Cardwell is the oldest white settlement in Queensland’s far north, the first landing party having sailed from Port Denison (Bowen) and raised the Union Jack on the mainland beach of Rockingham Bay on Friday, January 22, 1864.
Located between Australia’s Great Dividing Range and the mountainous splendour of Hinchinbrook Island, Cardwell is a seaside town caressed by natural beauty that has inspired and soothed the souls of countless generations.
Within this exquisite embrace by nature in surrounding valleys and hills, are native flame trees: a vivid symbol of an unbroken link with an ancient era when Aboriginal people were the ancestral occupiers of these abundant tropical lands.
The flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) was the emblem of the historic Cardwell Shire Council that commenced in 1884 and was housed in the building pictured above, that also became Cardwell’s J. C. Hubinger Museum and home to our Historical Society until it was harmed by cyclone Yasi in February 2011.
The flame tree, venerated by Aboriginal people of our region to this day, has travelled with Cardwell throughout its history, is a treasured emblem of the Cardwell and District Historical Society and a feature on our Society’s formal seal.
In 2007, San Franciscan artists sponsored by the nine tribal groups of Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, sculptured an eight metre high copper flame tree erected near the jetty on Cardwell’s foreshore, a monument also broken by cyclone Yasi.
This modern sculpture depicting our native vegetation and our land’s ancient culture needs to be restored in full, with its flowing water and sprouting fire, as a steadfast symbol forever enlightening the human spirit.
Cardwell is a tropical coastal town in northeastern Queensland. It is located at the southern extremity of the Cassowary Coast. At the 2006 census, Cardwell had a population of 1,250. The Bruce Highway National Highway 1 and the North Coast railway lineare the dominant transport routes; connecting with the Queensland provincial cities of Cairns and Townsville. Cardwell suffered significant damage from Cyclone Yasi, a category 5 cyclone, in February 2011.
Cardwell is situated on the Bruce Highway half way between Townsville and Cairns in the heart of the world renowned Great Green Way. Cardwell offers magnificent views of the Coral Sea and the world famous Hinchinbrook Island (Australia’s largest island National Park).
It is the centre of a vast natural wonderland, including waterfalls, swimming holes, wilderness walking trails, mountain views and uniquely lodged between two world heritage listed areas – Wet Tropics and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Areas. Spectacular landscapes and seascapes of pristine wilderness areas offer visitors an array of activities that are sure to delight.
A boating mecca for cruising, sailing and fishing, the Hinchinbrook Channel and surrounding Coral Sea are a sports fisher’s dream. A public all weather, all tidal boat ramp with landing pontoon provides easy access to the surrounding islands and waterways.
A renowned getaway for self drive and short break visitors, Cardwell offers a variety of accommodation, charters and tours.
Cardwell is the gateway to both Hinchinbrook Island and the Cassowary Coast Region with the best boating, fishing and wilderness experiences along the North Queensland coast.