A freelance writer with an interest in just about everything.
Published September 22nd 2014
Swim in crystal-clear water at the base of a waterfall
When most people think of Cairns, the first thing that pops into their minds is the Great Barrier Reef. Throw in snorkelling, the Cairns Lagoon swimming pool, a whole lot of backpackers and maybe even the Daintree and you've fleshed out a list of what most people associate with a Cairns holiday.
But there's one very juicy secret that not all that many tourists who visit Cairns know about. It's called Crystal Cascades, and the fact that it's not yet a tourist haven makes it all the more worth visiting.
Tucked away in the tropical rainforest less than half an hour's drive inland from Cairns, Crystal Cascades is a secluded freshwater swimming hole. It's just the sort of place you'd expect to find in an area of pristine tropical rainforest, with clear water, a number of waterfalls and several great swimming spots.
Crystal Cascades is actually a small section of Freshwater Creek with several swimming holes and multiple waterfalls. From the car park, you walk up a bitumen track that winds its way next to the creek for 1.5km. There's a bit of an uphill slope but it's nothing too strenuous or taxing on the calves.
The walk through the rainforest, surrounded as you are by dense greenery and the occasional snippet of birdsong, is a peaceful stroll. And at roughly half a dozen points along the track you'll find stairs leading down the embankment to the natural pools that form Crystal Cascades.
Simply pick your spot and jump right in. The water may be a little chilly, but chances are you'll have worked up a sweat on your walk anyway. Take some time to cool off and float about, keeping an eye out for the jungle perch that call these waterholes home.
At the top of the walk is the largest swimming spot accompanied by the most impressive of the area's waterfalls. There's a high perch next to this waterfall which is known as the "No Fear" jump, with plenty of more adventurous visitors partial of making the leap of faith into the waterhole below. This is not something I'd recommend doing - the sheer number of signs warning against leaping from the rocks gives you a fair idea just how unsafe it really is.
Once you've finished exploring the waterholes, make the most of the picnic tables and barbecues provided. The area can be quite popular with the locals in summer months, but if you're lucky enough to visit Crystal Cascades on a quiet day and get a swimming hole all to yourself, it might even be the highlight of your trip to Cairns.