An iconic Cairns attraction surrounded by lush rainforest
Nestled in the rainforested foothills of Queensland’s highest mountain, this favourite far northern swimming hole studded with granite boulders and treacherous falls, also happens to be one of the wettest places in the country.
A record 4.6 metres of rain falls on The Boulders every year, Mt Bartle Frere’s towering 1622 metre mountain range snagging the clouds and sending each deluge tumbling off its flanks to surge through lush tropical forest and fill The Boulders’ deep, transparent pools.
Breathtakingly chilly year-round and irresistible on a hot summer’s day, these refreshing pools are said to be home to the spirit of Oolana, an infamous Yidinydji legend and siren who dwells eternally beneath the swift waters, calling for her long-lost lover and beckoning travellers into the creek’s raging wet season flow.
Her story is a warning of sorts against some dangerous rock pools downstream, but rest assured, the waist-deep pools close to the picnic area are calm and clear and very family-friendly.
This magical place has a habit of drawing visitors in and captivating them so that they linger a little longer, enjoying rainforest walks, spotting iridescent Ulysses butterflies and snorkeling with yabbies, freshwater turtles and sizeable jungle perch too.
If you don’t mind bedding down in one of the wettest places in the country, there’s a stunning free camping area just a short walk from the water’s edge where stays are permitted for up to three nights. The impressive facilities on offer include toilets, coldwater showers, drinking water straight from the hills, rubbish bins, picnic tables and wood barbecues – all kept in excellent condition by the Cairns City Council.
Rest assured that it doesn’t always rain in Babinda and during the drier winter months when most snowbirds discover the tropics, clear skies and closed umbrellas are frequent. But whether it rains on your rig or not, it’s impossible to stay dry at this refreshing oasis that easily outranks all others in the state’s far north for its sheer beauty and accessibility.