Far North Queensland

Local economy

The Cassowary Coast Region is a local government area in far north Queensland, south of Cairns and centred on the towns of Innisfail, Cardwell and Tully. Mission Beach lies between Innisfail and Tully. Mission Beach became part of the Johnstone Shire in 1937.

Cassowary Coast’s Gross Regional Product was $1.57 billion in the year to June 2019. It’s major industry is Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing which generated 2,679 local jobs in 2018/19, representing 22% of total employment.  In comparison, Tourism and Hospitality represented 7.2% of total employment.

Ideal cocoa growing conditions are based on equatorial distance and climate. Cocoa grows well in warm and wet places such as Mission Beach which is at a latitude of 17.8691 and longitude of 146.1063 and averages 3.41 meters of annual rainfall.


The original inhabitants, the Djiru-speaking Aboriginal people were linguistically, culturally and socially related to the Dyirbal, Girraman and Gulngay groups of the Tully and Murray River districts. Expert hunters, fishers and gatherers, they harvested the rich plant and animal resources of the rainforests and coast. They excelled in making canoes and rafts. Contact with early navigators and coastal surveyors as well as with beche-de-mer fishing boats occurred long before the first white people settled the area.

The first white settlers were the Cutten brothers in 1882. They settled at Bingil Bay and farmed mangoes, bananas, pineapples, coffee, citrus fruit and coconuts. Cargo boats carried their produce south. They were followed by the Unsworths at Narragon Beach; the Garners at Garner’s Beach; and the Porter brothers at Porter's Creek (or “Wongaling Creek”) at the south end of North Mission Beach.

Tully Gorge National Park

Mission Beach from the Chair’s perspective

As Chair of Charley’s I visit regularly on Board business. I prefer tried and true travel and accommodation options.  Arriving at the tastefully remodelled Cairns Airport, I visit the World of Chocolate store that stocks Charley’s. Usually, I chat and buy a bar. I then hire a car for the scenic two hour 140 kilometre drive to Mission Beach. Staying at Castaways Resort, I admire the gorgeous view and take a walk on the beach before a drink and dinner. Sitting at the bar, I spy the small fridge housing Charley’s chocolate.

North Mission Beach

The next morning I walk on the glorious beach and enjoy coffee at Joey’s at the Mission Beach village. I chat  with the locals, then drive to Charley’s for a Board meeting or a Chocolate Tour (388 Cassowary Dve) . Later, I share dinner with local shareholders and Advisory Board Members, often at Bingil Bay Café. I love it. Check out the punkawallas.