|Population||815 (2016 census)|
|• Density||59.93/km2 (155.2/sq mi)|
|Elevation||10 m (33 ft)|
|Area||13.6 km2 (5.3 sq mi)|
|Time zone||AEST (UTC+10:00)|
|LGA(s)||Cassowary Coast Region|
The region has been inhabited for at least the past 5,000 years by a rainforest dwelling people collectively known as the Djiru people. Remains of middens, fish traps, rock-shelter paintings and ceremonial sites are located around Mission Beach and Dunk Island. Djiru people made large wooden swords and built wet-season villages consisting of dome-shaped huts thatched with palm fronds and paperbark.
Lieutenant James Cook sailed through the area in 1770, naming Dunk Island. Clump Point was descriptively named in 1848 by Captain Owen Stanley of the Royal Navy survey ship HMS Rattlesnake. On board was the Cape York Peninsula exploration party led by Edmund Kennedy which was landed to the south of the region to begin their ill-fated overland journey. After the disembarkation of Kennedy's group, Captain Stanley anchored off Dunk Island and he and his crew remained in the vicinity for ten days. They traded with the local Djiru people until a crew member shot at them after being prevented from entering a nearby village.
The shipwreck of the Maria
On 26 February 1872, the brig Maria carrying 75 people of a gold prospecting expedition to New Guinea was wrecked upon Bramble Reef. The survivors escaped the sinking ship on 3 boats and 2 rafts. Two of the boats made it safely to the nearest British settlement of Cardwell, but the other three craft were washed up on the shoreline at and around what is now Mission Beach. Up to ten of these crew members, including the captain, were found to have been murdered by Aboriginal people residing in this region. Lieutenant Sabben of the Royal Navy was sent to recover the captain's boat and find any survivors. Upon reaching the beached boat they were attacked by about 120 Aboriginal men. In resisting the attack, 8 native people were killed. Fearing further attacks, Magistrate Brinsley Sheridan, ordered Sub-Inspector Robert Arthur Johnstone of the Native Police "to inflict decisive punishment". Johnstone and his troopers were significantly aided by another Royal Navy officer in Captain John Moresby who provided additional armed marines and a large schooner. Moresby described how "several unfortunate blacks were shot down by the native troopers, who showed an unrestrained ferocity that disgusted our officers". A six-year-old boy was taken during this raid and sent to England by the "kind act" of Lieutenant Francis Hayter. The boy died there from pneumonia three years later.
Johnstone and his troopers, together with armed sailors and volunteer riflemen, scoured the coast from Cardwell north to Cooper Point, searching every Aboriginal camp they came across for any traces of the men. Newspapers reported that Johnstone's detachment of Native Police killed a total of 93 local Aboriginal people in the Maria reprisals. Accusations of Johnstone and others having "punished the innocent together with the guilty" and partaking in "slaughtering whole camps, not only of men, but of women and children" even reached the Permanent Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in London, Robert Herbert. The claims were dismissed by Lord Normanby, Governor of Queensland, on the grounds that the Aboriginal people of the north "are numerous, savage, treacherous, and very commonly cannibals".
Up until the late 1870s, the area was still considered too dangerous for British settlement and the Djiru were able to maintain their traditional livelihood in a landscape that had the "appearance of some wealthy nobleman's estate." Charles Freshney's logging company started to cut down the groves of cedar trees around Clump Point from 1880. They employed Aboriginal people for timber hauling, paying them with tobacco and tools.
The first white settlers to establish a landholding in the region were the Cutten brothers (Herbert, Leonard, James and Sidney), who took up their selections in 1886. They built a homestead which they called Bicton (now Bingil Bay), and farmed mangoes, bananas, pineapples, coffee, citrus fruit and coconuts. By 1890, the Cutten brothers were not able to support the remaining Djiru living on what was now their property. The Cuttens threatened to exterminate the Djiru and burnt down their main camp, but kept around 40 people to labour on their plantations. Initially these workers were indentured on government wages but by 1910 the Cuttens were accused of paying their remaining Djiru labourers with rum. The Cuttens starting selling out of the area in 1918 after a cyclone destroyed their plantations. After the Cutten brothers, the Unsworths settled at Narragon Beach, the Garners came and settled at Garners Beach, and the Porter brothers settled at what the locals refer to as Porter's Creek (also called Wongaling Creek) at the south end of North Mission Beach.
Hull River Aboriginal Settlement
In the early 20th century Chinese banana farmers used Aboriginal people as labourers in the Tully River region. Opium addiction and conflict with British settlers resulted in the Queensland government creating an Aboriginal internment centre, the Hull River Aboriginal Settlement, at the present South Mission Beach. John Martin Kenny was appointed superintendent in September 1914. There was no mission in the religious sense; the settlement had characteristics of a penal settlement. Forced removals from other regions swelled the population to around 500 by 1916. Many ran away and about 200 people died there in 1917 during an epidemic.
On 10 March 1918, a category 5 cyclone hit the Innisfail area, killing at least 100 people in the region. A storm surge in the Mission Beach area swept hundreds of metres inland leaving debris 7m up in some trees. This cyclone destroyed the Hull River Aboriginal Settlement, killing the superintendent Kenny, his daughter and other residents. The surviving residents were forcibly moved to a new settlement on Great Palm Island.
Development of the town
In the late 1920s after the construction of a road from El Arish, the area became a popular camping place. It was known as Mission Beach due to the mistaken belief that the Hull River Aboriginal Settlement previously located in the region was a religious mission. Mission Beach developed into a town during the 1940s and 50s with the Mission Beach Post Office opening on 15 December 1949.
On 20 March 2006, Cyclone Larry crossed the coast in between Mission Beach and Innisfail. In addition to structural damage to property, Cyclone Larry also had a tremendous impact on the rainforest and animals of the region. A shortage of rainforest fruit saw cassowaries seeking food in built up areas and, unfortunately, a number were hit and killed by cars.
On 3 February 2011, the eyewall of Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi crossed the coast near Mission Beach. Wind gusts estimated up to 310 km/h (190 mph), leaving behind significant damage. A storm surge estimated to have reached 0.7 m (2.3 ft) destroyed several structures along the coast and pushed up to 300 m (980 ft) inland. Most of the beach had lost its sand and all of the towns structures were damaged to some degree, with many houses completely destroyed. There were no reports of fatalities or injuries in Mission Beach.
In 2019, Mayfair 101, an Australian-based investment consortium, bought 200 properties in Mission Beach as well as nearby Dunk Island with the view to transform the area into a "tourism mecca". By August 2020, Dunk Island had been repossessed by the former owners, and investigations by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission led to the freezing of assets of 14 property trusts Mayfair 101 had used to buy land in and around Mission Beach.
The Mission Beach area also supports a sizeable agricultural industry, particularly the cultivation of sugar and bananas.
There are no schools in Mission Beach. The nearest government primary school is Mission Beach State School in Webb Road, Wongaling Beach. The nearest government secondary school is Tully State High School in Tully to the south-west.
Mission Beach Uniting Church is at 2224 Tully Mission Beach Road (). It is part of the Cassowary Coast Uniting Church.
In September, Mission Beach hosts the annual Cassowary Festival. This festival was created to promote the unique wildlife of the region and to celebrate the community through music, activities and education. The town also formerly celebrated the annual aquatic festival, it has since been discontinued since 2017.
The beach is flanked by green mountains rising just a short distance inland, and provides views out to the Family Islands. Close to shore at Mission Beach lies a shallow reef; during very low tides portions of this reef are exposed. The reef runs from the mouth of Porter's Creek at the south end of North Mission Beach almost to Clump Point, and is a popular fishing spot.
Surrounded by World Heritage rainforest on one side and the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef on the other, Mission Beach is home to many wildlife species, most notable is the cassowary. This large flightless bird can be found in the rainforest surrounding the area but appears to be thriving in spite of land clearing, traffic and predators such as wild dogs and feral pigs. Much of the area is part of the Coastal Wet Tropics Important Bird Area, identified as such by BirdLife International because of its importance for the conservation of lowland tropical rainforest birds.
In popular culture
- In Episode 7, Season One of The Real Housewives of Melbourne, the Housewives stayed at a five-star resort in Mission Beach.
- Series 2 and 3 of Escape from Scorpion Island was filmed at Mission Beach.
- The Australian television series Sea Patrol has filmed five of its series in the waters off the Mission Beach area.
- The 2022 Netflix series Irreverent was filmed in and around Mission Beach and its church.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Mission Beach (SSC)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
- "Mission Beach – town in Cassowary Coast Region (entry 22309)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 6 March 2022.
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- "Queensland Globe". State of Queensland. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
- "Clump Point – point in the Cassowary Coast Region (entry 7511)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
- Pentecost, Philip. "Indigenous Cultural Significance Assessment Mission Beach" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 January 2022. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
- MacGillivray, John (1852). Narrative of the voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, commanded by the late Captain Owen Stanley during the years 1846-50. London: T.W.Boone.
- Moresby, John (1876). Discoveries and Surveys in New Guinea and the D'Entrecasteaux Islands. London: John Murray.
