Important sugar growing town north of Townsville
Ingham is a sugar town which is located 29 km from the mouth of the Herbert River and 14 m above sea level. The flat lands between the coast and the mountains are criss-crossed with narrow gauge tramways which bring sugar into the Mackande and Victoria sugar mills. In recent times Ingham, which is essentially a service centre, had opened the impressive TYTO Wetlands Centre, a multipurpose centre designed to cover "Art, Culture, Nature and Knowledge". Beyond TYTO's excellent wetlands with their impressive 240 species of birds, the centre has a regional art gallery and a small military museum.
Ingham is located 1,448 km north of Brisbane and 113 km north of Townsville. It is located 29 km from the mouth of the Herbert River and 14 m above sea level.^ TOP
Origin of Name
William Ingham, who had been educated at Oxford, was only 22 when he arrived in the area and began growing and processing sugar cane. When the town was surveyed in 1875 it was named Ingham after a petition was submitted by the local residents. Ingham died in 1878 when, according to a survivor, he was roasted and eaten by the natives on Brooker Island off the coast of Papua New Guinea.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
TYTO Wetlands Centre and Visitor Information
Located at 73-75 McIlwraith Street, the TYTO Wetlands Centre (named after the Tyto - an Eastern Grass Owl) is a multipurpose centre designed to cover "Art, Culture, Nature and Knowledge". It operates as everything from a Visitor Information Centre through a Conference Centre to a Wedding destination, a Library, a Regional Art Gallery, a Heritage and Military Museum, a bird watching destination, wetlands and parklands. For comprehensive information check out http://www.tyto.com.au.
The TYTO Wetlands is a 110 ha wetland area which boasts 240 species of birds (it is home to 27.4% of Australian bird species), unique flora and communities of agile wallabies. The map, which is available at the Visitor Centre, is particularly helpful with its clear information about viewing platforms, bird hides, specific bird habitats and detailed information about the three main walks - the Tyto Wetlands Circuit (2 km - 50 mins); Pandanus Trail (780 m - 20 mins) and Whistler's Walk (470 m - 15 mins). The TYTO website notes that "The Jabiru, Golden-headed Cisticola, Crimson Finch and the Comb Crested Jacana are just some of the birds regularly sighted in the TYTO Parklands and the surrounding lagoons. Venture further afield, along one of the walking tracks, into the heart of TYTO Wetlands and discover the Eastern Grass Owl or capture a Darter, perched, drying it’s wings. Nearby bushland, vegetated banks and shallow wetlands provide the perfect habitat for the wide array of birdlife found at TYTO. For a full list of the birds that inhabit the Parklands and the Wetlands please see below. The most rewarding experiences for wildlife are found in the early morning or late afternoon. Explore on your own or take a tour with our expert guides".
Sugar Tracks - Heritage Tour and Display
Near the cafe and regional art gallery is the interesting and unusual Sugar Tracks - Heritage Tour and Display. It is a fascinating journey with the processes of sugar production depicted by 18 pieces of historic machinery. There is a brochure available at the Visitor Information but, equally, each piece of machinery has a sign explaining its function. The 18 are:
1. Whole Stalk Planter
2. Cane Bins (see pic)
3. Ripper Cultivator or Grubber
4. Whole Stalk Cane Truck
5. Stubbler Shaver
6. Whole Stalk Planter
7. Vibrator Fertilizer Distributor
8. Swing, Pony or Mouldboard Plough
9. Cane Cleaner
10. Cane Crushing Mill
11. Cog or Gear
12. Spinner Weeder
13. Ripper Cultivator or Grubber
14. Cane Cleaner
15. Hay Mower
16. Drill Plough
17. Horse Drawn Single Furrow Disc Plough
18. Spinner Weeder
Ingham Court House
Located at 35-39 Palm Terrace and built in 1948, the Ingham Court House is the work of English architect (who emigrated to Queensland), John Hitch. Hitch's design "attempted to incorporate innovative climatic design with a "contemporary" design acceptable within the departmental and ministerial understanding" and successfully achieved what he called "newly established post-war imagery of a public building". The Queensland Heritage Register goes on to explain: "The Ingham Court House was designed and constructed as a two storeyed brick and reinforced concrete structure with an impressive entrance and stair hall to the first floor court rooms. Sun control was effected within the building by recessed wall surfaces broken by piers and horizontal metal sun hood spaced to promote convectional air flow. Mechanical ventilation equipment was installed within the roof space under a curved ridge line. This innovative roof profile, which was apparently a casualty of an on-site design change, was a response to cyclonic wind speeds, and anchored down to reinforced concrete perimeter beams." For more detailed information check out https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=601546,
For years it was accepted that Taylors Arm in New South Wales was The Pub with No Beer, a famous ditty which had been written by Gordon Parsons and sung by Slim Dusty.
