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Babinda Boulders in Cairns, Australia

Surrounded by lush rainforest, the Babinda Boulders is a popular swimming hole and tourist attraction south of Cairns. It is a classic example of the fast flowing tropical creeks in the area that are perfect for afternoon dips in the cool water to combat the tropical heat.

A Swimming Hole at Babinda Boulders
A Swimming Hole at Babinda Boulders

The creek is lined with huge boulders and the clear fresh water weaves between the obstacles to fill large pools where people can swim. Visitors to the Babinda Boulders are often amazed that the water is quite cool, even during mid-summer.

Just behind The Boulders is Mt Bartle Frere, Queensland's tallest mountain, from which Babinda Creek's cool water originates. The section of the creek where the water rushes over massive granite boulders, smoothing and shaping them, is referred to as The Babinda Boulders.

The Devil's Pool Legend

Overlooking the fast flowing water
Overlooking the fast flowing water

The Babinda Boulders is not just a beautiful swimming hole, but the area also holds great significance for local Aboriginal people.

According to legend a beautiful girl named Oolana, from the Yidinji people, married a respected elder from her tribe named Waroonoo. Shortly after their union another tribe moved into the area and a handsome young man came into her life. 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.

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

Safety at Babinda Boulders

Gentle rapids surrounded by rainforest
Gentle rapids surrounded by rainforest

While swimming at the Boulders, it is important to be safety conscious and not take risks. The fast flowing water of the Devil's Pool has taken 15 lives since 1959. These victims have mostly been young men behaving carelessly who ventured too close to the deceptive currents and rocks. This tragedy must be avoided so please be careful.

But don't let that put you off! It is a beautiful place and with common sense it is very safe. Stick to the designated swimming pools, and you'll be able to enjoy the Babinda Boulders just like the locals have been for years. If you have been driving for many hours along the highway, or are just in need of a refreshing swim, the Boulders are a wonderful treat.

How to get to Babinda Boulders

The Boulders are located 7 kilometres from Babinda and 58km south of Cairns.

Drive to The Boulders

From Cairns head south along the Bruce Highway for about 1 hour and turn right into the town of Babinda. Road signs then direct the way to the swimming hole.

The drive between Cairns and Babinda passes through spectacular mountainous scenery and luscious rainforest as well as sugar and banana farming communities. Queensland's two highest mountains; Mt Bartle Frere and Mt Bellenden Ker are both visible along the drive.

The township of Babinda is worth a look at while you're in the area. Although it may look like yet another sleepy country town, Babinda does have some interesting facts

  • Many of North Queensland's best artists choose to call Babinda home
  • The rainforest surrounding Babinda is kept lush and verdant due to Babinda's high annual rainfall
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