There is no better time than right now to chase waterfalls in Tropical North Queensland. Welcome to the wet season! For me, every chance I’ve had has been spent swimming in secret waterholes and showering under the most incredible cascading waterfalls.
I have compiled a list of my top swimming holes and waterfalls that I have experienced in Far North Queensland for you to one day enjoy!
I will start with the closest to my current home. Tranquility Falls is approx 15 minutes from from the Daintree Village. The waterfall couldn’t be more accurate to its name; tranquility. The falls is on private property so a $10 donation per person is asked for. This can be donated in the honesty box at the front gates.
I have become quite the regular here. If you’re visiting the Daintree Rainforest, be sure to check out Mossman Gorge. From the visitor centre, take the shuttle bus to the top of the Gorge (approx $9 return which goes towards supporting the aboriginal community) and enjoy a refreshing swim in the heart of the oldest rainforest in the world. Be respectful of the current water level conditions – don’t put yourself in danger.
Emmagen Creek is the end of the road in Cape Tribulation, unless you have a 4WD and wanted to continue to Cooktown. Park your car, take the path on your left, follow the creek and you’ll stumble across a tropical jungle oasis. Complete with a rope swing and surrounded by rainforest, you could spend all day here!
Not popular with tourists but with the locals. 20 minutes from Port Douglas, Shannonvales’ swimming hole is the perfect spot for an after work afternoon swim. Someone has built a swing over the creek making it feel even more magical! And don’t worry, there are no crocs.
Spring Creek Falls
Nobody seems to know about the spring creek falls. Hidden deep in the rainforest is a secret trek that will take you along a series of waterfalls and swimming holes. There is no set path, you just stick to the creek, rock hop and climb until you reach the end waterfall. You will know when you get there and you will have the place to yourself.
Josephine Falls is a tiered cascade waterfall located in Wooroonooran National Park, 1hr south of Cairns. At the bottom of the tiered waterfall is a beautiful swimming hole surrounded by lush green rainforest. Josephine falls is most famous for its natural waterfall slide.
Cardwell Spa Pools
2 hours south of Cairns is the magical Cardwell Spa Pools, a naturally fed, seasonal creek with the bluest of blue water. In dry season this waterhole looks a lot different so make sure you check the water levels before you go! You can do this by contacting the Cardwell Visitor & Heritage Centre.
4 hours south of Cairns is Australia’s tallest single drop waterfall. 268 meters high, you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the falls from their viewing platform. If you are feeling active, there is a track that leads down to the bottom of the falls, but be prepared for a steep descent and loose terrain. Remember to take plenty of water and food for the climb!
Barron Falls, on the Barron River is a 40 minute drive outside of Cairns protected by the Barron Gorge National Park. If you’re on travelling the area, it is well worth visiting Barron Falls via the Kuranda Scenic Railway and/or Kuranda Skyrail. During the wet season, Barron Falls is roaring.
Just a 30 minute drive from Cairns is the Crystal Cascades. Park your car, take the path on the right and make your way up to a secluded freshwater swimming hole surrounded by huge granite boulders!
At the Crystal Cascades car park, if you take the left path instead of right and head into the jungle you will find the most beautiful hidden waterfall. It is absolutely magical! There is a fallen tree which has routed itself to the ground and a rope to hold onto making you feel like you are in some kind of fairytale.
Millaa Millaa Falls
The insta famous Millaa Millaa Falls. It is hard to get this place to yourselves unless you choose to go super early! Millaa Millaa is one of the three waterfalls (along with Zille and Ellinjaa falls) found on the waterfall circuit in the Atherton Tablelands. The falls cascade perfectly into a lush rainforest lagoon where you can enjoy a refreshing swim or picnic on the grass. Did you know Millaa Millaa Falls is the location for the herbal essence advert!
Keep following the road on from Millaa Millaa and you will find Zillie Falls. No where near as popular but just as beautiful! We stood at the top of the falls and took in the view from above but you do have the option to make the trip down.
My personal favourite of the three along the waterfall circuit. Picturesque, peaceful and powerful. The waterfall cascades over a series of lava columns and during the wet season it is just insane! Another ideal spot for a swim but whilst you’re there, keep an eye out for turtles and platypus.
My absolute personal favourite and it is pretty clear to see why. Windin Falls in the Atherton Tablelands took my breath away. The 3hr return hike including the leeches and the two times I fell over, were so worth this view. You will arrive at the top of the falls, with an infinity pool and views over the stunning green valley. The infinity pool is too dangerous to swim in during the wet season so please stay safe if you make the trek.
I feel lucky to have stood and witnessed these natural wonders. You just don’t get this kind of magic in England! I will miss living in the tropics.
I need to start packing my backpack, it is time for another adventure. Speak soon,
P.s. With every waterfall and swimming hole you visit on your travels, be cautious and respectful of warning signs. They are there for a reason and that is for your safety. If there are no signs, please use your brain and be mindful, don’t put yourself in danger just for that “instagram” picture.
Your life is precious.