One problem: The song wasn’t written by Gordon Parsons and the true pub is Lee's Hotel, 58 Lannercost Street, in Ingham.
The song was based on the poem A Pub Without Beer written by Ingham sugarcane farmer and poet Dan Sheahan. Sheahan wrote the poem about the Day Dawn Hotel, now known as Lees Hotel. In December 1943, American servicemen from the 22nd Bomb Group passed through Ingham on their way to Port Moresby. They stopped at the Day Dawn Hotel overnight and, to celebrate their victory in the Battle of the Coral Sea (a rather dubious excuse as it had been fought and won 18 months earlier), drank the pub dry.
The following day Dan Sheahan, wanting a drink, rode his horse 30 kilometres to the hotel. He found that the soldiers had drunk all the beer and so he settled for a glass of wine and, as the story goes, he was instantly inspired and wrote the poem in the pub as he sipped his wine.
The poem was published in The North Queensland Register in early 1944. It was subsequently rewritten in 1956 by Gordon Parsons who changed it substantially and peopled it with regulars from the Taylors Arm Hotel. Parsons was a folk singer/bush balladeer and he duly set his words to music. Parsons claimed that he did not know where the original poem came from. However, years later, Slim Dusty was in Ingham and he met Dan Sheahan. He was convinced by Sheahan’s story and was happy to acknowledge the true source of the song. Lee's Hotel replaced the Day Dawn Hotel in 1960. In 1986, The Australian Bicentennial Heritage and Environment Program recognised Lee's Hotel as the official Pub with No Beer and acknowledged Dan Sheahan as the author of the poem. Lee's Hotel underwent a million-dollar refurbishment in 2012 and now includes memorabilia of Ingham’s early days as well as a tribute to Dan Sheahan and Slim Dusty. Lee's Hotel was Heritage Listed in 2005 and underwent a million-dollar refurbishment in 2011. It now includes memorabilia of Ingham’s early days as well as a tribute to Dan Sheahan and Slim Dusty.
Other Attractions in the Area
The Cemetery and the Victoria Mill
The Ingham Cemetery is truly remarkable. It is located 4.5 km from the centre of town via Cartwright Street which becomes Sir Arthur Fadden Drive which, in turn, becomes Cemetery Road. The cemetery is a reminder of the rich multiculturalism of the town and the hardy workers who were attracted by the sugar industry. The town's large Italian community (it has been estimated that over 50% of Ingham have Italian ancestors) have built elaborate family mausoleums which make the cemetery look more like a city in miniature than a conventional graveyard. The cemetery was established in 1949. The older mausoleums were constructed using white stucco and marble and often had Gothic windows and doors. The more recent ones have tiles and parapets. The largest mausoleum, which was built in 1955, takes up eight burial plots.
Victoria Mill and Macnade Mill
Beyond the cemetery is the Victoria Mill. The mill is operational from June to November during which time it crushes up to 3.74 million tonnes of sugar. It is one of the largest sugar mills in Australia. There is an interesting history of the mill which can be accessed at http://www.zelmeroz.com/album_rail/ctn/ctn_04.pdf.
The other mill in the area, Macknade Mill, was built in the early 1870s and is the oldest sugar mill in the southern hemisphere. It still has the ability to produce 1.82 million tonnes of sugar.
Wallaman Falls is located 52 km west of Ingham. There are two lookout points - the Wallaman Falls Lookout and the Herbert River Valley Lookout and for those who wish to experience the falls close up there is the Diyinda Walk a zigzag path which goes down through tropical rainforest to the bottom of the falls.
The National Parks website explains: "About 50 million years ago, movement of the earth's crust formed the edge of the continent that lies against the Coral Sea and the formation of present day landforms began. An earlier Herbert River flowed towards the west. It is not known when it reached its present east-flowing course.
"Continuous erosion caused the Herbert River Falls to retreat by around 40 cm every 100 years. As the gorge became longer, tributaries like Stony Creek were left suspended. This created waterfalls, such as Wallaman, which in turn eroded their own gorges ... Platypus, eastern water dragons and saw-shelled turtles live in the Herbert River and its tributaries while the camping area is rich with birds such as crimson rosellas, golden whistlers and Lewin's honeyeaters. At night, the forest is alive with the sounds of frogs calling to mates and brushtail possums, sugar gliders, red-legged pademelons and bandicoots scurrying through the vegetation.
