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Mirani, QLD

Small rural town surrounded sugar cane plantations and sugar mills.

Mirani is a small sugar town which lies at the heart of the beautiful Pioneer Valley which is described, with some justification, as the "Showcase of North Queensland" because of the density of sugar cane in the Pioneer Valley. So dominant is the cane that it is commonplace to see walls of cane around the garden edges of house blocks. The shire has two sugar mills (at Pleystowe and Marian) and the tourist attractions include the beautiful Finch Hatton Gorge Falls and the cool rainforest beauty of Eungella National Park State Forest where it is common to see platypus and tortoises swimming in the river.


Located 37 km west of Mackay and 979 km north of Brisbane, Mirani is the main town in an area densely planted with sugar cane.


Origin of Name

The town was originally known as Hamilton. No one is sure what the word Mirani means or where it came from. It may be a local Aboriginal word of unknown meaning or it may be, as local folklore suggests, a combination of the names 'Mary' and 'Annie'.


Things to See and Do

Melba House
Built in 1882 by Charles Armstrong when he married Helen Porter Mitchell (who later changed her name to Nellie Melba) this house has been moved twice and now stands in the Edward Lloyd Park overlooking the Pioneer River. It contains memorabilia - photos, recordings, books and furniture - relating to Nellie Melba and is an accredited Visitor Information Centre. It is open from 9.00 am - 3.00 pm seven days a week. Tel: (07) 4954 4299. Check http://www.mackayregion.com/destinations/marian/attractions/melba-house for more details.

Mirani Museum
Located on Victoria Street behind the library, the Mirani Museum has a collection of artefacts relating to the history of the Pioneer Valley. It has an extensive photographic collection which includes early mills and cane growing, Marani Railway Station, a 'flying fox' over the Pioneer River near Mia Mia and cane transport. It also has displays about the sugar industry, a collection of indigenous artefacts and a large natural history section which includes the fossilised remains of a Diprotodon. Tel: (07) 4961 9229 or check out http://www.mackay.qld.gov.au/community/council_facilities2/historical_centres/pioneer_valley_museum. It open Tuesday to Thursday from 9.30 am - 2.30 pm.


Other Attractions in the Area

Eungella National Park
Located 50 km west of Mirani is Eungella National Park which has extensive walking paths and the proud boast that, for the quiet and careful bushwalker, there is a rare opportunity to see platypus in the wild. As you climb up the escarpment from the Pioneer Valley the views are dramatic, the forest is dense, and during the wet season clouds form dense mist. A delightful stopover on the way to Eungella is the historic Eungella Chalet which was built in 1934 and has excellent views across the Pioneer Valley as well as a restaurant and accommodation.

The walks in Eungella National Park include:
Pine Grove Circuit
This short circuit is only 1. 6 km and takes less than an hour. It is flat and passes through rainforest from the Pine Grove car park.

Pine Grove-Cedar Grove Track
Covering 2.8 km and taking between 60-90 minutes this walk through rainforest offers a panoramic view across the Pioneer Valley from an excellent lookout. The rainforest has towering red cedars and tulip oaks and the area is known for its strangler figs and livistona palms.

Sky Window
Located 2 km from Eungella township. There are three walking tracks. The Pine Grove-Cedar Grove Track; the Sky Window Circuit which is a short 250 metres track to the lookout; and the Clarke Range Track.

Broken River
Located 5 km from Eungella township this is the popular place for spotting platypus (best at dawn or dusk). It also has a pleasant picnic area. It can be accessed by bushwalkers on the Clarke Range Track (8.2 km one way) which passes Sky Window and passes through rainforest, cascades and creeks. At Broken River there is a Rainforest Discovery Circuit of 780 m (takes around 30 minutes) with tall trees covered with vines and epiphytes. It can be extended to a 1.6 km walk on the Granite Bend Circuit.

Crediton Creek Track
This is an 8 km one way (3 - 3.5 hours) moderately difficult walk to the Wishing Pool which passes along a rainforest gully and up the ridges to a pool which is surrounded by ferns.

Pease's Lookout
Pease's Lookout is 4.7 km north of Eungella on the Dalrymple Road. It offers panoramic views down the Pioneer Valley.

More information on all the walks is available in the excellent, downloadable brochure on the park - https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/pdf/mackay-highlands-vg.pdf.

