Welcome to the Northern Tablelands, where coastal rainforests are replaced by vast, sunburnt, savannah plains dotted with wetlands and abundant wildlife.
You may spot large Eastern Grey Kangaroos lazing under shady trees to escape the hot midday sun, or stately Black-necked Storks striding through shallow waterways on the lookout for unsuspecting prey. Listen out for the iconic sound of black cockatoos flying overhead! Visitors to the area could be excused for thinking they had travelled a lot more than the 60km and 400m in altitude from the coast.
The area is known as one of the richest regions for birdlife in Australia, with the Mareeba Wetlands being home to over 200 different species of birds. The endangered and exquisite Gouldian Finch, often referred to as the ‘jewel of the outback’, has a captive breeding site at the Wetlands. This program aims to once again have successful wild populations of this tiny bird.
The heart of Queensland’s thriving tropical fruit and coffee production, the Northern Tablelands’ clear, blue skies, regular wet season rainfall and fertile soils provide an abundance of exotic produce. Locals boast of the perfect climate, with over 300 sunny days a year and lower humidity and cooler evenings compared to coastal regions.
The completion of Tinaroo Dam in the 1950s, further upstream on the Barron River, allowed for significant agricultural development in the area. An irrigation channel from the dam provides a consistent supply of water to farms in this Local Landscape, where crops as varied as tobacco, rice, sugar, mangoes and pineapples have all been grown over the years. Extensive cattle grazing properties spread over country further from the life-giving irrigation channels.
Communities and Culture
This Local Landscape is indeed a land shaped by the courageous deeds and resilient spirit of early settlers, who were attracted to the area by the promise of riches from mining and timber. These days, the relaxed, tropical lifestyle and community-minded spirit conceals the struggle early settlers faced for survival.
With a rich and colourful history, from the original Aboriginal inhabitants, the early settlers and the later arrival of many central and southern European immigrants, the area is a cultural melting pot. Traditional Italian delicatessens provide a taste from the home country for the many immigrants, while an annual multicultural festival celebrates the diversity of nationalities which now call this Local Landscape home.
Shire of Diversity
Known as the “Shire of Diversity”, Mareeba is a gateway to both Cape York Peninsula and the Gulf of Carpentaria, with major roads to both locations starting here. Grey Nomads from across Australia are attracted by all the region has to offer, and descend in huge numbers during the cooler winter months to explore the towns and further afield.
Aboriginal Cultural Heritage
Across the whole of the Wet Tropics, there remains a rich and enduring Aboriginal cultural heritage, comprising 20 Traditional Owner Tribal groupings with over 100 clans. Click on the
link for more information.