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- "The Revenue". The Queenslander. Vol. VII, no. 323. Queensland, Australia. 13 April 1872. p. 4. Archived from the original on 14 March 2022. Retrieved 19 August 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
- Poignant, Roslyn (2004). Professional Savages. New Haven: Yale. ISBN 9780300102475.
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- "In memoriam". Johnstone River Advocate And Innisfail News. Vol. XXVI, no. 33. Queensland, Australia. 25 February 1930. p. 4. Archived from the original on 14 March 2022. Retrieved 28 August 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
- "The Northern Blacks". The Capricornian. Vol. 16, no. 2. Queensland, Australia. 11 January 1890. p. 27. Archived from the original on 14 March 2022. Retrieved 22 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
- "A fruit farm in Queensland". The North Queensland Register. Vol. IX, no. 49. Queensland, Australia. 13 November 1899. p. 15. Archived from the original on 14 March 2022. Retrieved 22 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Treatment of Blacks". The Worker. Vol. 19, no. 43. New South Wales, Australia. 27 October 1910. p. 15. Retrieved 22 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Cutten brothers' graves". Queensland heritage explorer. Archived from the original on 24 March 2019. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
- "The Clump Point Road". Johnstone River Advocate And Innisfail News. Vol. 28, no. 55. Queensland, Australia. 13 July 1934. p. 6. Archived from the original on 14 March 2022. Retrieved 22 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Hull River Mission: Impressions of a Visitor". Cairns Post. Vol. XXVIII, no. 2282. 16 August 1915. p. 8. Archived from the original on 14 March 2022. Retrieved 28 August 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
- Caddy, Amelia (23 February 2016). "Australia's most destructive cyclones: a timeline". Australian Geographic. Archived from the original on 11 November 2020. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
- "Care of Aborigines". The Telegraph (Brisbane). No. 14, 294 (Second Edition). Queensland, Australia. 17 September 1918. p. 9. Retrieved 28 August 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Clump Point". Cairns Post. Vol. 8182. Queensland, Australia. 13 April 1928. p. 2. Archived from the original on 14 March 2022. Retrieved 22 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Tully Notes". Townsville Daily Bulletin. Vol. XLVIII, no. 141. Queensland, Australia. 13 December 1926. p. 11. Archived from the original on 14 March 2022. Retrieved 22 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
- Phoenix Auctions History. "Post Office List". Phoenix Auctions. Archived from the original on 14 March 2022. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
- Queensland Family History Society (2010), Queensland schools past and present (Version 1.01 ed.), Queensland Family History Society, ISBN 978-1-921171-26-0
- "Opening and closing dates of Queensland Schools". Queensland Government. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
- "Our school". Mission Beach State School. 10 February 2020. Archived from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
- "Facilities". Mission Beach State School. 10 February 2020. Archived from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
- Australian Associated Press (2 February 2011). "Yasi unleashing fury on Qld coast". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 2 February 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
- Peter Michael (3 February 2011). "Morning heralds the big clean-up". Herald Sun. Archived from the original on 16 March 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2011.
- Petrina Berry (3 February 2011). "Damage extensive in Mission Beach". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australian Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2 February 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2011.
- Hartley, Anna (22 September 2019). "Far North Queensland's Dunk Island set for multi-million-dollar makeover". ABC News. Archived from the original on 27 September 2019. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
- Butler, Ben (19 August 2020). "Dunk Island repossessed in blow to Mayfair 101's billion-dollar Mission Beach redevelopment". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 22 August 2020. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
- "Mission Beach State School". Mission Beach State School. Archived from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
- "Cassowary Coast Uniting Church". Archived from the original on 5 March 2022. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
- "Cassowary Festival". Mission Beach Tourism. Archived from the original on 20 September 2020. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
- "Cairns Events - Event Details - Mission Beach Aquatic Festival". Archived from the original on 24 July 2021. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
- BirdLife International. (2011). Important Bird Areas factsheet: Coastal Wet Tropics. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org Archived 10 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine on 16 December 2011.
- "Cairns region battles to save TV drama". The Cairns Post. 28 October 2010. Archived from the original on 14 March 2022. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
- Mackness, Constance; Mission Beach - Bingil Bay Progress Association (1983), Clump Point and district : an historical record of Tom O'Shanter, South Mission Beach, Mission Beach, Bingil Bay, Garner's Beach and Kurrimine, G.K. Bolton, ISBN 978-0-9591796-0-6
- Pedley, Helen. "A Brief History of Mission Beach".
- Mission Beach History Archived website by Helen Pedley.
- University of Queensland: Queensland Places: Mission Beach