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Published April 27th 2021
A village in the mystic forest
Paluma Village is an extraordinary place in the heart of the Wet Tropic Heritage Area and surrounded by National Parks.
The winding road to Paluma Village is very scenic, with ferns, trees and cliffs. Little Crystal Creek is a beautiful swimming spot below a heritage-listed arch bridge It is the only arch road bridge that remains in service in Queensland. Crystal clear water flows down the creek filling the deep pools of Little Crystal Creek, making it an excellent natural swimming hole.
Crystal Creek and in the background the stone-faced arch bridge in the Mount Spec Ranges built in 1933
The Mount Spec Road and Little Crystal Creek Bridge is a heritage-listed road with a stone-faced arch bridge in the Mount Spec Ranges built in 1933.
Set in the rainforest, Paluma Village has a cooler temperature in summer. It's nice and cosy to stay inside the house in front of the fireplace in wintery or rainy days. The elevation of Paluma Village is 2925 feet or 891 metres above sea level.
Paluma Village is surrounded by beautiful National Parks. Photo by Author.
I spent a couple of days in Paluma Village. I stayed with my family in Mt Spec Cottage, a charming cosy cottage dated back to the 1930s. The cottage may have been originally built in Charters Towers or Ravenswood and transported to Paluma in the 1950s.
The cottage has an awesome verandah, where I have been enjoying watching many different birds. On a rainy afternoon, I spent some time inside the cottage reading and it was very relaxing.
The Paluma Range was a "boundary between country occupied by several Aboriginal linguistic groups. The two groups most often in the forests were the Gugu Badhun, of the Burkedin River catchment to the west, and the Nawai from north towards the Herbert River Valley. The Nawagy name for the Paluma Range is Nunan Gumburu, meaning Misty Mountain.
The range was most likely named Paluma in the 1880s by the captain of the colonial government survey ship, HMQS Paluma. Paluma was a converted gunboat, purchased by Queensland with her sister ship Gayundah to meet a perceived Russian threat to the colony. Paluma and Gayundah are also Aboriginal words, said to mean thunder and lightning. - from the sign.
Where the village of Paluma now stands was named Cloudy Clearing by tin miners who were the first Europeans to live in the rainforest. Walking upstream along tributaries of the mighty Burkedin River, these men used simple gold-mining technology like panning dishes to wash the sand of the creek beds for gold, silver and then tin. Grave sized test holes and stone pitched channels called tin races are relics of work undertaken perhaps 125 years ago. The tin races were constructed along permanent water courses, to collect and transport water to drier areas where soil was piled ready for washing. - from the sign.
Gentleman walking his dogs in Paluma Village. Photo by Author. Photo by Author.
Following the construction of the road, the township was gazetted in 1934 with blocks of land in the first subdivision eagerly taken up. The holiday village was just taking shape when World War II broke out. Civilian rest and recreation had to wait until the military left town, as did the declaration of the Mt Spec National Park.- from the sign.
Lovely garden in front of a house. Photo by Author.
Paluma has proud links with the military, from arrival of radar operator from the US Army in 1942 to the Freedom of the City given to the crew of today's HMAS Paluma in 1987/89.
The LW/AW (lightweight air warning) man portable radar unit had its field trials in the forests around Paluma.
The Forests were used for "the first jungle training in the world', with anti-aircraft guns disassembled and the pieces lowered down cliffs in practice for the jungles of New Guinea.
The Royal Australian Air Force took over most of the township during World War II. Radar stations were located in concrete igloos at the eastern end of the village, and a convalescent depot took over the other end, using private houses as wards for the duration of the war. - from the sign.
At war's end, local entrepreneurs fostered rest and recreation opportunities. The Cavill family ran the guesthouse and the Dixon family ran the Mt Spec Tourist Bus Service. In 1952, the national park was declared, providing recognition for the scenic and scientific values of the rainforest.
In 1988, the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area was proclaimed, sparking another boom in tourism and scientific research. Paluma's reputation among birdwatchers is justly deserved, fuelled by the many scientific documentaries made here. International enthusiasts have even complained that there are too many species to identify in just one day!
Paluma today is unspoilt, remaining a beautiful place for educational or scientific research, recreation, artistic endeavours or just quiet reflection. - from the sign.
The beautiful artistic buttresses of a tree in the forest. Photo by Author.
Gumburu means 'misty place' in the language of the local Nywaigi people. Paluma is a mountain-top village nestled in the heart of World-Heritage listed rainforest, at an altitude of 1000m. Access to Paluma is via the Bruce Highway, heading north from the city of Townsville.
The Paluma turn-off is approximately 67 kilometres north of Townsville. The Paluma village is located approximately 18 kilometres from the highway turn-off, via a mountainous range.
Unfurling fern in the morning mist of Paluma Village. Photo by Author.