The Townsville region received quite a deluge between mid February and early March, after a dry start to what we hoped would be a good Wet. Green Path recently posted photos of the Town Common after rain, and here are some from Hervey’s Range to the West of the city.
The waterfall photo above is the first chronologically. It was taken by Steve Coleman about March 5 and shows the beautiful waterfall beside the road, halfway up the escarpment; his comment was that it hadn’t run this well for three years or more, and I can’t disagree. The others are my own, taken on a visit on March 13. By that time the waterfall was considerably reduced, although still beautiful:
Hervey’s Range Road crosses Two Mile Creek a couple of miles from the crest of the range and I took a couple of photos just upstream from the bridge. The first shows it in a very typical state – a clear stream, almost narrow enough to step across, in a broad sandy bed lined by mature trees.
My second photo, taken at the same time from a spot in the middle of the first, shows just how high the water had risen with recent rains. (Apologies for the image quality – I should have used my camera instead of my phone.) “Raging torrent” is a cliche, but I can think of no better description of what it must have been.
People around Townsville have been quoting a couple of lines of poetry lately, and it’s not hard to see why:
I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains, Of ragged mountain ranges, Of droughts and flooding rains.
My third visit to Wallaman Falls was a day trip with Wildlife Queensland. A full report will appear on their blog in due course but I thought I might quickly share this photo and mention my previous posts – from almost exactly one year ago and two years ago, as it happens. (This is a good time of year for camping and bushwalking, since everything is still quite green after the Wet but the weather is reliably fine and not too hot.)
I have added the spider and insect photos from this trip to my existing Wallaman Falls album on flickr.
Jourama is typical of the waterfalls which tumble off the edge of the Great Dividing Range between Townsville and Cairns. I have posted about Wallaman (very recently), Murray and Behana, and I have known and liked Jourama Falls for a very long time so I was surprised to find, when I checked, that I hadn’t already posted about them too.
The Jourama Falls section of the Paluma Range National Park (park information) is tucked into the northern end of the park (map), about an hour north of Townsville and only a few kilometres off the highway. The access road takes you to a peaceful swimming hole and picnic ground, then past a camping ground with the usual National Parks facilities to a carpark at the beginning of a walking track which winds along beside the rocky creek and up beside the waterfall itself. It’s all easy and pleasant, if not nearly as spectacular as Wallaman. In many ways it’s more comparable to Paradise Pool nearby: close to town and family-friendly.
I called in there for a break on my way back from Wallaman a couple of weeks ago and walked up to the lookout at the top of the track. My first photo is taken from there; the track doesn’t go as far as the top of the falls on the skyline.
I enjoyed Wallaman Falls so much last May that I returned last week. I introduced the Falls and the location quite fully last time and there’s no need to do it again, so this time I can focus on the walk down to the foot of the falls.
I didn’t tackle it last year but was more energetic this time and it was well worth the effort. The path from the Lookout runs for a few hundred metres along the edge of the escarpment then dives over the edge, zigzagging steeply through open woodland into rainforest and out onto the tumble of rocks at the bottom. Signs at the top warn that walkers need to be reasonably fit but it’s no tougher than (e.g.) the Castle Hill goat-tracks. Do take water, though, and expect the ascent to take an hour.
There are plenty of excuses to stop, if one wants to, because the constant spray encourages all sorts of growing things in the rainforest. There are lots of butterflies to watch, too, but the birds are more often heard than seen.
Signs beside the viewing platform at the bottom warn of the very real dangers of slippery jagged rocks and tell everyone not to venture further, but nearly everyone ignores them, clambering around for a better photo op. Some Darwin Award candidates even go for a swim; I guess most of them survive but they will need another swim anyway after getting back to the top.
Mountains march up the coast between Townsville and Cairns, with just a narrow strip of flat land between their feet and the sea. Onshore winds strike the ranges, dropping their load of moisture to form dozens of short creeks and rivers which pour off the steeper slopes as rapids and waterfalls. Driving up the highway one sees a series of brown ‘tourist’ signs pointing to them: Crystal Creek Falls, Jourama, Josephine, Wallaman, Murray, Behana and others, many surrounded by their own small National Parks (see map here for more information). We saw two new waterfalls on the weekend trip to Cairns (my excuse for a gap in posting here), Murray and Behana.
It is impossible to photograph the whole of Murray Falls from ground level because its three main sections can’t all be seen from any one vantage point, but it is a beautiful waterfall and is served by one of the prettiest camping grounds I’ve seen. My photo shows the middle section. The lower section is a short walk away, and there is a longer walk along a rainforest track to a viewing platform at the top of the upper section.
Behana Gorge is almost a local secret, tucked in behind Walsh’s Pyramid and poorly signposted. Access is very straightforward, with a short drive from the highway to the carpark and an easy but longish (3km each way) walk through tropical rainforest to the falls themselves along a service road which leads to a small dam just out of sight in my photo.
Green Path will have more to show and tell about both of these places when I have time.