Tropical North Queensland's magnificent mountain ranges and ancient rainforest create the perfect environment for a multitude of spectacular waterfalls. High on weekend adventure checklists for many locals and a must-do for those here on holiday, waterfall chasing is popular year-round thanks to our tropical climate. As a lover of all things living in North QLD and of weekend escapes, I'm going to take you to five of my favourite waterfall spots, just a short drive from Cairns.
1. Stoney Creek
Situated just 20 minutes from Cairns, Stoney Creek is only a short drive away, yet feels as though you're miles from everything. Soaring rainforest canopies, dappled light and crystal clear pools set the scene, and with endless swimming spots available along the creek, Stoneys offers something for everyone. Bathe in pools just a moments walk from the car park, take a short walk up the track to find your own private sanctuary or go the distance and trek up to Old Weir Falls at the top. To find Stoney Creek, head down the Western Arterial Road and turn off at Stoney Creek Road in Kamerunga.
2. Millaa Millaa Falls on the Tablelands Waterfall Circuit
The most photographed waterfall in Australia for a reason, Millaa Millaa falls should be high on anyone's bucket list. Situated just over an hour and a half from Cairns, Millaa Millaa Falls are best found by heading south and taking the Gillies Highway up to the Atherton Tablelands. Featuring cascading falls above a huge pebbly swimming hole and a spacious grassy area to sprawl under the sun in between dips, it's the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon with a picnic. You can even spot freshwater turtles in nearby streams! If you want to make a day of waterfall hopping, pack the car and visit Zillie and Ellinjaa Falls to complete the waterfall circuit while you’re up there. Don’t forget to stop at the Lake Barrine Teahouse for their famous scones on the way!
3. Josephine Falls
Did somebody say natural waterslide? Situated just an hour south of Cairns, you will find "natures playground". Josephine Falls is situated at the bottom of Queensland's highest Mountain Range, Bartle Frere and fed by rains trickling down through the valley. Enjoy lush surrounds of World Heritage Listed Rainforest, refreshing lagoons and wheelchair-accessible viewing platforms.
4. Behana Gorge
If you like the sound of working for a reward, Behana Gorge is the stop for you. Enjoy 3.2km of walking through the valleys and hills of Wooroonooran National Park before being treated with spectacular views of the Gorge and cascading waterfalls. Although completely concreted, the walk has some steep hills and can be challenging, so walking shoes and ample water are recommended.
5. Davies Creek Falls
As the rainforest transitions to outback, you will find Davies Creek Falls, just 21km from Kuranda on the Atherton Tablelands. With water flowing over giant granite boulders and a natural infinity pool, Davies Creek is a stunning spot to cool off. If a day trip isn't enough, you can pitch a tent at the nearby campgrounds.
Photo credit: Tourism and Events Queensland/Andrew Watson