Box jellyfish, crocodiles, Irikundji….when I visit Far North Queensland (especially in the wet season) there’s too many things in the ocean to worry about for a swim to be a relaxing dip. But some locals told us about a hidden secret where you can enjoy a refreshing freshwater swim, without the croc and stinger fear…Crystal Cascades, Cairns.
Crystal Cascades is one of those places you only ever find out about from a North Queensland local…and then they probably wish they hadn’t told you, as they want to keep it all to themselves! As it is only accessible by a 19 km self-drive (or cycle) from Cairns, you won’t find hoardes of visitors there, just the lucky ones.
Crystal Cascades consists of a series of small waterfalls flowing over granite boulders into large pools and all hidden away in a tropical rainforest which makes it a shady and refreshing place to gain some respite from Far North Queensland heat and humidity. And best of all…no stingers or crocodiles to worry about! (Although, being a natural water body, you do need to be aware of risks from insects, snakes, and venomous fish…nothing is perfect.) 🙂
Crystal Cascades is a deep and narrow gorge section of Freshwater Creek which has its origins in Lake Morris, in the Lamb Ranges. Lake Morris is a freshwater dam lake which forms the main water supply source for the city of Cairns.
From the car park, there’s a walkway alongside the creek for about 1.2kms, through rainforest. At several points along this path there are steps leading down to plunge pools within the creek.
Between each pool is a series of waterfalls and rapids, as the creek flows over and around granite rocks. In a couple of places, the pools are edged by high cliff faces, and despite the clear signage stating that jumping off is not safe, several people were doing so.
The largest of the swimming holes is at the end of the walkway, and this is where we found the infamous “No Fear” jump in the photo below – people climb up the rocks above the waterfall, then jump into the waterhole below. This is absolutely NOT a recommended activity. As we scrambled over the rocks to reach the centre of that pool to swim, we realised just how close to the surface many of the submerged rocks are.
Apparently, there have been several accidents here over the years. Read and take heed of the signage – swim only and take especial care when walking over the slippery rocks.
There are also BBQs, picnic tables and toilets near the carpark. You could definitely bring a picnic and spend the whole day relaxing in this tropical paradise and enjoying a dip in the cool waters of the various plunge pools.
How to get to Crystal Cascades, Cairns
There is no public transport to the pools – you need to drive or cycle for almost 20km. Head out of Cairns centre to the suburb of Redlynch, then follow the road signage.
If you were tempted to get a taxi up there, make sure you’ve pre-arranged your return trip, as we found mobile phone coverage to be very patchy and you may well find yourself up the creek without a paddle so to speak.
Facilities at Crystal Cascades Park
- Drinking water
- Picnic shelter
- Picnic table
- Walking track
- No dogs allowed
See more at: www.cairns.qld.gov.au/region/things-to-do/