Innisfail is a town located in the far north of the state of Queensland, Australia, which until 1910 was known as Geraldton. It is the major township of the Cassowary Coast and is well renowned for its sugar and banana industries, as well as for being one of Australia's wettest towns. In March 2006 Innisfail gained worldwide attention when severe Tropical Cyclone Larry passed over causing extensive damage.
Prior to European settlement the Innisfail area was occupied by five separate societies of the Mamu people. These Aboriginal people followed migratory lifestyles in the rainforest and traversed rivers in string-bark canoes.
The first arrival of European people came in 1872 when survivors of the shipwreck, the "Maria" arrived on the coastal areas surrounding what is now the Johnstone River. Sub-Inspector Robert Arthur Johnstone's search party came with the intention of rescuing remaining survivors. The crew would later venture up river between what is today Flying Fish and Coquette Points. Johnstone wrote very highly of the area, stating:
Johnstone named the area after himself and upon his recommendation the explorer George Dalrymple arrived in the area in September 1873 to chart the area further.
Later in 1879, Irishman Thomas Henry FitzGerald arrived in the area to establish a sugar industry. He was accompanied by large numbers of Kanaka South Sea Islanders workers accompanied by smaller numbers of Irish labourers. The house built by FitzGerald and thus the first establishment in the area was called Innisfallen, after the largest island in the Lakes of Killarney, Ireland. Inis Fail (island of the stone) is an ancient Irish name for Ireland itself. The name is used in the rarely-sung third verse of "The Soldier's Song", the Irish national anthem. The stone mentioned may be the stone at Tara, Co Meath, at which high kings of Ireland were crowned.
Johnstone River Post Office opened on 1 November 1882 (a receiving office had been open from 1880), was renamed Geraldton two months later and Innisfail in 1910.
The 1920s and 1930s saw the beginning of a major period of settlement by Italian immigrants and noteworthy populations from Greece and Malta. Later in this period populations from Yugoslavia, India and the Philippines would also settle in the area.