When the people of Innisfail prepared to take part in the centenary celebrations marking 100 years since Queensland was proclaimed a state:1859-1959, the Italian community in Innisfail raised £5,000. They organised a statue to honour the pioneers of the sugar industry using the same marble chosen by Michelangelo for his masterpieces. By the time thecelebrations took place a life size marble statue of a cane-cutter made in Carrara arrived from Italy.
Erected on the Esplanade,overlooking the Johnstone River near the junction of Edith and Rankin Streets, it is set on a square plinth in an octagonal pool with water spouts on the sides featuring sea creatures.
The Inscription on the monument is:
To the Pioneers
of the sugar
Donated by the Italian
Community of Innisfail
on the first centenary
of the state of Queensland
Immigrants from Malta, Spain and Yugoslavia came to live and work in Innisfail and joined the Italians in the development of the sugar industry which, from 1864, brought great prosperity to North Queensland. For some years indentured Melanesian labour, known as Kanaka, was used in the cutting of cane, but this was halted in 1885. By 1891 large numbers of Italians arrived and the cane fields spread along the Queensland coast providing work for more and more hard-working immigrants, who cut the cane by hand until it was phased out by the 1960s and 1970s.
References: National Trust of Queensland Journal, no. 9, April 1998, pp.23, 24. ; RHSQ vertical file, no. 2760; RHSQ Central Photographic Bureau, Book 2, No. 2128