Mareeba

Atherton Tablelands North Queensland

The Mareeba Multicultural Festival celebrates the diverse origins of Mareeba's residents
Mareeba Multicultural Festival celebrates the diverse origins of Mareeba's residents.

Introduction

Mareeba is located at the junction of Granite Creek, Emerald Creek, and the Barron River, and is named for the local aboriginal word meaning 'meeting of the waters'. It is the administrative centre of Mareeba Shire, one of the largest local administration areas in Australia, covering 53,610.8 square kilometres of tropical North Queensland.

Located 63 kilometers west of Cairns, today Mareeba is a center of agricultural production and produces a wide range of tropical crops including Mango, Lychee, Tea Tree oil, pineapple, avocado, banana, coffee, and many other crops.

Tourist Attractions

Hot Air Ballooning and Aviation

In recent years aviation experiences have been growing in popularity. Mareeba is a popular hot air ballooning area and boasts the largest fleet of hot air balloons in Australia. The balloons take off at dawn (weather permitting) and make a magnificent sight as they float over the tablelands. There are several operators with different packages that include 30 minute, 60 minutes and champagne breakfast flights. Visitors can also enjoy ultralight flights or flying in a restored WWII plane, one of many restored WWII aircraft that can be seen at the Warbird Museum at the Mareeba airfield.

Birds and Wildlife

Mareeba is a popular birdwatching destination, with the Mareeba Tropical Savannah and Wetland Reserve providing a haven for water birds such as the brolga and Sarus Crane, as well as wildlife. A combined cruise and safari is available, and it is a popular place to watch the sunset over the water. Mareeba Shire is considered to have the most diverse birdlife in Australia, with almost half of all Australian bird species recorded there.

Granite Gorge Nature Park is a place where you can feed and interact with Australian wallabies. Nearby to the Emerald Falls National Park, the nature park offers camping facilities.

Coffee, Wine, and Food

The coffee industry has grown a lot over the last decade and there are many opportunities for tours and tastings. Coffee-oriented tourist attractions include Jaques Coffee Plantation, Coffee Works, North Queensland Gold Coffee Plantation, and Skybury Coffee Plantation.

Mt. Uncle Distillery is located in a banana plantation and produces a range of spirits and liquers and has a licensed cafe on-site. Golden Drop Winery specialises in mango wines, including sparkling, and fortified varieties.

Adrenaline Pumping Sports

The MakoTrac International Racetrack is one of the most highly-regarded go-kart race tracks in Australia, and offers go-kart racing experiences from beginner to professional level. Drivers can progress from slower karts up to faster classes according to their ability to finish the course within stipulated lap-times. There are two tracks on site and also mini-golf, picnic and barbecue facilities.

Thirteen kilometers out of Mareeba, between Mareeba and Kuranda/Cairns is the Davies Creek Mountain Bike Park, offering trails for beginner to highly-skilled mountain bike enthusiasts. Trail bikes, off-road vehicles, and horses are not allowed on the trails, but hiking is permitted. Using these trails it is possible to ride from the tablelands down to Cairns, which is also stage two of the annual Crocodile Trophy: one of the most challenging mountain bike races in the world.

Museums

The Mareeba Heritage Museum & Information Center is the best first stop when you arrive in Mareeba. With dispays about the history of the area, a souvenir store, and local snacks, the information center is staffed by helpful volunteers and is stocked with free maps, brochures, and helpful local advice.

Warbirds Adventures Aviation Museum at Mareeba Airfield has World War II airplanes fully restored and flying, and others under restoration. The planes are not just on show, but are available for exhilerating joy flights.

The Beck Museum, just outside of Mareeba on the road to Atherton hosts a collection of World War 2 equipment including guns, tanks, aircraft, vehicles and other equipment. The military museum provides a fascinating insight into the Tableland's role in World War II and is housed in an original World War 2 building constructed as part of 'Project Atherton' during World War Two.

Festivals and Events

Annual events include the annual Mareeba Multicultural Festival, Walkamin Country Music Festival, The Great Wheelbarrow Race and Mareeba Rodeo.

Entertainment

Mareeba is one of the few towns in Australia that still has a drive-in movie theatre with Mareeba Drive in Theatre playing movies on Friday and Saturday nights.

There are pubs and clubs in town offering a range of entertainment from sports on the big screen to live music, poker machines, and bingo. Visit the Mareeba Leagues club or Mareeba RSL. Mareeba has three hotels(Pubs), The Anthill Hotel, The Graham Hotel, and The Peninsular Hotel.

History

Mareeba is the traditional home of the Muluridji people. European settlement began with the arrival of John Atherton, who established his station 'Emerald End' close to where Mareeba stands today. The nascent township began as a coach stop after tin was discovered at Herberton and a road was pushed through from Port Douglas.

In the 1920s and 1930s tobacco became a very successful crop in the area and more agricultural land was opened for development. An increasing demand for irrigation, coupled with the desire to produce more hydroelectricity from the Barron Gorge power station led to the construction of Tinaroo Dam which was completed in 1958.

Mareeba hosts one of the most multiculturally diverse populations in Australia with 64 nationalities and ethnic groups represented. More than 12 percent of people speak a language other than English at home, the largest non-English language group being Italian.

Mareeba in Film and Video

Home video footage made by an American soldier around Mareeba 1942-1943.
General Douglas MacArthur lands in Mareeba in July 1943 to make a tour of forces on the Atherton Tablelands. Source: Australian War Memorial.

map of Cairns, Atherton Tablelands and Tropical Outback
Click to enlarge