Some treasures are known only to the locals, and the Barrel in the Upper Barron on the Far North Queensland Tablelands is one of them - unless of course, you are a geocacher in search of an elusive cache. There happens to be one hidden here by the way, so locals and geocachers aside, nobody knows about this swimming spot.
When chatting with some residents of the Tablelands, we discovered that even people who have lived here for twenty plus years, were completely unaware of this gorgeous swimming spot on Poona Creek.
Deep at the bottom of the waterfall chute, with some large boulders at the base of the pool, this swimming spot also boasts a lovely sandy bottom and a gradual sandy incline into the pool. There is shallow water to the rocky dam someone has begun building, and is perfect for the little ones to have a large area to frolic in, while the older ones can enjoy swimming in the deeper part of the pool.
The steep trail down to the sandy shore of the Barrel
What makes this spot unique is it is surrounded by rocks and greenery, giving the feel of being down in a small crater. Despite the road being fairly close to the swimming hole, swimmers cannot see the road. Likewise, anyone driving by will not know there is a swimming spot there unless they get out of the car and hear the water or happen to spot an overgrown path worth exploring. It is private and isolated enough to go skinny dipping in the middle of the day with an ear out for approaching vehicles (yes we totally did!).
To approach the water, there is an obvious trail leading downwards towards a rocky area. When you explore down this path, you will find yourself at the top of the small waterfall with a shallow creek and plenty of rocks. It is a good spot for some good photos.
If you're planning on swimming though, the best approach is the least logical one. Take the left, overgrown trail-head that heads up the hill. A short walk uphill on this trail will lead to a fairly steep
descent down into the forest. At the bottom is a small sandy shore leading into the swimming hole.
If it is the geocache you are after, the clue provided is all you need to locate the cache, although I will say the cache itself is not at the most obvious place the clue mentions but rather in that general area.
To access the Barrel, take Plath Road off the Kennedy Highway in the Upper Barron area between Atherton and Mount Hypipamee. Just follow Plath Road as far as you can, it becomes Ford Road eventually and you will reach a point where it the road becomes a really tough dirt track. Park at the bottom as this track continues up a very steep hill and is only suitable for 4WD from this point on. The two trail-heads to the swimming spot are near the base of this hill.
Nothing beats that cool refreshing feeling of a recent swim in the cold waters of the Tablelands water table on a hot day. Head out there and enjoy yourselves this weekend.