Mother Nature sees your backyard swimming pool and raised you her take on it with these waterfalls and swimming spots– each perfectly moulded and best explored with a sense of adventure.
The Cassowary Coast might be famous for its feathered locals, but this stretch of coastline, which runs from Cairns to Cardwell, ought to be just as famous for its swimming holes.
Lucky for visitors, finding where to cool off on the Cassowary Coast is simple, with easy access to both the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics Rainforest.
Dive into the Cassowary Coast way of life at one of these waterfalls or swimming spots.
We see your waterparks and raise you the natural kind, Josephine Falls, found an hour south of Cairns. This granite playground sits among the foothills of Queensland’s highest mountain, Mount Bartle Frere, and is a waterfall lover’s paradise complete with rockslide that will see you scooting toes first into the emerald-green pools below. Togs and a towel are all you need for this waterhole, which is only a short, 600m walk (or 1.2km return) from the car park.
Please note: Stay clear of the restricted access area as serious injuries and deaths have occurred here. Penalties apply. Water conditions can be unpredictable and hazardous. Obey all safety signs and only swim in the designated area.
Waterfalls don’t come more postcard worthy than Nandroya Falls, but you’ll need your hiking boots to get there if you want to take the hike which connects you from the Henrietta Creek camping area to the famous falls.
The juice will be worth the hiking squeeze, as you make your way through the Wet Tropics Rainforest, walking past its little sister, Silver Falls en route to the main attraction, Nandroya. Reward your efforts with a dip – this waterhole is refreshing all year round. Keen campers can even base their adventure at Henrietta Creek campground at the start of the trail, which includes loos, BBQs and running water.
If you’ve come to North Queensland on a mission to see a cassowary, you’re in with a good chance at Djiru National Park. From the Lacey Creek Day-use area you can read about cassowaries and their connection to the rainforest via interpretive signage before taking one of the short walks through lowland rainforest to spot one. The 1.2km Lacey Creek Circuit criss-crosses Lacey Creek, where crystal-clear waters make turtle and fish wildlife spotting a possibility if your cassowary search returns no sightings.
Cardwell Spa Pool
This Insta-famous blue pool may have broken the Tropical North Queensland internet in 2016, but they’ve been famous with locals for generations before the little internet, aka Instagram, caught wind. Its distinct blue colour is caused from the high levels of magnesium and calcium in the water, which can vary from a bright blue to a milky baby blue depending on the time of day and level of sunshine.
While you’re exploring the coastline between Cairns and Townsville, don’t forget to check out these 12 things to do when visiting the Cardwell Spa Pool.
Bring the wide-angle lens because Wallicher Falls is made up of multiple drops in a spectacular show and spray of Wet Tropics waterfall magic. Being part of the Palmerston section of Wooroonooran National Park, you can easily combine your trip to Wallicher Falls with Tchupala Falls.
For swimming, take note, the only swimming hole is above Wallicher Falls themselves, so you’ll need to follow the track to the top of the waterfall.
Attie Creek Falls
Time your visit for summer because Attie Creek Falls is seasonal, despite being found on one of the wettest stretches of coastline in Queensland. A short 700m connects the carpark with the falls, which make the perfect backdrop for summer-swimming. Combine Attie Creek Falls with the Cardwell Spa Pool on this list, for a full day of waterhole chasing.
Mother Nature proves once again she knows a thing or two about water features, with granite boulders serving as the backdrop for one of the prettiest waterfall shows, Murray Falls. Find it within Girramay National Park on a 3oom walk to the base of the falls. The more adventurous can tackle a 1.8 kilometre (return) walk, which takes you to a lookout over the falls. Nature spotting comes a plenty, with wallabies, possums and a variety of reptiles and wildflowers blooming each spring. For those chasing a dip, although you can’t swim in Murray Falls themselves, you can swim in the pools downstream from the falls.
Don’t let its name put you off – there’s nothing scary about Alligators Nest near Tully. The crystal-clear waters of Alligators Nest earnt its name as when you dive into the water, the leaves come up and tickle your legs. No matter the time of the year, you can expect icy cold water – ideal for refreshing your road tripping muscles, if you’ve made the journey down from Cairns. Those travelling with pets, take note, this swimming hole (like most on this list) is not pet friendly.
Mission Beach Dive
Being the closest point on the mainland to the Great Barrier Reef a trip to Mission Beach guarantees one thing – excellent reef accessibility. Join Mission Beach Dive for a day trip to experience the Great Barrier Reef by scuba or snorkel, to cool off in the most famous reef in the world. Leaving after breakfast and returning in time for sundowners, in between you’ll come ashore at Dunk Island before exploring two Outer Great Barrier Reef locations (exact sites determined according to the weather).
It’s only a short hop, skip and ten-minute water taxi from Mission Beach to Dunk Island, the 10km2 island sitting four kilometres off the coastline. Made up by more than 75 per cent national park, Dunk Island is a powerful combination of reef, rainforest and rocky shores. Cool off in its surrounding waters to see why Dunk Island is called Coonanglebah, “the island of peace and plenty”, in the local indigenous language.