Amazing Kearneys Falls and Cattana Wetlands

Cattana Wetlands

In our second week in Cairns, we still had a few places to see. Our plan was to visit Kearneys Falls, Cattana Wetlands, and Barron Gorge Hydro Station. But let’s start from the beginning.

After six months of travelling and at least visiting thirty different pools, I must finally say that Nell had made great progress in swimming. Since she got swimming goggles, they practice snorkelling every day and I hope I will finally be able to get them to the reef.

Crepes for breakfast and off we go

We had this tradition that every Sunday Marius was preparing pancakes (crapes to be more precise) and this Sunday it was no different.

Thus, in the morning we had Marius’s famous pancakes for breakfast, this time with fruit and cottage cheese, and cinnamon. Man, he just surpassed himself, I can safely say that they were delicious.

Hema - Queensland

Hema’s HX-2 Navigator

Explore Australia with Hema’s HX-2 Navigator, the ultimate GPS system for on and off-road navigation.

Hema HX-2 Navigator
Pancakes (crepes) for breakfast
Pancakes (crepes) for breakfast

Lake Placid Recreation Park

After such a well-started day we were ready for another adventure. We started with Lake Placid – the name is a bit sweet as there is no lake there, 

It is actually a recreation park where you can have a picnic and relax.

We only saw a picturesque river that you can approach at your own risk (crocodiles), and many picnic tables just a few meters from the river.

Lake Placid Recreation Park
Lake Placid Recreation Park

We fed ducks for a while and continued upstream to the Barron Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station.

Barron Gorge Hydro Power Station

After a short drive on Barron Gorge Road, we arrived at the car park that was located in the east part of Barron River. To get to the hydroelectric power station building we had to cross a high bridge on foot.

It was a great time to take photos. Only there was not much water flowing yet.

Once we crossed the bridge and entered the building, inside we watched a movie about how a hydropower plant works. It turned out that this inconspicuous river powers 36,000 homes in Cairns and is 100 percent ecological. It was commissioned in 1963.

Barron Gorge Hydro Power Station
Barron Gorge Hydro Power Station – crossing the bridge

An interesting fact is that the water is captured at Kuranda Weir (top of the Barron River) in a big pipe and transported underground to the Barron Gorge Hydro.

As Barron Gorge is in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, the water must be returned back to the river in pristine condition as it entered the power station.

Barron Gorge Hydro does not emit any greenhouse gases. We should have more power stations like this.

Barron Gorge Hydro Power Station
Barron Gorge Hydro Power Station – view from the bridge

Surprise Creek Falls

On the way back, out from the bridge, we could also admire a waterfall the aptly named Surprise Creek Falls.

It is actually not on any map and it was a big ‘surprise’ to us. The waterfall itself is high (234 m) and looks charming among the naked rocks entwined with a rainforest. I took some photos just in case because I don’t know when I’ll see it again.

Barron Gorge Hydro Power Station
Barron Gorge Hydro Power Station – Surprise Creek Falls

Yorkeys Knob

After seeing Barron Gorge Hydro Station we changed our direction and drove to the seaside. We wanted to see some beaches and luxurious suburbs by the sea. 

Yorkeys Knob is a coastal suburb of Cairns. Mostly it is low-lying terrain with the exception of Yorkeys Knob which is 60 meters above sea level. It is a sleepy little neighbourhood at the foot of the knob with several million-dollar villas built on top of it. So Port Douglas, only on a smaller scale.

Yorkers Knob - Google Maps
Yorkers Knob – Google Maps

We spent some time at Yorkeys Knob beach playground, so Nell also had something to enjoy. On the way out we drove to the top of Yorkeys Knob to see the houses around.

Cattana Wetlands

On the way back, only 4 km from Yorkeys Knob we stopped at Cattana Wetlands. We love birds and places like this are always on our list.

It turned out that the city bought this land as a sugar cane plantation several years ago. Later, it was used as a sand mining quarry and finally transformed into a conservation park with a 420 meters boardwalk that is called now Cattana Wetlands.

