Cardwell to Cairns via Mission Beach and Etty Bay

About an hour after leaving Wallaman Falls, driving along roads that looked something like this…

On the road

On the roadI arrived at my final overnight stop off before picking up Mrs Bob and my daughter Elizabeth from Cairns airport.


Cardwell, with a population of just 1176 as at the 2011 census, was by some distance the smallest town I stayed the night in during my entire road trip. It is pretty much the halfway point between Townsville and Cairns.

Cardwell is by the sea.

cardwell beach cardwell beach

cardwell beachCardwell was also the only place I stayed in where I had sea views from my motel room door…

cardwell motelCardwell is a quiet place, and very relaxing. I can imagine people go there to retire, but I don’t think they go there to swim in the sea.

When I booked into my motel, I was strongly advised at the reception to ‘not go swimming’. At the same time the receptionist’s finger pointed to a photograph of a crocodile, which was Sellotaped to the desk in front of her, perhaps in case she forgot.

That was good enough for me; I didn’t fancy a dip anyway.

So, stay out of the sea in Cardwell and you’ll be safe, right?

Not quite, certainly not five years ago when Tropical Cyclone Yasi came to town. Yasi actually made landfall at Mission Beach, we’ll be going there next. Cardwell though, being just 40 kilometres or so south of Mission Beach, took quite a hit. There is no doubt that when you reach this part of Queensland you are very much in cyclone territory.

In most towns in this area, you will see signs like these…


cyclone-signBut, assuming you can avoid the crocodiles and dodge the cyclones, Cardwell really is a good place to chill out and retire…

beerMission Beach

mission-beach-signOne thing I’ve mentioned time and again on this road trip is how uncommercialised, rugged and almost deserted so many beaches are, but this wasn’t the case at Mission Beach. The beach itself was as you would expect…

mission beach mission beach

mission beachBut this place had buildings as well…

mission-beach-buildings mission-beach-buildings

mission-beach-buildingsAs you can see, compared to many of the other beaches we’ve been to, this place IS commercialised. Sadly, much of it was destroyed when Yasi made landfall here. According to Wikipedia there was a 7 metre surge which destroyed several structures along parts of this coastline.

Mission Beach appears to be back to normal now though.


Not far from Mission Beach, Tully also took a hit from Cyclone Yasi, but again, it’s looking good now.

tully tully tully tully

tullyI wanted to check out two more places on my way to Cairns, the first was Etty Bay.

Etty Bay

etty-bay etty-bay

etty-bay-crocsNo, I didn’t go swimming here either.

And then Innisfail.


Innisfail Innisfail Innisfail Innisfail

InnisfailHome of the Honourable Bob Katter MP…

bob-katterBack on the road…

cassowaryNext stop, Cairns, to pick up my girls. Before that though, if you’re interested, What It’s Really like to Live in Cardwell, Far North Queensland?

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