Striking west from the sugar capital of Mackay in search of arable land in the 1860s, it was perfectly natural for the first settlers in Pioneer Valley to plant cane. The cane flourished around the village of Marian, and in 1881 a man named David Mitchell built the first crushing mill. The mill might have been a boon to the town and district, but Mitchell made an even greater contribution to Australia and to music through his daughter, Helen. The world came to know and adore Helen Mitchell as Dame Nellie Melba, one of the greatest operatic sopranos of all time. Marian is 38km out of Mackay and is one of a chain of small Mirani Shire towns on the road to Eungella and the Clarke Range which supports the largest rainforest reserve in Queensland. Every year thousands of visitors flock to the 49,000ha Eungella National Park and the Finch Hatton Gorge on the reasonable chance of spotting one of Australia's most fascinating and elusive animals, the duck-billed platypus, in the wild. Even if the platypus eludes them, they'll delight in the scenic wonders and wildlife glimpses from the park's web of walking tracks.