Babinda Boulders is my family’s favourite swimming hole in the Cairns region.
Located about an hour’s drive south of Cairns, the Boulders lie at the foot of Bartle Frere, the highest mountain in Queensland at 1,622 metres (Hey! don't laugh - this is an ancient continent where the mountains have been worn down over many millions of years).
And this explains why the
water is always so cool (some might say chilly), even in the height of summer.
Photo courtesy of www.babindastatehotel.com.au
The public swimming area is right next to the car park and consists of a large pool, about 30 or 40 metres across (in the wet season).
Most of the swimming area is shallow (no more than waist-height for an adult) but there are some deep parts as well.
As you wade across the pool you’ll find yourself walking on sand or over large rounded pebbles.
The Queensland Parks Service has made this a very clean and user-friendly area – there are public toilets, cold showers, shaded picnic tables, gas BBQ’s, large grassed areas, and a swing-set.
In the shallow parts the water is crystal clear and in the deep parts it turns some beautiful shades of aqua-marine and even turquoise.
This is a very photogenic place, so do bring your camera!
There’s a bitumen walking track that follows the creek downstream from the main swimming area.
Follow this track for about 750 metres and you’ll come to viewing platforms that overlook the Devil’s Pool.
You’ll see a lot of signs warning the public to stay on the viewing platform and not to go beyond the platform barriers.
These warnings should be heeded. Since 1959 the Devil’s Pool has taken the lives of 17 people. The most recent fatality was a naval seaman who drowned here on November 30th 2008.
The Babinda Boulders feature prominently in a local Aboriginal legend about a beautiful young woman who was promised to a much older man.
But she fell in love with a handsome young man from a neighbouring tribe.
To escape the punishment they both would have received, the couple eloped and lived happily together in the rainforest.
It wasn’t long before the girl’s tribe caught up with them.
Seeing her young lover captured, she threw herself into the Devil’s Pool where she died.
Local Aboriginal people believe that her spirit guards the boulders. They say you can still hear the girl calling for her lover.
This legend has led some people to speculate that the girl in the legend is somehow linked to the various deaths that have happened here, since nearly all those who have died at the Devil’s Pool since 1959 have been young men.
But you shouldn’t let this stop you from swimming in the main swimming area near the car park, which is quite safe. On weekends you’ll see a half-a-dozen families swimming there, children and adults, happily enjoying the water.
The Parks Service has provided a ladder down to the swimming area and a small platform for getting in and out of the water.
The March flies (or horse flies) are quite bad here so make sure to bring insect repellent. Also, make sure to bring a towel – you’ll want to dry off quickly once you’re out of the cold water!
If there’s hardly anyone there, you may get to see turtles and eels. Platypus have also been seen in the swimming area, but you would have to be there when it’s very quiet indeed!
To get to Babinda Boulders, drive south from Cairns along the Bruce Highway for about an hour (58 kms) and then turn right into the town of Babinda.
Keep driving another 15 minutes (7 kms) and you’ll come to the
public car park next to the main swimming area.