With lush, ancient rainforest on one side, and the world’s largest coral reef on the other, Mission Beach and the Cassowary Coast boast a spectacular hidden world. Donning some of the region’s best accessible adventures, there’s more than one way to explore this off-the-beaten-track slice of paradise.
A trip to the Cassowary Coast region can feel like a glimpse back in time. Boasting some of the earth’s most ancient creatures and landscapes, folk flock to this far-flung region for its laid-back tropical mood and the friendliness of its locals. While the earth here is rugged, there’s still a myriad of accessible ways to explore the gems of this World Heritage-listed region.
Dive into local Indigenous culture
The rich rainforest between Innisfail and Mission Beach is home to the local Mamu people, whose culture is celebrated within the Mamu Tropical Skywalk. Featuring a 350 metre-long elevated walkway nestled high above the rainforest canopy, enjoy meandering through the unspoilt paradise of the beloved Wooroonooran National Park. Featuring comfortable and safe walkways that are wheelchair accessible, the Mamu Tropical Skywalk also caters for visually-impaired travellers with Braille and an interactive app with an audio tour.
Passing through the largest-remaining continuous area of complex vine forest, enjoy panoramic views as you discover the charm of the far north’s birdsong while getting cosy with the rich array of tropical plants and insects. Keep your eyes peeled for the red-legged pademelon or the over 150 species of native birds while discovering the rich heritage of the Mamu people and their wondrous land.
Accessibility level: fully accessible for those with varying mobility issues, including wheelchair use
Meander through the Mission Beach markets
While the villages are renowned for their peaceful lull, the Mission Beach markets lure locals out to play. Held three weekends a month in the heart of Mission Beach, the markets draw in a crowd seeking sun, sand and local provisions like the award-winning Mad Baker Sourdough.
Set up under the cool tropical canopy of Ulysses Park, visitors soak up a wide array of stalls and services, from locally-grown produce to Cuban-inspired wood crafts, unique handmade clothing, tropical pot plants and a feast of freshly-made food and snacks.
The park is flat and accessible, making it a wonderful weekend activity to soak up the Mission Beach mood for travellers of all levels of mobility.
Accessibility level: the market itself is wheelchair accessible, however some stalls may not be completely accessible
Enjoy the view at Castaways
If there’s one view in Mission Beach that will blow you away, it’s perched at the lavish beach-front resort of Castaways. Located a one kilometre stroll or drive from the main happenings of the village hub, this island–peppered vista is best enjoyed with one of their signature cocktails in hand.
Feeling fancy? You might even like to pull up a pillow for the night in one of their access-friendly rooms. With two specifically-designed wheelchair-friendly rooms in the resort, choose between a one-bedroom spa apartment with an accessible bathroom and kitchenette, or their ground-level beachfront room that boasts disabled parking spots, a concrete ramp and an access-friendly shower.
Accessibility level: the restaurant, bar and the accommodation options mentioned above are fully accessible
BBQ at Alligators Nest
While many swimming holes in the far north are wildly inaccessible, the good news is that Tully boasts a pristine space with wheelchair accessibility. While a dip in the emerald pools of Alligators Nest may be a little tricky for some, the sprawling day use area is the perfect place to spend a lazy day in the tropics. Featuring barbecues, picnic tables and endless green grass, the amenities are also wheelchair-friendly.
For those with varying mobility issues, it’s also worth noting that this swimming hole is one of the most easily accessed in the area – so forget the slippery rocks and large patches of leaf litter!
Accessibility level: the day use and BBQ area are generally accessible depending on the weather. There is a ramp leading down from the carpark area to the day use area, however the area may not be wheelchair accessible if the ground is rugged from heavy rain. It’s also important to note that the swimming hole itself is not generally accessible
Spot an illusive cassowary
Visitors from all walks of life travel to the Cassowary Coast on a mission to spot the mystical ancient cassowary. Notoriously known for hiding from tourists, cassowary spotting often requires a game plan, a little bit of patience and a whole lot of luck. Etty Bay, the El Arish range and the humble roads around Mission Beach are some of the best places to spot the region’s colourful icon. Your best bet is to tread lightly and keep your eyes peeled in the early morning and dusk.
Keen to learn more about the cassowary and up your chances of spotting one? Head to C4 in Mission Beach, which acts as a conservation and information hub for the endangered species. The hub is wheelchair accessible and delivers information in a range of accessible formats.
Accessibility level: C4 is fully wheelchair accessible
Cast a line
Do as the locals do and catch your own dinner! Boasting a handful of highly-accessible jetties that can be accessed via ramp or road, Mission Beach’s close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef makes it the perfect spot to lap up the thrill of casting a line. Our picks are the Perry Harvey Jetty on Narragon Beach and the Clump Point Boat Ramp.
Accessibility level: the two jetties mentioned are completely accessible for all mobility levels including wheelchairs
Tropical wine and dine
If you like the idea of a no-frills wine tasting set amongst the vibrant cane paddocks of Silkwood east, you’ll love Murdering Point Winery. Completely accessible for travellers with all types of mobility needs, the winery boasts an eclectic range of red and white fruit wines, ports, liqueurs and creams.
Uniquely using local exotic tropical fruits like Davidson Plum, banana, passionfruit, jaboticaba and black sapote, the Berryman family are known to whip up wines that you won’t see anywhere else. A special mention goes to The Point Port, which is a delicately-blended and ultra-sweet port made purely from local black mulberries, citrus and plums.
Accessibility level: the winery itself is completely accessible for all mobility levels including wheelchairs
Wander the art-deco world
While most travellers pass by the township of Innisfail without a second thought, history buffs may want to stop by for a little longer. Home to a jaw-dropping display of historical Art Deco buildings, the town’s Art Deco and Historical Self-Guided walk transports travellers back to the roaring 1920s when farmland was being cleared left, right and centre.
The self-guided tour can be kicked off by calling into the local museum and picking up a booklet of the best Art Deco sites to see. For those who are drawn to digital, the Cassowary Coast Art Deco and Historical Self-Guided Walk is an app you don’t want to miss.
With the Innisfail township boasting an array of ramps and well-maintained footpaths, this is a great experience for those with a varying range of accessibility needs.
Accessibility level: the Innisfail township in itself is wheelchair accessible, but please note that some areas are steep and hilly
Spot a croc
If spotting a dinosaur is on your bucket list, you won’t want to miss this cruise along the winding banks of the Johnstone River. Completely wheelchair accessible, Snapping Tours’ 2-hour cruise gives punters an insight into the unique biodiversity of the tropical north, all while learning about the region’s rich history.
As you meander through croc–country, keep your eyes peeled for the mighty saltwater crocodile, best spotted in the middle of winter on the banks in the bright sun. Though the tour guides boast a keen eye for spotting them lurking beneath the murky waters, they’re not always in plain sight. But don’t just try to smile at a crocodile – the Johnstone River is renowned for being home to an amazing array of fish and turtles, as well as its vibrant display of birdlife.
Accessibility level: the cruise itself is completely wheelchair accessible
Brought to you by Queensland.com, this podcast explores the world of accessible travel. Julie Jones, founder of Travel Without Limits, Australia’s inaugural accessibility-focused travel magazine, recounts her family’s travel journey in Tropical North Queensland in this episode, addressing the distinct challenges of having a child with cerebral palsy, Braeden.
Explore numerous other episodes covering a variety of topics and locations.