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Gordonvale mill and mountain.jpg
Mulgrave Central Mill and mountains
Population: 4,420 [1]
Postcode: 4865
Location: 23 km (14 mi) from Cairns
LGA: Cairns Region
State District: Mulgrave
Federal Division: Kennedy

Gordonvale is a small sugar-growing suburb situated in the southern end of Cairns on the Mulgrave River. At the 2006 census, Gordonvale had a population of 4,420.[1]

Once a separate town, urban sprawl has resulted in Gordonvale being subsumed into the suburban extremities of Cairns. Gordonvale was previously called Mulgrave and then Nelson. The name Gordonvale was settled on as a tribute to John Gordon, a pioneer in the district. Gordonvale lies approximately 23 km south of the Cairns central business district and is just east of the Gillies Range which leads to the Atherton Tableland. Gordonvale was located within the Shire of Mulgrave until its amalgamation with the City of Cairns in 1995. The City was subsequently merged into the larger Cairns Region in 2008.

Its most famous natural landmark is Walsh's Pyramid, which rises steeply to 922m.



The area was first settled in 1877 by the Alley and Blackwell families who cut a road through to Trinity Inlet so they could haul out cedar logs. By 1880, the road was well-used by miners and packers and they established the Riverstone Hotel to service the passing trade. After a while, a small town developed, encompassing three pubs, a store and a butcher shop run by John Gordon.

In the Cairns area, a Chinese businessman, Andrew Lee On built the first sugar mill in 1882, named Pioneer Mill, and established the Hop Wah Plantation on 612 acres (2.48 km2) of land. Other plantations and sugar mills were also established in the area in years following, and the region developed into a sugar cultivation and milling area.


Mulgrave Central Mill at dusk

Operating since 1896, the Mulgrave Central sugar mill is located near the town centre in Gordon St. The mill services about 300 sugarcane farms in the local region and operates during the 'crush' season (about six months of the year). When operating, the mill emanates a strong sugary smell downwind. Tours of the mill were previously available, but with the increase in global sugar prices, tours have been stopped as the focus is now on sugar production.

The Mulgrave Settlers Museum is across Gordon St from the mill. The museum has a number of historical items donated from the local community and displays that represent the early gold miners, cedar cutters, Chinese workers and packers (mule train suppliers to the Atherton Tableland). The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10AM to 2PM, however is closed from December to February.

Gordonvale Golf Club is located centrally in the town and has an 18 hole golf course. The course is unusual as nine holes are shared with a horse-racing track, with the other nine going through bushland to run up against the Bruce Highway.

The suburb is surrounded predominantly by sugarcane fields and is only a short drive from many interesting places including the Bellenden Ker National Park and Goldsborough Valley State Forest.

Cane Toads

Cane toads (Bufo marinus) were deliberately introduced into Australia in an attempt to control the native Frenchi beetle (Lepidiota frenchi) and the greyback beetle (Lepidoderma albohirtum) which were destroying sugar cane crops in North Queensland.

The Australian Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations imported 101 cane toads into Gordonvale from Hawaii in June 1935. By March 1937 some 62,000 toadlets had been bred and distributed into sugar cane fields up and down the Queensland coast. Unfortunately the toads were unsuccessful at controlling the cane beetles and began their invasion which continues today.

The spread of cane toads was slow at first but by 1959 they had colonised most of Queensland’s east coast. In 1964 they appeared in the Gulf of Carpentaria and by 1984 had reached the Queensland/Northern Territory border. In March 2001 the invasion front entered the wetlands of heritage-listed Kakadu National Park and the toads are now, in 2009, within reach of the Northern Territory/Western Australian border. They have also spread south into northern New South Wales, with one isolated community in Port Macquarie.


The Southern Herald is the local independent monthly suburban it covers local news, real estate, classifieds and more.


The Gordonvale Touch Association conducts Touch Football competitions on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights throughout the year. The competitions cater for Men, Women, Mixed and Juniors and is one of the largest sporting associations in Gordonvale.

There are also small martial art schools, two in particular. Choi Kwang Do and tae Kwang Do operate in the same hall (Gordonvale State Primary School) but on different nights. (Choi Kwang Do, Wednesdays and Fridays, whilst Tae Kwang Do operates on Tuesdays and Thursdays.)

For horse lovers, there is a Pony Club on Vico Street in Crystal Brook, a small collection of properties south of Gordonvale.


External links

Coordinates: 17°05′50″S 145°46′45″E / 17.09722°S 145.77917°E / -17.09722; 145.77917



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