Mission Beach, an idyllic tropical coastal town in Far North Queensland, Australia, is a town steeped in art culture and history. The late artist Helen Wiltshire (1945-2011) played a major role in fostering this rich arts culture through her galleries. In 1980 Helen opened her first gallery, which began as the ‘Bingil Bay Gallery’ at her home in the rainforest in Bingil Bay and later became the ‘Helen Wiltshire Gallery’ which continues today in Mission Beach and is now owned by Helens Three children, Ben Wiltshire, Amanda Wiltshire and Hilary Watson. Helen also opened galleries in Cairns, Hamilton Island, Port Douglas and Palm Cove. Through her galleries she was able to showcase other local artists, many of whom have gone on to become renowned Australian artists.
After a successful career in fashion design in Melbourne, the alternate tropical lifestyle that Mission Beach offered was what captivated Helen. Along with her husband Steve Wiltshire and her two young children, they built a home in the rainforest across the road from the beach at Bingil Bay. The home was open to the rainforest and wildlife and had polished mud floors. After the birth of her third child in 1980, they extended the house, connected electricity and opened the home up to the public as the ‘Bingil Bay Gallery’. Their unusual and beautiful home they had created and their alternative lifestyle fascinated visitors and was written about in many magazine articles.