The new athericid Suraginella macalpinei n.gen., n.sp. is described on specimens from the Claudie River and Jardine River systems in the north of Cape York Peninsula. This distinctive taxon is compared with the widespread Old World genus Suragina Walker, 1858, to which it has some misleading resemblances. Many differences are detailed between these genera. In the closure of wing cell m3, and in having dorsal setae on certain radial and cubito-anal veins in the female, Suraginella resembles the rare monotypic Brazilian genus Xeritha Stuckenberg, 1966. Although these conditions are apomorphies, they are considered unreliable for cladistic analysis. A survey of the occurrence of such setose veins in other Athericidae and in the sister-group Tabanidae shows them to be sporadic, variably developed, and probably subject to homoplasy. No sister-group of Suraginella can be identified. The presence of a hard, dark mass in the abdomen of half of the available females indicates with high probability that S. macalpinei takes bloodmeals from a vertebrate host. A test of gut contents for the presence of blood, using urological test strips, gave a strong positive result but is not conclusive. Biological considerations suggest that Suraginella, although occurring in both 'tip-of-peninsula' and 'mid-peninsula' rainforest regions of Cape York Peninsula, may be independent of the forest biome. The preferred range of the aquatic larval stages in river profiles may determine distribution. Present information suggests that Suraginella may be part of the old 'autochthonous' element in Australia.