Exploring Ingham is when I came across the most beautiful waterfall and the most spectacular views I have seen in Australia so far. It is a sleepy town located between Mission Beach and Townsville. It is not a backpacker town, but there are some absolutely stunning places here and in the surrounding area. This post is about my time exploring Ingham and the most gorgeous waterfalls, wetlands and elusive island paradises.
Exploring ingham and the Tyto wetlands
Places not to miss in the town are the awesome Mercer Lane mosaics, right next to the highly recommended JK’s deli. This was a community project started by the owner of a motel. My uncle was heavily involved in the project as the owner of a tile business. There is a plaque in the lane thanking him and my aunt and giving a bit of their life history. So on a pole in Ingham you can find the name of a little English town! Apparently anyone travelling by could help place a couple of tiles. I think it is a great idea, and the mosaics depict ingham and the history of sugar cane.
The Tyto wetlands are probably the centrepiece of your stay in Ingham. This is a restored area named after the elusive Tyto owl. It offers beautiful walks and boasts 240 bird species. Also, it is home to two saltwater crocodiles. I was slightly freaked out by the massive warning signs at the entrance to the wetlands. I ran at top speed across the bridge at the first pond, and then felt slightly ridiculous. The visitor centre is very interesting and contains loads of information about the wetlands. In this area is also the library and local art gallery, and acts as a bit of a cultural centre.
Wallaman Falls is the largest single drop waterfall in Australia at 268m. It was hands down my favourite part of exploring Ingham’s surroundings. The car park and main viewing platform are at the top of the falls. If you want to reach the water, it’s a 2km steep hike plus 50m of clambering over rocks. There are warning signs everywhere depicting people falling and dying of heatstroke. If the signs don’t put you off though, it’s a great walk.
I don’t recommend wearing sandals, but the guy I walked down with was wearing flip-flops, so it’s not like I could complain. If you love being active and clambering over rocks this is so much fun. The rocks are slippery, so be careful. You need a rucksack to carry your water and phone in order to balance with both hands. Also be aware you are likely to get wet. When the wind changes direction the spray from the waterfall can feel like a shower. Thankfully this cools the air temperature and the hike itself is shaded by the forest so I never got too hot.
Just a short drive from Ingham and seen from the beach suburb of Lucinda, Hinchinbrook Island is the largest island on the Great Barrier Reef. It is also completely uninhabited. This rainforest covered island is so pristine only 40 people are allowed at one time. There is a spectacular 32 km hiking trail which offers campsites with toilet facilities and water refills. Apparently waiting lists for island access can extend several months, depending on group size.
Other options include exploring the outside coat of the island by kayak. Whether hiking or paddling, this is definitely one place on my bucket list. Hopefully it remains the undeveloped, undisturbed environment it is today.
Is it worth exploring Ingham?
I would say, definitely yes. Unfortunately, as a backpacker it is not so easy. There are a few motels but no hostels in town. I am very lucky that I am able to stay with family. The greyhound bus driver seemed relieved when he saw me with my uncle at the bus stop. Clearly he realised that Ingham is not really a backpacker town. It is a shame, because there are some beautiful places here.
Whilst the wetlands are dead in the centre of town, the Wallaman Falls can only be accessed by car. If you really don’t want to miss out, there are day tours that come here from Townsville, which is more backpacker friendly.
If you are lucky enough to have a car and roadtrip wherever you please, I really recommend taking the time and exploring Ingham.