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Proserpine, QLD

Sugar cane town promoted with the pun "sweet heart of the Whitsundays".

Proserpine is a sugar town and local service centre. Its raison d'etre is sugar and consequently all the narrow railway tracks in the district lead to the sugar crushing mill which lies to the north and looms over the town. It is a kind of "cinderella" town because, in the past 50 years, the area to the east - the Whitsundays - has boomed as a tourist destination while Proserpine survives on sugar and on the presence of its airport. There has been a conscious attempt to convert Proserpine from a sugar town into a potential place of interest for tourists with a handsome museum and visitor centre on the Bruce Highway at the entrance to the town. The Main Street has been upgraded. But, inevitably, Proserpine is distinguished by the endless fields of sugar which surround the town.

Location

Proserpine is located about 8 km from the mouth of Repulse Bay, 1080 km north-west of Brisbane and 12 m above sea level.

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Origin of Name

The accepted origin of the name is that in 1859 the explorer, George Dalrymple, was so impressed by the richness and fertility of the district that he named the entire area Proserpina, the Roman name for the Greek goddess of fertility, Persephone. It was a short step to Anglicising the word and producing Proserpine. Amusingly this is almost certainly apocryphal because Dalrymple never visited the area. The alternative explanation is that a local property was named Proserpine and the town takes its name from that property.

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Things to See and Do

Proserpine Historical Museum
Located at 192 Main St the museum is open from 9.30 am - 4.00 pm Monday to Friday. It has an interesting collection of historical memorabilia from the local area with an emphasis on the local sugar and cattle industries. Tel: (07) 4945 3969.

St Paul's Anglican Church
Located at 8 Main Street, St Paul's Anglican Church was placed on the Queensland Heritage Register in 2013. It was designed by Edwin Henry Oribin and built in 1958-1959. The church is made from brick, timber and concrete, and features a parabolic roof of laminated timber arches, glazed end walls with a central concrete cross, flat side roofs and separate brick tower. It was a direct result of Bishop Ian Shevill, Bishop of North Queensland, and his enthusiasm for modernist churches. There is a very detailed history of the church and its construction at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Paul's_Anglican_Church,_Proserpine.

Proserpine Town Walk
The current fashion for walking 10,000 steps a day has seen the enterprising Whitsunday Regional Council develop signs in the Main Street (outside the Proserpine Library) which indicate, on a map of the town, two walks: a Long Walk of 3500 m which will take 4,200 steps and a short walk of 1700 m which covers 2040 steps. They are for general healthiness rather than any attempt to admire the architecture of the town.

Whitsunday Crocodile Safari
Whitsunday Crocodile Safari is an excursion into the estuaries and wetlands of the Whitsundays. This unique tropical environment is home to many species of native and migratory birds, mammals, reptiles and marine animals, including approximately 150 estuarine crocodiles. Check out http://www.crocodilesafari.com.au for prices and details.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Peter Faust Dam (Lake Prosperine)
Located 26 km west of Proserpine, the Peter Faust Dam is famous for its excellent barramundi fishing. The dam can be fished all year round and is annually restocked with 20,000 barramundi fingerlings. For more information check out http://www.tourismwhitsundays.com.au/peter-faust-dam. There are good camping facilities beside the lake. It is also popular for water sports.

Cedar Creek Falls
Located about halfway between Airlie Beach and Proserpine on Saltwater Creek Road, Cedar Creek Falls are set in a beautiful and mountainous region on the edge of the Conway National Park. The falls tumble 12 metres through rainforest into a pool which is ideal for swimming. The falls are set in a natural rock amphitheatre. They are spectacular in the wet season and are surrounded by abundant flora and fauna including majestic white cedar trees, Alexandra Palms, wild orchids, colourful butterflies and many beautiful birds. The waterhole is an easy walk from the parking area and there are also bush walks up and around the falls for the more energetic. For more information check out http://www.queensland.com/en-au/attraction/cedar-creek-falls#spanel. There is a detailed map of the route from Airlie Beach at http://www.queensland.com/en-au/journey/airlie-beach-to-cedar-creek-falls.

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History

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

* The first European in the vicinity was Captain Cook who explored the Whitsunday Islands and named Repulse Bay.

* The explorer George Dalrymple reputedly passed through the area in 1859 on his way north.

* The region was first settled by Europeans in 1861 when  the Proserpine Creek pastoral run was established.

* The Glen Isla cattle run established a 3000 acre sugar plantation in 1882.

* The land around the town was subdivided in the 1890s.

* The Proserpine sugar mill was opened in 1897.

* By 1900 the mill was serving 70 independent sugar suppliers.

* By 1907 the town had three hotels.

* By 1910 the town was connected to Bowen port by a railway line.

* In 1923 Prosperine was connected by Brisbane by rail.

* The Proserpine Sugar mill became a co-operative in 1931 and is now recognised as one of the most modern sugar mills in the world.

* The town's hospital opened in 1940.

* In 1950 the Prosperine airport was built to cater for tourism to the Whitsundays.

* A state high school was opened in 1963.

* By 1994 16,000 acres of sugar had been planted around the town.

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Visitor Information

Whitsunday Regional Information Centre, 192 Bruce Highway, Proserpine, tel: (07) 4945 3967.

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Useful Websites

The town has its own dedicated website. Check out http://www.proserpine.com.

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