Behana Gorge is situated about a 30 minute drive south of Cairns and is one of the locals best kept secrets. Rarely visited by tourists as it requires a 45 minute walk each way with a good level of fitness, but don’t let this discourage you as it is well worth the trek when you are finally rewarded with pristine swimming holes, breathtaking views over rapidly raging water, and a stunning waterfall that flows into a deep granite gorge.
The gorge is part of the Cairns Regional Council water catchment area that sources fresh water from pristine rainforest, to areas south of Cairns as well as the Cairns city. A locked gate and signage mark the start of the 6km return walk. The track follows a sealed road and large water pipe that runs parallel to the gorge.
The track will take you through beautiful riparian eucalypt forest, it is undulating and quite steep in some places, but there are plenty of small creeks and waterholes along the way to have a rest stop and take time to enjoy the peace and serenity – perhaps spot some wildlife while you’re there too.
As you finally reach the end of the gorge the best is yet to come as Clamshell Falls emerges into sight – a perfectly painted picture of white water rapids, waterfalls and freshwater swimming holes. The gorge flows all year round, but is especially spectacular to visit in the wet season after a big downpour.
At the very top of the walk you will reach the council water intake facility, which is a good place for refreshment and cool down. From here there are tracks heading down to the creek. With some boulder hopping, you can get some amazing shots of the falls!
For those seeking adventure, there is ample opportunity to free climb the granite cliffs and take an exhilarating leap into the frosty waters, or simply take an enjoying slide down one of the more gentle waterfalls, but be very careful as the water can be strong and dangerous after rain. The walk back feels down hill although there are still a couple of good inclines to cover.
NEED TO KNOW:
The path is concrete so an easy walk that can be done in any weather, most of it is shaded. There are no facilities so bring water, snacks, sunscreen. Best to walk early morning or late afternoon away from the midday sun. It may be a little long for children so bring a stroller or be prepared to carry them!
Behana Gorge, Wooroonooran National Park, Queensland
Distance: 6 km return
Time: 90 mins
Nearest Town: Gordonvale, 9 km
Getting There: Head south from Cairns on the Bruce Highway past Gordonvale. Keep driving along the Bruce Highway and about 5km past the turn-off to the Gillies Highway turn right onto Behana Gorge Rd.