Mission Beach seems to be a generic term used for the region that also includes 3 other very pretty beaches of Wongaling, Bingil Bay and South Mission Beach (fab views out to Dunk Island). Each place has a different mojo whether that be water sports, fishing, art galleries, music, drinking at a beachfront bar or eating good food!
On our first visit to the Shanti Cafe at Mission Beach Village we were in a hurry so grabbed a couple of toasted sandwiches.
Wow. A taste sensation – homemade ciabatta toasted till golden, with top quality ingredients.
So we had to go back as it had such an interesting breakfast and lunch menu. Ginny had mushrooms on ciabatta, Parmesan and fresh rocket, with truffle oil all the way from Manjimup in WA.
She didn’t lift her head from the plate once! Ian couldn’t go past a second bacon and egg toasted sandwich, and the coffee was good too. Great spot, especially as they have only been in business for 3-4 months.
There are many experimental tropical fruit crops being grown in this area so there is a huge variety available to try, but how do you know if they are ripe or past their best? And how to prepare them?
We found the tropical fruit safari ($9) run by the volunteer “Fruit Bat” ladies at the Visitor’s Centre at Mission Beach very helpful in answering these questions!
Some are very pretty but taste like lolly water, while others are ugly and/or smelly but yummy… our fav by far was the jackfruit.
We also came across the tiny town of El Arish with a big tavern and a huge RSL – all of which made sense when we realised that it was founded as a soldier settlement area in 1921. El Arish was an Egyptian town where the Australian Light Horse saw action in 1916, and the streets are named after WW1 officers including Ian’s hero General John Monash.
While partaking of refreshments at the tavern, we viewed some amazing pig hunting photos. Feral pigs are a BIG problem here, and this has spawned an ‘extreme hunting’ industry complete with 4 wheeler bikes, specially trained dogs and lots of guns and 4WDs.
Check out these guys stocking up prior to heading out for a few days hunting…
A complete contrast to the beaches is the Babinda Boulders, set in tropical jungle half way between Cairns and Innisfail. This area has an average rainfall of 4.6 metres during the wet season which falls on these beautiful boulders (whacking great pieces of granite that would look lovely on your kitchen bench) and it is easy to see why this is a very special place for local Aboriginal people. We applaud the infrastructure developed by Queenslanders to help tourists like us to access the history and culture of these regions.
Paronella Park was a special spot recommended to us by many people on our journey, and we enjoyed visiting this relic of history with our friends Jan and Jamie. We decided that this place is really a monument to ‘survival in a strange land’ as outlined in their promotions:
Everyone has a dream but not everyone’s dreams are fulfilled. José Paronella’s dream was to build a castle.
He chose a special part of Australia and created Paronella Park. On 5 Hectares beside Mena Creek Falls he built his castle, picnic area by the falls, tennis courts, bridges, a tunnel, and wrapped it up in an amazing range of 7,500 tropical plants and trees (now a lush rainforest!). It opened to the public in 1935. Paronella Park has received multiple Queensland tourism awards, is State and National Heritage listed and is a National Trust listed property. It is privately owned and operated and Eco accredited. Paronella Park is the site of Queensland’s 1st privately owned hydro electric plant.
Local people seem to have varied views on the current owners’ dedication to developing this park as opposed to buying and leasing other local tourist sites. Interesting. If you have been to Paronella Park, what did you think?