Travel Tuesday – How Tully made the most of adversity

There’s an old Scottish proverb which (in modern terms) says “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

But there’s also a 20th-century American aphorism that says, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

Tully, in Far North Queensland, is a great example of thumbing your nose at the former and grasping the latter with both hands.

Tully is a small town which exists mainly to service the local sugar mill – and its main claim to fame is as Australia’s wettest town.

Well, sort of.

Babinda (80km further north) regularly averages more rain each year – 3.5 metres of rain compared to 2.8 metres.

But Tully has the record for the most rain in a single year (7.9 metres of rain in 1950) and so it claims a dubious honour – and has erected a giant gumboot to celebrate the fact.

Now, there are few locations that would say to tourists “Come and stay here – we almost guarantee it will rain” … but Far North Queensland is a curious place 🙂

To be honest, most tourists who travel to Far North Queensland stay in the city of Cairns, or further north in the tourist mecca of Port Douglas.

But there’s also some overflow into what is known as the ‘Cassowary Coast’, which effectively stretches from Babinda in the north to Lucinda in the south.

All the towns along that 200km stretch of the Bruce Highway use whatever attractions they can muster to tempt those travellers who have struck out from Cairns on day-trips – or seek somewhere different to stay.

Euramo, for example, trades on claims of UFO sightings and crop circles dating back to 1966.

El Arish is proud of its origin as a ‘soldier settlement’ – a place where returned diggers from World War One were granted plots of land to farm, a gift from a grateful nation.

Babinda is home to Josephine Falls, and to The Boulders – a popular swimming spot despite claiming 15 lives in the past 60 years (I did say that Far North Queensland is a curious place!)

Innisfail is a town with a multitude of Art Deco buildings (all built in the wake of a devastating cyclone)

And then there’s Tully’s Golden Gumboot – a nine metre tall ‘big thing’ of the sort Australia seems to love so much.

Visitors may climb a spiral staircase inside the gumboot – reading newspaper articles, cartoons, photographs and displays which wallpaper the inside.

And when they reach the top and look out, it is possible to visualise just how much rain fell in that record year: 7,898 mm (or 310 inches in the old measurement).

So, who would make a special trip to see a Golden Gumboot?

Well, the last time we were in Tully we were only there for about an hour – but during that hour, there were at least 5 groups of people who called in to check it out.

And every one of those groups had made a conscious decision to do so, rather than just stopping at the highway service centres at the entrance to the town.

How’s that for making lemonade from lemons?

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