After more than two weeks, we finally left Cairns and continued our journey. We enjoyed Cairns as it had so much to offer. We still had one more attraction to get to – Babinda Kayaking but we decided to approach it from our next camp.
This time we did not drive far, only 90 km to the next bigger town – Innisfail.
Innisfail is a historic sugar cane town located at the junction of two rivers: Johnstone and South Johnstone. Its economy is reliant mostly on sugar and banana plantations. It is one of the few coastal towns that had not been affected by a tourist boost, thus it has its original atmosphere.
Besides, Innisfail is famous for its finest collection of Art Deco buildings.
We decided to stay ashore and we drove 8 km from Innisfail to Flying Fish Point Tourist Park. This way, for the next three days, we could fall asleep swayed by the calm sound of the waves in a small fishing village.
Tully National Park – waterfalls paradise
The day started sunny and cloudless, which means a lot of humidity. Our plan for the day was to drive to Tully National Park and take it by Gorrell Track which we thought is a 4WD track.
To get to Tully National Park we drove Mena Creek Road which was a one-lane bitumen road. We hoped that similarly to our Danbulla drive in Cairns we can take Gorrell Track and drive through dense rainforest.
Mena Creek Road ended at the edge of Tully National Park where Gorrell Track starts. Unfortunately, it is only a mountain bike track, not suitable for 4WD. This was something new to us. We did not know that in Australia we have dedicated mountain bike trails.
Besides, Tully National Park and Gorrell Track is a very interesting area. Gorrell Track itself leads to the Downey Creek camping area and ends at Gorrell Trailhead (western). It is a 26 km distance in total.
From there, there is an unsealed Mapple Creek Road where you can ride or drive to Ravenshoe.
Alternatively, you can take Cardwell Track (walking) from Hinson Creek trailhead that leads you to the outskirts of Ravenshoe.
On the west-south of Tully National Park, there are also Cannabullen Creek Track and Koolmoon Creek Track.
There are a lot of possibilities but we could not do it with a 3-year-old Nell.
We will leave it for another time because the surroundings are beautiful and it will be worthwhile to walk this trail one day.
Etty Bay Beach
On the way back, we stopped at Etty Bay Beach. It is a tiny beach located 8 km east-south from Innisfail.
Before getting there we read in the local guide that they serve very good fish and chips. Sure they do, but not in the wet season. Currently, everything was dead closed.
The good thing was there was a patrolled beach with a stinger net, so we could enter the ocean.
In Northern Australia and Queensland during the wet season, there are stinger nets in patrolled beaches. Note, the net will only stop bigger stingers, and not deadly Irukandji jellyfish which is only 5 mm in size (with up to 1-meter tentacles) that can go through the net.
We spend a good time splashing in the warm water but we did not know that a positive surprise was coming…
Cassowary on the beach
At one point, a cassowary came to the beach, we were shocked at what she was doing there. It turned out the bird comes to eat the waste left by tourists, and sometimes even takes something off the table if people eating lunch…
It was really weird to see a cassowary looking at the man’s lunch and counting he maybe give something away.
On the way back, the weather turned slightly bad and we were driving in heavy rain. However, that did not last as the rain had passed and we could enjoy the landscapes of intensely green fields of sugar cane and banana trees.
Typical North Queensland in the wet season. Rain, clouds, sunshine, repeat.
Post cyclone houses
What surprised me was the sight of a tarpaulin stretched over the roofs of the buildings that were affected by a cyclone.
The last cyclone passed here in January and not all buildings were renovated. Some had the roof partially destroyed and there was no rush in fixing it. Maybe people did not have money to go it? This is only my speculation.
On the other hand, if a cyclone leveled the entire property to the ground every 2-3 years, I wouldn’t worry too much about temporal goods.
Waterfalls in northern Queensland are so common that you can find them almost anywhere. Of course, I exaggerate, but in the Ravenshoe area, this is true.
Today, we came across a larger or smaller waterfall every 5 km. We saw about seven, four of which were given more attention. There is something amazing about the crystal clear water falling from the rocks surrounded by tropical vegetation.
The trails were empty and we had these amazing wonders of nature for ourselves. The water was pleasantly cool and you wanted to jump into it and swim.
Unfortunately, there was a breeding season for the local catfish, which can be dangerous (can you get your tail in the face?), so we skipped a swim.
The next day we decided to do a waterfalls drive. In the morning we left Innisfail and hit Palmerston Highway.
Our first stop was the Henrietta Creek camping area. It is located in Wooroonooran National Park that is home to the state’s biggest peaks: Bartle Frere (1622 m) and Bellenden Ker (1592 m).
Henrietta Creek is not only a camping area but also a starting point for waterfalls walks. The featured, Nandroya Falls was located 4.5 km away so we decided to leave it for the next time as we had plenty to see this day.
Going east from Henrietta Creek there are other falls to explore but the walks are even longer: Walicher Falls and Tchupala Falls.
Our next stop was at Ellinjaa Falls. They are located right off Theresa Creek Road.
