“What do you mean this is the wrong Geraldton? The charts show this is Geraldton – what am I supposed to do with all this cargo?”
In 1910, the town of Geraldton, in Queensland, changed its name to Innisfail – after a wayward cargo ship arrived carrying cargo for the port of Geraldton in Western Australia.
The town that became known as Innisfail had been there since the 1870s – the first Europeans were survivors of a shipwreck, who were found by a rescue party under the control of Robert Johnstone.
Of course, there were local people there long before – the Mamu had been there for centuries, but they were nomadic.
But after Johnstone wrote about the region in glowing terms, European settlement began at Innisfallen, a sugar plantation staffed by an Irish landowner, with some of his fellow countrymen as labourers, and Kanakas – indentured slaves – brought in from the South Seas Islands. .
The community which sprang up around the plantation was known as Geraldton from 1879 until that mishap with the cargo ship, when the original plantation name was adopted (and modified) and the town’s name became Innisfail.
One of the most visually outstanding features of Innisfail is the heritage-listed Water Tower, built in 1933 in the Art Deco style.
Despite being one of the wettest towns in Australia, Innisfail suffers from chronic water shortages over the winter months – hence the construction of the water tower.
Like much of the town, an Art Deco theme was chosen for the tower – advertising and a town clock were suggested, but the local council decided instead on a lookout (no longer in use)