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13 August, 2021

Community Connect: Discover the Art Deco beauty of the Cassowary Coast

THE Cassowary Coast is home to many splendid examples of art deco architecture and construction.

In 1879 Thomas Henry Fitzgerald arrived in the region to establish a sugar industry in the lush and very fertile land surrounding present day Innisfail.

The first house built in the present site of Innisfail was called Innisfallen, after the largest island in the Lakes of Killarney, Ireland.

Inis Fail (Island of Destiny) is an early name for Ireland itself. In 1879, the settlement was named Geraldton, (after Fitzgerald) but was retitled ‘Innisfail’ in 1910 to avoid confusion with the Western Australian town of the same name. The Art Deco designed architecture of Innisfail can be credited to a devastating cyclone that wiped out the region in 1918.

Many buildings made out of timber and corrugated iron were destroyed or damaged extensively, and the two buildings that remained in the Innisfail CBD were built from reinforced concrete. As the town was rebuilt, it was decided that it would be necessary to cyclone-proof Innisfail, and with Art Deco being the internationally popular style of the time – Tropical Art Deco was born.

Throughout the Innisfail CBD you will discover Art deco facades inspired by Italian, French, Spanish, Moroccan and Anglo-Saxon architecture.

These global influences are homage to the diverse and multicultural past of the Cassowary Coast region. Innisfail is rapidly becoming recognised as one of Australia’s great Art Deco towns, with the CBD showcasing one of the largest concentrations of Art Deco buildings in the country.

Due to the climate of Far North Queensland, the traditional Art Deco architecture style was adapted to include wide awnings and peaked roofs to provide relief from heavy rains.

This means that the beautiful buildings are distinctive and are rarely seen anywhere else in the world. Innisfail is one hours’ drive from Cairns and well worth the visit. If you visit, download the Tropical Art Deco App from the Play store and take a 2.5 hour guided walk through this magnificent town.

The Art Deco app can be found and downloaded from the Apple Store, Google Play or you can directly download it from Council’s website.

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