Babinda Boulders | Cairns – Complete Guide 2020

babinda boulders

You may or may not be aware that there is a local legend about Babinda Boulders, or more specifically, ‘The Devil’s Pool’.  The legend tells a scary story about death and bodies not being recovered after they disappear under water.

You could be scientific and blame the extremely strong currents and the foolhardy nature of young men or you can try to believe this…..

The Aboriginal Legend Of Babinda Boulders

Aborignal legend tells the story of a girl named Oolana, from the Yidinji people.  She was married before another man caught her eye. His name was Dyga and the pair soon fell in love. Realising the adulterous crime they were committing, the young lovers escaped their tribes and fled into the valleys. The elders captured them, but Oolana broke free from her captors and threw herself into the still waters of what is now known as Babinda Boulders, calling for Dyga to follow her. 

As Dyga hit the waters, her anguished cries for her lost lover turned the still waters into a rushing torrent and the land shook with sorrow. Huge boulders were scattered around the creek and the crying Oolana disappeared among them.  Dyga was recovered unharmed, though Oolana was never seen again.

Aboriginal legend says her spirit still guards the boulders and that her calls for her lost lover can still be heard.

The link between this and the 15 recorded deaths since 1959 at Babinda Boulders, is that 14 of those deaths were young males.   Many people believe that the spirit of Oolana is still searching for her lover and mistakenly takes young men to the depths with her.

There was one recorded case where a young couple were standing on a rock before the water rapidly rose and swept them off into the water.  Many witnesses made statements that the water level must have risen at least one meter in less than 15 seconds. The young lady survived, though the body of the young man was never recovered.

Where is Babinda Boulders

The boulders are located 58km south of Cairns, which takes about an hour to drive.  Just head south along the highway and keep your eyes peeled for signs towards the town of Babinda.  The local council has the boulders really well signed, so you really shouldn’t be able to get lost on the way to Babinda Boulders.

Babinda Boulders Free Camping

The local council provides a free camping area right next to the boulders park.  This camping area is perfect for RV’s, Caravans, Campervans and even tents. The camping area is un-powered and does not require bookings or permits.  Just show up, find a spot and pitch your tent.  

There are public (cold) showers, toilets and a couple of BBQ’s.

This campsite will rarely get busy, as locals don’t tend to take families here due the the number of tourists that visit daily.  If you are leaving Cairns and heading south in your camper van then this is probably the most perfect place to stop for a night if it’s hot.  In winter, just keep driving because the water is way too cold to swim.

Are there crocodiles at Babinda Boulders?

No.  There are no crocs here, well not at the moment.  Let me know if you see one!

Are dogs allowed at Babinda Boulders?

Same as the crocs, the answer is no.  This is really well maintained and protected national park.  There are so many native animals walking around that dogs would simply scare off.  So leave your doggo at home for this trip.

Can you swim at Babinda Boulders?

Yes, you certainly can.  We advise staying clear of ‘The Devils’ Pool’ though.  There are plenty of much safer, super nice swimming areas.  Just check the currents and like always, don’t jump off rocks or cliffs, unless you know how deep the water is and what the underwater currents are doing down there.

When should you go to Babinda Boulders?

When it’s hot!  The water flows down from the Atherton Tablelands and is very cold.  For this reason, it’s a great place to cool off in the water surrounded by rainforest.  In winter, the water level will often be low and if you get in the water, you just might catch pneumonia.

Avoid heading here on public holidays and through the summer school holidays if you don’t like crowds or children.  To beat the children though, just go early. We all know families with kids run late to everything!

Babinda Boulders Walking Tracks

From the main car park you can walk down and check out the infamous Devils’ Pool.  This is a 1.3km return walk along an undulating bitumen path. The rainforest you walk through on this track is the real hero.  There is such a beautiful array of native flora that is perhaps made even more impressive by the juxtaposition of the bitumen weaving through it.

The Wonga Track Rainforest Circuit is an 850 metre loop walk which begins by crossing the creek on the suspension bridge from the picnic area. This one is a very level, dirt track.  There are plenty of safe swimming holes and again beautiful trees everywhere you look.

Behind the kids playground you can also find one end of the Goldfield Trail, which heads right up into the Goldsborough Valley.  This trail is 19.5km each way. Check back soon for a blog post about this trail once we have done it.

Safety and Warning Signs

There are council warning signs everywhere here reminding us of the lives lost and the dangers of the currents.  Please pay attention to them. In addition to the signs it’s good to remember that everything here is slippery. By this I mean, the rocks are already smooth, so a small amount of water on it and it will turn to ice.  

If you are enjoying a few beers here then firstly, please take your rubbish home.  Secondly, just remember that alcohol makes us athletically fearless champions while actually inhibiting our physical abilities.  Watch your mates, don’t let them become a statistic.   

Babinda Boulders Summary

We love this place.  It’s got that spooky feeling with a warm, tropical summer vibe.  A beer or two with some mates and an inflatable pool toy, really makes this a day to remember.

Mt Bartle Frere WW2 Plane Crash Memorial

At the boulders there is a lovely memorial for seven people who lost their lives on the 21st of April 1942.  I put this at the end of the post, as war history may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I have included this piece in this post to pay my respect to those people who passed away while protecting Australia.  Lest We Forget.

The story goes like this….

“ Japan’s first attack on New Guinea was made on the 21st April 1942 and by mid-February it’s thrust had taken it as far south as Rabaul.  Japan’s goal was to take Port Moresby which would then allow it to attack northern Queensland from the air.

In March 1942, a United States air base was constructed at Charters Towers to provide an inland airstrip to fly into New Guinea.  Amongst the aircraft at the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) air base were 15 new B25c Mitchell Bombers. In early April they mounted a raid from Charters Towers into the Philippines via Darwin and, in the same month, were involved in bombing, strafing and reconnaissance work in New Guinea.

USAAF aircraft #112455 took part in early April raids on the Philippines and into New Guinea to support Australian troops in the area.  At sunset on the 21st of April 1942, the aircraft was returning from New Guinea to Charters Towers when it encountered severe tropical monsoonal weather and rain as it approached Mt. Bartle Frere.  The aircraft crashed into the side of the mountain and the seven man crew were killed instantly.”

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