Babinda Boulders, Far North Queensland
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Adventures in the Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland.
Babinda Boulders is a beautiful natural attraction on the fringe of the beautiful rainforests of Wooroonooran National Park. Babinda Boulders has been known for a long time for its cool and crystal waters, a great place where to swim and find relief from the heat. Especially in summer, Babinda Boulders is a very popular spot for cooling off in the pools filled up with fresh water, having picnics and enjoying short walks.
The vicinity of the National Park with its majestic forest, the walking trails, the great amenities and the swimming pools make Babinda Boulders the perfect spot for daily trips. Groups of friends, families, locals and visitors gather in Babinda Boulders all year round.
Babinda Boulders' official name is Boulders Scenic Reserve, but generally, the area is known as The Boulders. The local indigenous people, Yidinji called the area Bunna Binda, which means “Waterfall” or “Water over your shoulder”.
Babinda Boulders Facilities.
Granite boulders form spectacular sections in Babinda Creek.
The iconic Babinda Boulders attracts many tourists and locals. It has many facilities to receive people including carpark, well-signed walking trails, viewing platforms and dedicated swimming holes.
The dangerous zones in the fast-flowing creek are fenced off and there are many safety signages to inform the visitors not to swim in the No Go Zone.
Babinda Boulders Parklands was legally transferred by the Cottone family to the Cairns Regional Council.
Babinda Boulders Free Camping Ground is only 300m away from Babinda Boulders swimming holes and waterfalls. The camping ground is very popular due to the vicinity of Babinda Boulders' beautiful waterway. It is also near Mount Bartle Frere, the highest mountain in Queensland (1,622m) and Mount Bellenden Kerr (1,593m).
There are only eight camping sites at The Boulders Free Camping Ground, but it is possible to share the large spaces with other people.
Visitors are welcome to stay for a maximum of 72 hours. There are cold showers, picnic tables, toilets and rubbish bins provided. The camping ground is suitable for tents, campers, caravans and motorhomes. Pets are not allowed. You have to be self-sufficient with water and food.
Babinda town is only 7 minutes away, a 6km drive, where you can get supplies. There is reception with Telstra.
There is also Babinda Rotary Park Rest Area where you can camp, especially when Babinda Boulders Free Camping Ground gets at capacity in busy times. Babinda Rotary Park Rest Area takes a donation for your staying, a maximum of 72 hours. You can have pets, hot showers for $2; there is a playground, barbeque and picnic area and toilets. Fires are not allowed.
Facilities at Babinda Boulders itself include picnic tables, seating, barbecues, toilets, walking tracks, viewing areas and platforms, play areas, and interpretative signs.
Babinda Boulders is appreciated for the many facilities including covered picnic areas.
The playground is part of the facilities at Babinda Boulders.
There are signs with information about Babinda Boulders, World Heritage values and Indigenous culture.
Cassowary at Babinda Boulders.
There is a memorial to honour the crew that lost their life when the Mitchell Bomber crushed on Mount Bartle Frere and to remember the men who were involved in the search for the plane on the rugged slope of the mountain.
When I arrived at Babinda Boulders, with great delight, I saw a big cassowary strolling around near the playground.
The living dinosaurs, generally are well hidden in the dense rainforests, eating fruits fallen from the trees.
The cassowary is a very charismatic bird, reaching 1.5-1.8m in height and weighing around 50kg. The cassowary female is dominant, bigger and more colourful than the male.
The flightless bird has a very important role in the ecology of the rainforests in dispersing the seeds of the trees, especially the large seeds and maintaining the diversity of the forests.
In the breeding season, May to June, the female lay three to five eggs in a mound of leaf litter prepared by the male. Then, the male incubates the eggs for about 50 days and when the eggs hatch, the male protects and teaches the chicks where to find food and water. The male can be particularly aggressive in order to protect its offspring.
After about nine months, the chicks become independent and they start to live on their own.
Cassowary strolling in Babinda Boulders. Just managed to take a few photos when the giant bird disappeared into the forest.
is an easy 850m loop through the rainforest.
Devil’s Pool Walk
Fungi are one of the many beautiful aspects of the rainforest.
is an easy walk on a well-maintained trail, 1.2km return, alongside Babinda Creek in the No Go Zone. Viewing platforms allow the walkers to remain safe while taking photos and admiring the pools. Devil’s Pool is in the most dangerous stretch of Babinda Creek.
The start of Devil's Pool Walk, the sign presents many warnings.
Along the Devil's Pool Trail.
Devil's Pool Trail is well maintained.
Devil's Pool waters are emerald green and deceitfully quiet.
Along the trail there are viewing platforms that allow you to see the pastel rushing water of the creek safely.
is a more difficult trail in the beautiful and diverse Wooroonooran National Park. The trail was originally created by prospectors in the 1930s, searching for gold on Mount Bartle Frere. When the trail was no longer used, it almost disappeared. The trail was reopened in 1986 thanks to a big volunteer project.
The Swimming Hole.
A big sign marks the start of the Goldfield Trail in Babinda Boulders, just on the side of the playground.
In the main pool is possible to swim safely in the clear turquoise waters and it is easily accessible by a constructed ramp and handrail.
The waters of Babinda Creek run on rocky surfaces and in between big smooth surreal boulders, acquiring hues of green and blue. The waters have been run in the natural waterway for ages, smoothing the granite rocks which have lost their edges.
Babinda Boulders is at the foothills of Mount Bartle Frere and Mount Bellenden Ker. The mountains, the tropical location and the direction of the winds contribute to making the area one of the wettest in Australia. The rains fall on the mountains and flow down in many creeks and some of the creeks are tributaries of Babinda Creek, which flows continuously with fresh mountain water.
The level of the water in Babinda Creek varies in the seasons. In the dry season (May-October) that coincides with winter, the level of water is low and the granite boulders are visible outside the water. In the wet season, summertime (November-April), the boulders are underwater.
The swimmable pool is quite large allowing many people to swim and enjoy safely the waters of Babinda Creek.
Babinda Boulders Hidden Dangers.
A few aspects of the beautiful pool where it is safe to swim.
Babinda Boulders has plenty of lovely waterfalls and idyllic swimming holes, filled with fresh bubbling water that runs down the mountains, but the waters in the No Go Zone present many insidious and hidden dangers.
Unfortunately, many people drowned at The Boulders in the No Go Zone, which is a dangerous section from the Devil’s Pool to below The washing machine.
A few aspects of the Babinda Creek in the No Go Zone.
People swimming in the Devil’s Pool are probably safe, but the problem is due to the slippery rocks, making it difficult for people to exit the pool. The people tend to swim out of the pool near the Chute.
The Chute is extremely dangerous and it is where most of the people have drowned at Babinda Boulders. The Chute is practically a channel that conveys a large amount of water that bubbles. The reduced buoyancy from the process of aeration makes the water less dense and objects – and people- cannot float. Even if a person wearing a life jacket!
The Chute is 8-10m deep and it is like an underwater cave. The combination of the aeration, the force and the pressure of the water makes it impossible for a person to swim up. Even for a strong swimmer!
In the Chute the person is trapped underwater, unable to reach the surface because of the aeration, the force of the water and the ceiling of rock. Very disturbing! Image credit of https://www.cairns.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/538148/Clause-No.-14-The-Boulders-Babinda-Safety-Review.pdf
The Washing machine is at the end of the Chute, where the water falls into a hole spinning and churning. These actions combined with the aeration, hold the person under the water.
The risks of the No Go Zone are always present, independently by the level of the water.
The Aboriginal people had associated a long time ago the dangers with the No Go Zone.
The waters flow has created a hole called The Washing Machine. Here turbulent flow and aeration trap the person under the water. Image credit https://www.cairns.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/538148/Clause-No.-14-The-Boulders-Babinda-Safety-Review.pdf
1 See Babinda Boulders' iconic attraction
2 See a cassowary in the wild
3 Learn more about the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area
How to get to Babinda Boulders.
Fungi are part of the vegetation of the rainforest.
Babinda Boulders is about 1 hour, 65km drive from Cairns travelling on the Bruce Hwy. Turn right into the town of Babinda and travel onto The Boulders Road, which then becomes Bartle Frere Goldfield Road when nearing The Boulders.
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222559 - 2023-07-14 11:13:48