Finch Hatton Gorge
Located 34 km north west of Mirani and 28 km east of Eugella township is Finch Hatton Gorge which is characterised by cascades, waterfalls and excellent bushwalking.

Araluen Cascades Trail
This is a 2.8 km return walk (it takes a little over 90 minutes) which requires a moderate level of fitness. The walk passes through rich tropical rainforest and large boulders to a lookout above the Araluen Cascades.

Wheel of Fire Track
This 4.2 km return track requires a moderate level of fitness. It extends beyond the Araluen Cascades Trail to include the Callistemon Crossing (which is weather dependent) and a large and beautiful rock pool. There is a map and detailed instructions at https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/pdf/mackay-highlands-vg.pdf.

Forest Flying
Dubbing itself "the ultimate rainforest experience", the Forest Flying eco-tourism experience involves flying over the rainforest on an overhead cable. This is known as a Flying Fox. The visitor travels 340 metres through the rainforest canopy at an elevation of 25 metres. The website explains: "There is no better way to see Mackay's pristine rainforest than with a flying fox tour! Forest Flying will have you gliding through the treetops serenely and safely. Our tours are a fantastic way for people of all ages to get up close and personal with the wonders of nature." The tours occur at 10.30 am and 1.00 pm daily - depending on the weather. For more information check out the website https://www.forestflying.com or tel: (07) 4958 3359.

Mirani in 1889
A description of the town is provided in the 1889 edition of Pugh's Almanack: "MIRINI (sic) - A township at the terminus of the Mackay and Hamilton Railway 23 miles from Mackay and situated on the south bank of the Pioneer River about 200 feet above sea-level. There's one hotel, also a boarding house and a butcher's shop. There are a number of settlers in the neighbourhood and the ground is very rich alluvial suited for the growing of sugar and other tropical produce. Scenery is beautiful and Mirani [they got it right this time] is a favourite resort of pleasure seekers from Mackay. There is a Post Office at the Hollow (the residence of Mr Rawson) a quarter of a mile from the township and another at Hamilton, a cattle station owned by Dalrymple and Murray across the river two miles away." It has changed little in the past 127 years.



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was home to the Yuwi Aboriginal people.

* In May,1860 first European explorer in the area, Captain John Mackay, reached the Pioneer River. He had travelled from Armidale in northern NSW.

* By 28 May, 1860 Mackay's party had started marking runs after drawing straws for the best lots.

* In 1861 Mackay brought cattle and horses overland from Armidale in New South Wales.

* By 1862 the tiny settlement of Mackay was established on the banks of the Pioneer River.

* In 1865 John Spiller planted the first sugar cane in the area. He had previously run a plantation in Java. He built his own small sugar mill.

* In 1866 sugar cane was planted on the southern bank of the Pioneer River.

* On 27 August 1872, 149 acres were reserved and gazetted as the Mirani townsite. In the early days it was known as Hamilton.

* David Mitchell arrived in Mackay in 1881. He was contracted to build the first sugar mill at Marian. Mitchell came with two daughters, Anne and Helen. Helen changed her name and became known as the great opera singer Dame Nellie Melba.

* In December 1882 Charles Nesbit Frederick Armstrong married Helen Porter Mitchell.

* In April 1883 the couple returned to Marian and Armstrong became the mill manager. In later years Armstrong blazed a trail up into the Great Dividing Range behind the sugar towns.

* In 1884 the township was surveyed

* In 1885 a railway line, connecting Mirani to Mackay, was completed. The railway station was built in the same year.

* By 1886 a school had been established.

* In 1889 Eungella was proclaimed a goldfield.

* By 1905 Mirani had two hotels.

* Mirani Shire was formed in 1913.

* A picture theatre was built in the town in the late 1940s.

* A local high school was opened in 1967.

* The Mirani Museum was opened in 1988.

* Sewerage was supplied to the town in 2006.


Visitor Information

The Mackay Visitor Information Centre, 320 Nebo Road, tel: 1300 130 001, Open 9.00 am - 5.00 pm has useful information. The local information centre is the Melba House Visitor Information Centre, 4-76 Anzac Ave, Marian, tel: (07) 4954 4299.


Useful Websites

The University of Queensland website - http://queenslandplaces.com.au/mirani - has useful information on the town's history. There is a useful local website - http://www.mackayregion.com/marian.

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