Gordonvale is a small sugar-growing suburb situated in the southern end of Cairns. Its most famous natural landmark is Walsh’s Pyramid, which rises steeply to 922m. The suburb was previously called Mulgrave and then Nelson. Gordonvale was settled on as a tribute to John Gordon, a pioneer in the district. Gordonvale itself, lies approximately 23km south of the Cairns CBD and is just east of the Gillies Range which leads to the Atherton Tableland. Gordonvale was governed by the Mulgrave Shire Council until its amalgamation with the Cairns City Council in 1995. Many residents still consider Gordonvale to be separate to Cairns, even though the Cairns City Council limits extend a further 6.47km south of Gordonvale to Aloomba.
Operating since 1896, the Mulgrave Central sugar mill is located near the town centre in Gordon St. The mill services about 300 sugarcane farms in the local region and operates during the ‘crush’ season (about six months of the year). When operating, the mill emanates a strong sugary smell downwind. Tours of the mill were previously available, but with the increase in global sugar prices, tours have been stopped as the focus is now on sugar production.
The Mulgrave Settlers Museum is across Gordon St from the mill. The museum has a number of historical items donated from the local community and displays that represent the early gold miners, cedar cutters, Chinese workers and packers (mule train suppliers to the Atherton Tableland). The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10AM to 2PM, however is closed from December to February.
Gordonvale Golf Club is located centrally in the town and has an 18 hole golf course. The course is unusual as nine holes are shared with a horse-racing track, with the other nine going through bushland to run up against the Bruce Highway.
The suburb is surrounded predominantly by sugarcane fields and is only a short drive from many interesting places including the Bellenden Ker National Park and Goldsborough Valley State Forest.