane lie crushed in the dusty gutter. A cane train rumbles down the street. The beer is cold. The lady publican gives us a recipe for killing the ferns that grow on palm trees. Something to do with kerosene and bi carb soda, weeds she calls them, weeds.  Not a problem we southerners have to deal with.   

The Criterion Hotel, South Johnstone, Qld
A cane engine rolling down the main street of South Johnstone

Late in the afternoon we drive out to Port Coquette which overlooks both Innisfail and the river mouth. High above the town in a cow paddock stands a Cassowary, at last we’ve found one of the blighters!

Travelling Kms: 0

Finally a cassowary and thankfully behind a fence, they have a reputation you know

2020 Note: For those unfamiliar to XXXX is not a replacement for a less tasteful word but the brand of a popular Queensland beer.

I reckon there maybe a few more towns where the sugar trains trundle through the streets of town and I don’t think they do it in Nambour anymore. If I recall the sugar mill has been replaced with a supermarket.

Now that’s a handsome water tower! Colourful Innisfail, Qld


11 thoughts on “It’s a long way to the top, Day 27 – Innisfail

  1. Back in our Travels – 1998 – watched a cassowary attack a bus. It was at a tearooms on Atherton Tablelands. Bird did not want the bus load of tourists to move and attacked the front of it every time the driver tried to inch forward. They had to wait some 30 minutes for it to get distracted and wander a bit away, then the driver gunned the bus. It disappeared up the hill in a cloud of smoke with the cassowary flat out behind, chasing.


      1. Margaret, think yourself lucky that you don’t have birds that are 5 feet high and have toes designed to quickly open you up straight down the middle. They say birds like crocs are the last of the dinosaur era, a quick look at a cassowary confirms the theory.😱

        Liked by 1 person

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