Grasstree Beach is a coastal township, 13 km north-east of the town of Sarina and 30 km south of Mackay.
The Grasstree Beach area originally formed part of Cliftonville Station, a pastoral run taken up by Edmund Atherton, one of the Sarina district's original European settlers. In 1865 an ex-Victorian gold miner working on the station discovered a gold nugget on the property, a discovery kept quiet so as to avoid the damage it was feared a gold rush would bring.
Twenty-one years later, however, James Muggleton, a local pastoralist and gold fossicker made a further discovery in the foothills of the Grassstree Beach area. By 1889 the Zelma Production Company had been formed for the purposes of mining the precious metal, around which the small township of Zelma evolved.
The name taken from the daughter of one of the area's early European settlers, Zelma had a butcher, grocery store, two hotels, a bakery, police station and school, the latter which closed in 1896 and was subsequently relocated to nearby Alligator Creek (where a state school continues to this day). An Acting Post Master was also appointed to serve the township, although its fortunes were relatively short lived. Mining returns abated, and the township wound down in the 1890s. Settlers relocated, particularly to Plane Creek (Sarina), which with the establishment of the Plane Creek Sugar Mill in the mid-1890s offered surer business and economic prospects than Zelma's declining gold mines.
Grasstree Beach today is a popular holiday and recreational destination. With a long, safe beach and views across Zelma Bay to the Palm Islands and bulk ore carriers servicing the Hay Point coal loading facility, it attracts both locals and visitors. It has a shop, camping reserve, picnic area and a boat ramp. A progress association serves the interests of the locals, and beach motorbike races are hosted annually. It is also the centre for the local prawn and fishing industry, including a prawn hatchery.
Grasstree Beach's census populations have been: