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Innisfail Local History

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Local History of Innisfail, Queensland, Australia

Innisfail is a town located in the Cassowary Coast Region in Queensland, Australia. The town is situated on the banks of the Johnstone River, approximately 90 kilometres south of Cairns.

The area where Innisfail is situated has been inhabited by Indigenous Australians for thousands of years. The local Indigenous tribes were the Jirrbal and Mamu people, who lived off the land and the rivers. They had a rich culture of hunting, fishing, gathering, and storytelling.

The first Europeans to explore the area were British sailors who arrived in the late 18th century. However, it wasn't until the late 1800s that Europeans began to settle in the area.

One of the early settlers was Thomas Henry Fitzgerald, who arrived in the area in the 1870s. He established a sugar plantation on the Johnstone River and named it after his birthplace in Ireland, Innisfallen. The name was later changed to Innisfail due to a clerical error.

The sugar industry quickly became the mainstay of the local economy. The fertile soil, abundant rainfall, and the Johnstone River provided ideal conditions for growing sugarcane. The region became known as the "sugar capital of Australia" and Innisfail became a busy town with a thriving port.

Innisfail was also home to a large Italian community. Italian immigrants arrived in the late 1800s and early 1900s to work in the sugar industry. They established their own community and brought with them their own culture, traditions, and food. Today, Innisfail is still home to a large Italian community, and their influence can be seen and tasted throughout the town.

However, the town's prosperity was threatened by natural disasters. Cyclones, floods, and droughts took a toll on the local economy and the community. One of the worst disasters was the 1918 cyclone, which devastated the town and surrounding areas. Many lives were lost and the damage was extensive.

Despite the challenges, Innisfail and its people persevered. They rebuilt and replanted, and the town continued to grow. Today, Innisfail is a thriving town with a rich history and culture. It is a popular tourist destination and a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest.

Innisfail's history is a testament to the resilience and strength of its people. The town has faced many challenges, but it has always bounced back. Today, it is a vibrant community that celebrates its past and embraces its future.

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