Swimming, Where wet dreams become reality…
Living in the tropics and a city that is located around the equator experience hot weather throughout the year. It is because the sun remains almost directly overhead everyday. Living in tropical Cairns is no exception and we get to experience the hot and humid during summer months in Cairns and North Queensland in general. It is no surpise that the local residents usually retreat to the backyard pool or many visitors and locals tend to go and enjoy the free public outdoor swimming pool on the Cairns promenade.
For many local residents and adventurers tend to chase the chilly waters of natural swimming holes, waterfalls and creeks. The thought of being able to sit in a cool refreshing rock pool surrounded by beautiful rainforest is one of the great pleasures of living in this part of the world – Life is better when you’re swimming.
During the winter months from Mid-May to August, it is the high season for the region where many tourists and seasonal visitors flood this region to enjoy the mild winter weather. However, during the summer months, the region of Cairns and its surroundings from Innisfail (south of Cairns) to Mossman (north of Cairns) to Inland areas of Atherton Tablelands, west of Cairns has its advantages. If you plan to visit Cairns and its surrounding during the summer months, I highly recommend what the locals like, and head inland or head south or north of Cairns to find a beautiful swimming hole to splash in.
Here in Cairns, there are many swimming holes that are popular among locals and visitors and there are others that are only known to locals. There are many more yet to be discovered. Living in this beautiful part of world for over 30 years, I have come to enjoy many of this amazing swimming holes, waterfalls and creeks. Here is my list of the best swimming holes in Far North Queensland which does not require arduous drive and are easily accessible in any coventional vehicles.
Located at the end of Redlynch Valley in Cairns, Crystal Cascade is a popular swimming spot among locals and tourists because of its proximity to Cairns which only take 15-20 minutes of drive from the centre of Cairns city. Not accessible by public transport, to get there, you need your own transport. The water cascades down the mountain creating beautiful waterfalls with many vantage points. Swimming is only permitted in allocated areas for safety reasons and jumping is not allowed from the waterfall. From the carpark to the top of the pathway, there are several different pools of water where you can swim with steps leading down. Some steps are steep. Some swimming holes are shallower than others. There are two other swimming holes in the same area: Fairy Falls involes steep climb and can be very slippery and not suitable for feint-hearted and young children. Oasis Waterhole is not popular as it is not signposted and can only see a path that leads through the trees.
The drive to Stoney Creek from Cairns city centre is approximately 12 kilometres and is accessed from the Western Arterial Road (known as Reservoir Road among locals). It is same road that takes you to Crystal Cascade but you bypass the Crystal Cascade turn-off and continue driving further along the main Reservoir Road until you turn left just before the Barron River bridge and along residential areas before reaching Stoney Creek. This creek is part of the Barron Gorge National Park and is hidden beneath the steep and wild forest surround the Barron Gorge. From the carpark, it requires some walking and invovles some rock-hopping and picking your way over and around the exposed twisted roots of ancient trees. As you go further up the gorge, there are several rock pools and sparkling water holes dotted along the creek. These are terrific places to explore, sit in a pool and cool off or take some excellent water rapid photographs. At the bottom, there is a weir that many people sit in but if you walk up along the creek, you will come across some nice rock pool areas that are a little more private. Stoney Creek is a safe place to swim, however downstream towards the Barron River, crocodiles have been sighted. This is still unknown to many people.
The Goldsborough Valley is a campsite area with beautiful swimming spot where you can swim and canoe all day long. It is one of the greenest areas in the tropical north. It is hidden between high mountains south fo Cairns where it funnels the Mulgrave River out to sea. This campsite and swimming spot is one of the favourite spot for Cairns locals because of its proximity to Cairns city, just 40-60 minutes drive south from Cairns CBD. Once your there, you feel like a world away from anywhere. The river is beautiful and there is plenty of wide open spaces for picnic and has all the facilities you could possibly ask for.
Ross & Locke
This swimming spot located just before the foothills of Gillies range inland from Gordonvale is one of the series of Mulgrave River swimming holes, just before Little Mulgrave River swimming area. This is a favourite for locals from everywhere because you can drive right up to the river and the terrain nearby which is good for 4WD and quad biking. Ross & Locke is a family oriented swimming spot as it is fun for kids because they can jump in from the bridge and float along with the rapids downstream. Within just 20 munitues of drive, south of Cairns makes it a popular spot not only for the locals living around Gordonvale and Mulgrave area but for Cairns local residents. This swimming hole can be dangerous after heavy rains and beware of danger signs.
