Located 1287 km north of Brisbane, 88 km south of Townsville and 10 m above sea-level, Ayr is a typical thriving Central Coast town. It is a much more substantial centre than Home Hill which is effectively its twin town, lying just across the Burdekin River.
The Burdekin was first explored in the 1840s and by the 1860s Europeans had moved into the upper reaches of the valley. The coast, being marshy and difficult, was ignored and it wasn't until the 1870s that R. W. Graham of Lilliesmere and A. C. Macmillan of Airdmillan settled on the lower Burdekin and started growing sugarcane. In 1879 they decided to pool their resources to form the Burdekin Delta Sugar Company and this was sufficient for a small settlement to be formed on the northern side of the river. The town was named after the Scottish town of Ayr, the birthplace of the Queensland Premier, Thomas McIlwraith.
Today Ayr lies at the heart of one of the most productive sugarcane-growing areas in Australia. Three mills crush and process the local harvest.
The town is notable for its absence of interesting historical artifacts.
The bridge to the south of Ayr, known as the 'Silver Link', is over a kilometre long and since its construction in 1958 has ensured that the town has not been cut off by the floods which occur on the Burdekin most wet seasons.
Things to see
On the main street of Ayr is a clock tower built in 1928 in honour of John Drysdale, an important local citizen who helped to provide the town and surrounding area with a reliable fresh water supply.
There is also a National Bank, which has some strikingly ostentatious columns, and a rather beautiful and substantial courthouse in the main street with a wide brick verandah.
Just 5 km to the north of Ayr is the tiny settlement of Brandon. It is the kind of sugar-cane town which is easily driven through without so much as a sideways glance. However, at the northern end of town there is a superb wooden Catholic church which is listed on the National Trust. It has been described as: 'a timber Gothic church with a rectangular nave and a later porch and sanctuary. The exposed stud framework is lined with chamferboard. External chamferboards act as flashing above windows and doors. The nave has timber buttresses, lancet windows and ornamental gabled decoration. This is a fine example of a timber vernacular building.' Unfortunately the church was blown off its foundations during a cyclone some years ago. The council have moved it to the far end of town and left it to slowly rot. A pity given that it is obviously a building of great historical interest and that the local area lacks buildings of importance.
Ayr/Burdekin Tourism Association
Ayr QLD 4807
Telephone: (07) 4783 5988