Cardwell & District Historical Society is a volunteer, not-for-profit organisation. It was formed in 1985 to stop demolition of the original 1892 Town Hall. Under inaugural president, the late Robbie Sing, the Society instead began restoration with $18,000 in Bicentenary funding.
The original hall cost £273 in 1892 and housed the Cardwell Divisional Board, formed eight years earlier. The Hall was the hub of community life for eight decades, before begin re-dedicated in 1988 as a public library and museum. At this time it was named in honour of Johann Christian Hubinger (1835-1908) a Cardwell pioneer farmer and businessman who served 15 terms as local government chairman.
As sugar growing boomed to Cardwell’s north its historic seat of local government moved to Tully in 1929. Under 21st century amalgamations Cardwell Shire faded into history, as Innisfail became the seat of its local government, renamed Cassowary Coast Regional Council.
In 2008 Cardwell’s public library re-located to new premises across Balliol Street, allowing the hall to be dedicated solely as the J. C. Hubinger Museum. In 2009, the Cardwell & District Historical Society incorporated as a non-profit entity, and became resident of the Museum at the pleasure of Cassowary Coast Regional Council.
In February 2011 cyclone Yasi severely damaged the museum which did not reopen until May 2013. Shortly before, or the application of Robbie Sing, the museum building was heritage listed for its original internal theatrical stage and marble first world war memorial.
A special series of exhibitions were staged as part of Cardwell’s 150th anniversary commemorations in 2014 to mark the landing of the first white settlers on January 22 1864.