Cris is an Organiser of the Group Hiking South East Qld and More on Meetup. Visit the website at https://www.meetup.com/HikingInSEQLDandMore/ is free to join all the activities posted on the hiking group.
Published October 15th 2021
A remarkable rich valley
The Pioneer Valley is a beautiful area west of Mackay dedicated to the cultivation of sugar cane. The Pioneer Valley encompasses a few rural townships and each one of them has something to offer to the travellers, from warm welcomings to interesting places to see and delicious food.
Small towns include Marian, Mirani, Pinnacle, Finch Hatton and Eungella.
Marian is the gateway to the Pioneer Valley and it has a big sugar mill to crush the cane of the region. Melba House has an Information Centre and Vintage Kiss Cafe. Hike Finch Hatton track and the other trails in Eungella National Park. Stop for a cold beer and lunch at Mirani Hotel and taste a pie in Pinnacle. Immerse yourself in the nature of Eungella National Park, camping for a few nights. Enjoy spotting the platypuses in Broken River and the unique birds in the forest.
Pioneer Valley as seen from the lookout on the Sky Window Circuit, Eungella National Park. Photo by Author.
Marian is a rural town in the Pioneer Valley, just 28 km west of Mackay. The town is surrounded by farmland mostly growing sugar cane. The network of rail lines lead to the Marian Mill, which was constructed in 1885. Every year, Marian Mill crushes two million tonnes of sugar cane. Marian sugar mill processes cane to produce raw sugar, molasses, bagasse and electricity.
Marian is serviced by a hotel, convenience and takeaway stores, bowls club, service station as well as the new Marian Town Centre Shopping precinct, which has a supermarket and a variety of retail food and medical services.
The Marian Railway Hotel provides breakfast, lunch and dinner in a relaxed atmosphere. The Railway Hotel is located at 41 Daly Street, Marian, Qld, 4753.
Coming from Eungella National Park, we stopped at Marian on our way to Cape Hillsborough National Park. We had morning tea in Pioneer Valley Cafe, a nice cafe in the new Marian Shopping Centre. Then we bought provisions in the supermarket before continuing with our itinerary.
Melba House showcases memorabilia, photos, recordings, books and furniture related to Dame Nellie Melba, a famous Australian soprano singer.
The $100 note features Sir John Monash - an engineer, soldier and civic leader recognised for his influence in the building-construction industry, and Dame Nellie Melba - an internationally renowned soprano.
Melba House has also an extensive collection of arts and crafts, including locally handmade gifts and souvenirs. It is also home to the Pioneer Valley Visitor Information Centre and Vintage Kiss Coffee Shop. Vintage Cafe has great reviews and it is located at 4 Anzac Avenue, Marian Qld 4740
Mirani is about half an hour, 37 km from Mackay on the Mackay-Eungella Road. It is a small town with the Pioneer River passing through the township. The Mirani industry is primarily based on sugar cane. There are railway lines crossing town and trains hauling bins full of sugar cane going to the sugar mills.
In 1885, Mackay was connected to Mirani by the Pioneer Valley railway line. Today, the railway line is no longer in use.
Mirani offers visitors and travellers a museum, a library, an Olympic size swimming pool, a caravan park and an 18 hole golf course. Groceries, food and fuel supplies are also available.
The centenarian Mirani Hotel has cold beer and a great menu. Mirani Hotel is family run and prepare delicious food for the customers and has friendly service. You can also pick up drinks at the Mirani bottle shop. Mirani Hotel has good reviews on Google.
Mirani Hotel is at 9 Alexandra Street, Mirani Qld 4754
Mirani railway bridge over the Pioneer River, circa 1910. Photo from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirani,_Queensland
Pinnacle is a small town about 54 km west of Mackay. On our way to Eungella National Park, we stopped in Pinnacle township. I have previously read Pinnacle Hotel was famous for its pies. The Pinnacle Hotel has a country-style and the atmosphere was casual and family-friendly. The pies were good and quite big.
It was great to have a break at Pinnacle to complete the experience in the Pioneer Valley.
Finch Hatton is a charming town about 63 km west of Mackay. The town has a general store, a former railway station, a war memorial and a showground. Also, there is the Criterion Hotel, a caravan park, a primary school and a bush camping ground.
Finch Hatton is the perfect place for a break before continuing towards Netherdale and approaching the mountains of Eungella National Park.
The railway station and war memorial are both heritage listed. Inside the station, there is a shop selling souvenirs, gifts, books, clothes, art, jewellery and many other items.
The quaint shop inside the old railway station. Photo by Author.
The Criterion Hotel has very good reviews, it offers cold beers and delicious food. A la carte menu is available seven days a week. You can enjoy the friendly atmosphere and choose between pasta, pizza, seafood, salads and great steaks. The Criterion caters for vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian dietary requirements.
The Criterion Hotel is at 9 Mackay Rd, Finch Hatton QLD 4756.
Just before Finch Hatton, there is a good camping area called Neem Hall. The camping ground is right on the banks of Cattle Creek and is great for swimming and cooling down. There is also a little animal farm for the joy of kids, with chickens, goats, geese, a turkey and Zelda the border collie. There are no toilet facilities, so you must be self-contained. Bins are provided and drinking water is available.
My friends stayed with their own caravan and paid $15 per night.