Little Mulgrave River
Little Mulgrave River is located at the bottom of Gillies Range, right beside the road and about 20 kilometres south of Cairns. It is a beautiful little spot and tend to be very popular among families because of its shallow and gentle river flow. It has a little beach area and the bottom is quite sandy too. Just above the river is the Mountain View pub where foods can be purchased if you forget to bring snacks. A little further drive up Little Mulgrave road, there are more water holes which are little known to visitors and even locals.
Behana Gorge, which lots of locals rave about this spot is just within 30 minutes of drive, south of Cairns where you will find the starting point to this spot. As you drive along the main highway, past Gordonvale, across the Mulgrave River bridge and immediately passing ‘The Pyramid”, you will located the entrance to Behana Gorge along Behana Gorge Road. Following this road amongst the sugarcane fields until you reach the carpark. This is the begining of the track to Behana Gorge and takes about 7 kilometres of return trip. There are number of steep inclines and track is mostly concrete. It is worth the walk and the track eventually opens out into a larger swimming hole with rock pools. With pristine swimming holes, breathtaking views and stunning waterfalls that flow into a deep granite gorge, Behana is a spectacular sight all year round. There are no facilities available so bring along snacks, drinks and sunscreen which become very handy. The best time to get there is early morning or late afternoon when the sun is not as hot. This Gorge is part of the Cairns Regional Council catchment, it supplies Cairns with fresh water from the rainforest.
Harvey Creek is located 5 kilometres north of Babinda township is a favourite swimming hole for locals. It is not that easy to see from the main highway but is just off the main highway. If your heading south from Cairns, you have to turn left at the Harvey Creek, turn-off is just after driving through Deeral, a tiny little town on the highway. The area has a grassy spot were you can camp by the river or at one of the picnic tables. There are plenty of shallow areas and rockpools to sit in if you don’t feel like swimming and the water is crystal clear that you can see the bottom, which is always a bonus. The bottom of the creek is mainly sandy and you don’t have to worry about sharp rocks.
The Babinda Boulders located in Babinda area is only 6 kilometres drive from the township and about an hours drive south from Cairns. Babinda Boulders have large swimming holes set amongst thick rainforest with steps down to the water and plenty of space to swim or lie on inflatables. There are series of crystal clear swimming holes and the water is cold all year round. It is safe to swim in designated swimming holes. Further down the creek, boulders are slippery and dangerous when wet. The swimming holes are very popular among locals and tourists. It is a beautiful spot with picnic facilities, toilets, change rooms and playground.
Josephine Falls located at the bottom of Queensland’s highest mountain, Mouth Bartle Ferre is just 5 kilometre drive south from Babinda township, passing through Mirriwinni township before turning right off the main highway. To reach the Josephine Falls, it is a 1.2 kilometre walk return and is wheel chair friendly. This waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the area and is very popular with swimmers and photographers. The waterhole is at the bottom of the rocks and many swimmers love to slide down the smooth rocks of the waterfall. The best spot to swim is at the bottom of the falls. It can be dangerous and there are fenced-off areas that are not safe to swim and always be caution and respect the danger signs.
Mossman Gorge, situated outside Mossman township is about 70 kilometres of drive north of Cairns or just 10 kilometres north of Port Douglas. Mossman Gorge is one of the hidden gems in Tropical Far North Queensland, Australia and it is well worth a visit all year round. It is known by locals as one of the best freshwater swimming locations in the region. It is a breathtakingly beautiful crystal-clear river marked by huge granite boulders and lined by lush tropical rainforest. The thick tropical rainforest and serene beauty that surrounds it is breathtaking and the water is so refreshing and breathtakingly chilly but on a hot day you will be gald you went for a dip.
Davies Creek located in Tablelands, off the main highway between Kuranda and Mareeba has a natural beauty. It has a terrific swimming hole at the bottom but if you want a deeper swimming area, head further up the hill and follow the signs. It is very popular among locals and tourists as it for camping too where you virtually camp right beside the creek so close to the water. To get there, you have to drive along a 5 kilometre of corrugated dirt road. A little further along the main highway just before Mareeba township is Emerald Creek. It is not as popular as Davies creek and the road has some rough parts and you require 4WD vehicle.
Lake Eacham located in Atherton Tablelands, south west of Cairns is about an hours drive from Cairns. This swimming water hole is very popular and favourite among locals, tourists and tour companies . This volcanic crater swimming spot is surrounded by scenic beauty and lush tropical rainforest makes it one of the places you have to visit during summer months. Like all popular swimming holes, it has all the facilities: – picnic tables, toilets and change rooms. This is one of my favourite to visit around Atherton Tablelands. Life is betten when swimming in summer months.
For further information on “where and how to get there” on any of these swimming waterholes and others, contact me.