There is a 200-meter walk to the base of the falls. Also, behind the falls there is a little ledge to sit on and enjoy the falls scenery. It is a great spot to see turtles or even a platypus (we were not so lucky).
The falls were beautiful with water flowing to the picturesque pool. We relaxed a bit, took great photos, and drove to our next destination – Millaa Millaa Falls.
Millaa Millaa Falls
Millaa Millaa Falls is beautifully located among the dense rainforest. The water flows perfectly to the pristine waterhole below the falls where you can take a swim.
There is a big picnic area where families gather and enjoy nature. Here, as well, you can spot a platypus if you are lucky.
Millstream Falls are the widest falls in Australia. The water is spilling over an old basalt lava flow which is the legacy of the Atherton Tablelands volcanic past.
The falls are located 15 km west from Ravenshoe, slightly down from the tableland altitude. So, instead of lush vegetation, Millstream Falls is surrounded by dry woodland vegetation.
Interestingly, the falls used to be a site for an army camp during World War II.
Sunny Ravenshoe – what a surprise
Finally, we deserved a break so we went for coffee to Ravenshoe. The town presented itself completely different than a few weeks ago. This time without the fog, Ravenshoe lost its aura of mystery, and its outback character became finally visible.
The main street has five small shops, a hairdresser, a bakery and a pub. The pub decor remembered the stagecoaches passing in the past. We stopped at the bakery and ate delicious French pastries, beef pie, drank coffee, and moved on.
Driving through Tully Falls National Park
As we never like driving back the same way, we decided to drive through Tully Falls National Park and enjoy some nature.
So, only 3 km from Ravenshoe we turned right and later took Maalan Road and Sutties Gap Road that later joined Maple Creek Road and K-Tree Road. I was simply driving through dense rainforest, but we enjoyed it immensely.
It was an amazing adventure as the road was slightly wet and we raged through muddy puddles, often driving along narrow paths on the slope of high mountains overlooking the abyss.
We crossed many streams and creeks on the way. We stopped several times close to creeks to cool down and relax.
We also looked for the platypus, but, to be honest, without much enthusiasm. These hidden creatures flee from such a gang of barbarians as us. It takes a lot of patience and restrain to see them. We didn’t have either of them, so the problem was solved by itself.
The next day we drove 33 km north to Babinda. We read that Babinda Kayaking in Babinda Creek is great so we decided to spend the day paddling.
We had to drive up the stream to pick up the kayak. The kayaking started right at the back of the property. We were given kayaks, a life jacket for Nell, and off we went.
Babinda Creek happened to be very shallow with white sand at the bottom. In the beginning, I was even able to swim and snorkel for 200 meters as when we started the water was a bit deeper.
After my snorkelling, we paddled from one beautiful beach to another. We took breaks by jumping ashore and relaxing.
The weather was beautiful as lush vegetation was growing around the stream. It took us about 3 hours to cover this route. We landed at a safe distance from the crocodiles, at the bridge where Babinda Creek meets Bruce Highway.
We were told that only 2 km further down the creek the water is much deeper and crocodiles live there.
After we finish our puddling we made a phone call and in a moment a nice man picked us up and took us to our car.
It was an amazing adventure and I can recommend it to anyone!
We still had plenty of energy so we drove to The Boulders and later on Josephine Falls.
The Boulders are located at the edge of Wooroonooran National Park.
In appearance they are huge, granite boulders found in a green-blue Babinda Creek that look incredibly beautiful among the lush, tropical vegetation. It is also a popular swimming spot and picnic area. There are a few, short walking trails that we took.
The boulders are shaped by fast-flowing water during the wet season. The annual rain here is around 4500 mm, so you can imagine what happens here after a big rain.
Yidinjy people believe there is a story behind The Boulders creation but I will leave it to you to find out.
Spotting cassowary again
We also met our third cassowary. The situation itself looked quite funny.
While approaching The Boulders I asked Marius to drive a bit slower, because there is a lot of warnings that cassowaries are prowling around. He replied that these are only warning signs, next moment…
We saw a cassowary right around the bend. The bird was standing on the road or rather it walked to the other side in a dignified manner without much stress. So it is worth reading the warnings after all 🙂
Finally, on our last legs, we drove to Josephine Falls. The falls are located close to Bartle Frere, the highest peak in Queensland.
Josephine Falls starts at the top as a small trickle, but by the time it travels down it is a thundering torrent.
There was a 1.2 km walk to Josephine Falls that took us through the lush, heritage-listed rainforest to the viewing decks.
We had a nice swim and splash as the water was cooler.
After seeing it we agreed that these falls are in our opinion the most beautiful cascading waterfalls in Australia, right after Mitchell Falls.
Marius was delighted because the temperature was low and he could finally cool down.
We were also planning some fishing activities in the evening, but we returned too tired after paddling and other attractions. That’s fine – we can go fishing tomorrow.
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4WD Equipment Checklist
Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)
UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency
Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road
High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks
Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking
Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places