Wallaman Falls

waterfall
Wallaman Falls from the lookout

Wallaman Falls are 268 metres in height, making them the highest permanent single-drop waterfall in Australia. The gorge below them is one limb of a branching network, the Herbert River and its tributaries, reaching up into the ranges North-west of Ingham. Stony Creek tumbles over the lip and the water picks up so much speed on the way down that it has drilled a hole twenty metres deep at the foot of the falls.

Wallaman-Mt-Fox-mapThe drive from Mount Fox (see previous post) to Wallaman Falls is not long on the map but includes a long winding road down the escarpment and an equally long, equally winding, but slightly wider, road back up to the top. Both boast spectacular views.

The road forks just over the crest; turn right for a short drive to the Wallaman Falls lookout or keep going straight ahead for an even shorter drive to the National Parks camping ground. The road ends a few hundred metres further on, continuing only as a walking track which is part of the Wet Tropics Great Walk (map, pdf).

There are several linked viewing areas at the lookout, some looking across the head of the gorge to the falls, as in my top picture, and others looking down the gorge towards the coast:

rainforested valley
The zig-zagging gorge downstream from Wallaman Falls

A steep walking track winds down into the gorge from the latter, into a dim environment eternally damp with spray from the falls. I didn’t make the effort this trip but remember it, from my only previous visit to the falls, as a place of slippery boulders, chilly mists and mossy trees; swimming is possible but discouraged. The swimming holes near the camping grounds are far better on all counts – prettier, safer, easier to get to, and with nicer picnic areas nearby. An 800 metre loop track through the lush tropical rainforest connects them to the camping ground.

Stony Creek swimming hole near the campground
Stony Creek swimming hole near the campground

This tranquil section of Stony Creek above the falls is home to turtles and platypus. I saw plenty of the former and I think I saw one of the latter but it was too far away to be sure.

two turtles
Saw-shelled Turtles in Stony Creek near the camping ground

Around the camping ground I saw lots of Scrub Turkeys (they were a bit of a pest, actually, continually threatening to make off with any food left unprotected) and one 1.5m goanna, more formally known as a Lace Monitor, Varanus varius. It was wandering around on the lawns when I returned to camp but unhurriedly climbed a tree when I approached.

black goanna
Lace monitor
goanna close-up
Keeping an eye on me

There was plenty of smaller wildlife, too – birds, insects and spiders – around the camping ground and in the rainforest nearby but I have put those photos in an album on flickr rather than here.

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