" Several of the region's vegetation types are represented in Girringun National Park. These include upland rainforest, mesophyll rainforest and tall open forest. The bird-attracting red flowers of the weeping bottlebrushes are a common sight along Stony Creek. Casuarinas, eucalypts and grasstrees colonise the nutrient poor soils around the rim of Wallaman Falls, while palms, umbrella trees and figs prefer the more fertile soils of the rainforest. The constant humidity in the gorge supports a dense rainforest and a rich mosaic of mosses, lichens and epiphytes."
There is a useful map which can be downloaded at https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/girringun-wallaman/pdf/wallaman-falls-map.pdf and general information about the falls can be accessed at https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/girringun-wallaman/about.htm.
Forrest Beach is a small seaside town on the Coral Sea just 19 km east from Ingham. It is popular during summer months. It has stinger-resistent nets in place and has an "away from it all" ambience. The waters are mostly calm being protected by both Orpheus and Palm Island which lie just offshore.
Herbert River Museum and Gallery
Located 19 km north east of Ingham on the road to Lucinda, the Herbert River Museum and Gallery is located at 4 Macrossan Street, Halifax. It focuses on the stories of the families and individuals who have been important to the development of the Hinchinbrook Region. The museum contains historical artefacts, photos and archives. It is open 9.00 am - 12.00 pm, Tuesday to Saturday. Check out https://www.hinchinbrookway.com.au/business-directory/tour/herbert-river-museum-and-gallery for more information.
Lucinda has a pleasant view across the Coral Sea from the parks along the shoreline. The main attraction is the remarkable bulk sugar loading facility. The jetty, at 5.76 km and supported by 660 concrete and steel pylons, is reputedly the world's longest and certainly the longest in the Southern Hemisphere. It is so long that on a hot day when there is a heat haze it can be difficult to see the end of the jetty. The sugar takes 22 minutes to travel along the jetty. Most of the sugar is shipped to either Canada or Malaysia. Apart from sugar, Lucinda is known as an angler's paradise with the waters offering good catches of mangrove jack, barramundi, grunter, Spanish mackerel, giant trevally, queenfish, bluefin tuna and black marlin.
* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was inhabited by the Girramay and Warakamai Aboriginal people.
* The area around Ingham was first explored by George Dalrymple in 1864.
* The first settlement occurred in 1865 when the Vale of Herbert Station was established by Henry Stone near Abergowrie.
* A telegraph line between Townsville and Cardwell passed through the area in 1869.
* A sugar plantation was establlshed in 1870 but it only lasted for a few seasons.
* In 1871 the Lower Herbert Post Office, later named Ingham Post Office, was opened.
* In 1872 the Gairloch Sugar Mill was built.
* In 1874 William Bairstow Ingham took up a 700 acre sugar plantation which was called Ings.
* In 1875 the settlement was named after William Ingham. This was the result of a petition by the local residents.
* In 1877 Ingham left the town and headed to Papua New Guinea where he was killed by the locals.
* The town of Ingham was surveyed in 1878.
* Allotments of land were offered for sale in 1879.
* By 1880 the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. had acquired interests in the Ingham area.
* The Victoria Mill north of Ingham had its first crushing in 1883.
* The first Italians arrived in Ingham in 1891 and they were followed by continuous immigration (much of it being relatives and friends) between 1900-1920.
* By 1903 the railway to Townsville had been surveyed.
* The railway finally arrived in the town in 1919. It connected Ingham to Townsville.
* The town was hit by a severe flood in 1927.
* In 1929 the Italian community started building their own hospital.
* By 1933 the town's population had reached 2,690.
* An Agricultural College was established at Abergowrie in 1934.
* By 1946 22.7% of Queensland's Italian population was living in the local shire.
* A modern Court House was built in 1948.
* The Herbert River reached a height of over 12 metres and flooded the town in 1971.
* The population of Ingham reached 5,868 in 1976.
* The Herbert River reached over 12 metres and flooded the town in 1986.
* The Herbert River reached a height of over 12 metres and flooded the town in 1991.
* The first Italian Australian Festival was held in Ingham in 1995.
* The Herbert River reached a height of over 12 metres and flooded the town in 2009.
* In 2011 Cyclone Yasi, a Category 5 cyclone, severely damaged Ingham.
* In 2013 the Ingham Cyclone Centre, capable of resisting winds of up to 300 km/hr, was officially opened.^ TOP
TYTO Information and Wetlands Centre, 73-75 McIlwraith Street, tel: (07) 4776 4614.^ TOP
The Hinchinbrook Way website is useful. Check out http://www.hinchinbrookway.com.au/destinations/ingham-0.^ TOP