Cattana Wetlands
Cattana Wetlands

Cattana Wetlands is a place with feather palm forest, freshwater, and saltwater lakes with many birds and animals that inhabit this area.

Later we found out that sand from Cattana Wetlands (I mean before it was transformed to wetlands), was used to build Cairns Lagoon.

We managed to spot Jacana looking for a meal on water lilies, and also a green ants tree house made of glued eucalyptus leaves (the green ants that taste like lemon and you can eat them!).

Green ants tree nest
Green ants tree nest

Cairns Lagoon

After spending a good hour at Cattana Wetlands, it was getting late but we decided to stop at Cairns Lagoon to enjoy the rest of the evening. Cairns is such a place where water is always warm and swimming in pools is always possible (not rivers – crocs).

Cairns Lagoon is a 4800 sqm saltwater pool that offers all-year-round safe swimming away from stingers and crocodiles. It is actually a little water park where kids can have real fun.

Cairns Lagoon
Cairns Lagoon

Cairns Lagoon is surrounded by nearby restaurants and coffee shops. Along the shore, there is a promenade where you can walk and enjoy the views.

We spent a few hours at Cairns Lagoon until it got dark. We came back very tired, but not so much we would not be able to jump into the pool for a while.

Overnight it rained heavily. Our neighbours got flooded and in the morning they were drying bedding on the surrounding palm trees. We considered it as a great opportunity to go for a drive to Kearneys Falls and see if the water in rivers and waterfalls had increased.

Kearneys Falls

Kearneys Falls is located 42 km south of Cairns, past Gordonvale.

Only six kilometers south from Gordonvale we turned to Goldsborough Road that was bitumen and later changed to gravel. 

The drive through Goldsborough Valley was very picturesque. There were beautiful green estates with houses built on the hills. We were amazed at how some people live there.

At the end of the road, there was a big campground with river access. This time of the year we only found very few people as the wet season was coming and fewer tourists were visiting the rainforest.

Kearneys Falls
Kearneys Falls

Immediately after we left the car we were attacked by march flies.

They do bite so we quickly used bushman and started the walk. 

You have to know that march flies have a spade-like mouthpart that once injected into your body can be very painful. Also, the problem with them is once you kill a few (they are very slow), it smell attracts more march flies. True fact!

Kearneys Falls
Kearneys Falls – walking through the dense forest

We headed for the 1.2 km rainforest walk. The trail was soaked with water like a sponge. In some places, we were walking on a carpet of withered leaves and our shoes were sagging in this quagmire. Without any problems soon we arrived at Kearneys Falls.

Kearneys Falls happened to be a wide, kind of horizontal waterfall that flows through the rainforest. Unfortunately, there was only some water flowing on the left side, but I can’t imagine what happens here after a big rain.

The thing with waterfalls is this. Waterfalls can be easily accessed in the dry season but there is no water. They look most spectacular in the wet season but normally all the roads are blocked with flooding waters. Either way, you can never have everything!

Nell packed our lunch

The first time Nell took her backpack with lunch packed inside and bravely walked with it. When we got to Kearneys Falls she was so proud that she carried it all the way up and now she could give it to us. 

It was quite a challenge for such a toddler because she packed everything in the morning herself without any help (defrosting my fridge too). As a result, she packed biscuits, grapes, chocolate biscuits, and peanuts.

Kearneys Falls
Eating lunch that Nell prepared herself at Kearneys Falls

She was so proud of herself that she made sure we eat it all. The mix was explosive but it didn’t end up upsetting our stomachs. 

It was nice to see how quickly kids are growing.

From red dirt to tropical rainforest. Ten places anyone should add to their bucket list. Subscribe and receive ten colourful infographics.

Please subscribe to receive our monthly newsletter

Did you like our content?

Buy Me A Coffee

Read more from our guides

Learn how to start a travel blog like this (step by step guide)

Learn more about off-road driving from our guide

Learn 11 Tips about outback camping from our guide

Learn about bush cooking from our ultimate guide

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *