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About Barron Gorge

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Getting there and getting around

The upper section of the park is in the Atherton Tableland, overlooking Cairns, Queensland. Photo: Tourism Queensland.

The upper section of the park is in the Atherton Tableland, overlooking Cairns, Queensland. Photo: Tourism Queensland.

The Kuranda Scenic Railway travels through the park. Photo: Tourism Queensland.

The Kuranda Scenic Railway travels through the park. Photo: Tourism Queensland.

The lower section of the park encompasses the lower part of the Barron Gorge, Queensland. Photo: Tourism Queensland.

The lower section of the park encompasses the lower part of the Barron Gorge, Queensland. Photo: Tourism Queensland.

Maps

Upper (tableland) section

From Cairns, travel north along the Captain Cook Highway. Turn onto the Kennedy Highway, which winds up the coastal mountain range, and take the turn-off to Kuranda. Alternatively take the scenic railway that runs from Cairns to Kuranda or the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway from Smithfield, north of Cairns.

From Kuranda, drive 3.5 km along Barron Falls Road, following the signposts to the Barron Falls car park. This is the access to the Barron Falls lookout, which is also a stop on the scenic railway line. Wrights lookout (and the start of the Surprise Creek walk) is a further 1.4 km along the road from the car park.

The upper section of the park can also be accessed from Speewah Regional Park, a starting point for long-distance walks. From Kuranda, travel a further 6.5 km along the Kennedy Highway, turn left into Speewah Road and follow the signs to Speewah Regional Park for 5.2 km.

Lower (coastal) section

From Cairns, drive 16 km north along the Captain Cook Highway and turn left onto Cairns Western Arterial (Kamerunga Road) at the roundabout.

To access Lake Placid and the lower Barron Gorge, drive 2.5 km then turn right onto Lake Placid Road. Continue 1.5 km to Lake Placid or take the Barron Gorge Road turn-off and drive a further 3 km into the gorge. This scenic road ends at the bridge to the Barron Gorge Hydro-Power Station.

To access Stoney Creek, from the roundabout on the Captain Cook Highway drive 3.5 km along the Cairns Western Arterial (Kamerunga Road) and turn right onto Stoney Creek Road. The Smith track trailhead is on the left, 1 km from the turn-off. Follow the road for 2.1 km through the residential area to the car park and the start of the Garndal Garndal Stoney Creek walk and the Douglas track trailhead.

Wheelchair accessibility

Din Din Barron Falls boardwalk, lookouts and toilets are suitable for wheelchair access with assistance. The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway has wheelchair-accessible facilities.

Park features

Barron Falls, Queensland, is a major feature of the park. Photo: Tourism Queensland.

Barron Falls, Queensland, is a major feature of the park. Photo: Tourism Queensland.

The park features lush, often mist-shrouded, tropical rainforest. Photo: Tourism Queensland.

The park features lush, often mist-shrouded, tropical rainforest. Photo: Tourism Queensland.

Barron Gorge National Park extends from the coastal lowlands to the elevated regions of the Atherton Tableland and features rugged mountain scenery, tropical rainforests, diverse wildlife and a fascinating history. The park lies within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

The Barron River dominates the park. Rising from the rainforests of Mount Hypipamee National Park, the river winds 60 km across the Atherton Tableland through one of Australia's highest rainforest belts. The river then enters the deeply-incised Barron Gorge, which forms a rugged, twisting trough between the Macalister and Lamb ranges. The river falls 250 m onto the narrow coastal lowlands and flows to the Coral Sea, just north of the Cairns Airport. During the wetter months, floodwaters regularly create a spectacular sight at Barron Falls.

The park is part of the traditional lands of the Djabugandji Bama (local Aboriginal people) who maintain a close spiritual connection with this country. Before Europeans arrived, Bama traversed this country, developing trails linking the coast to the uplands. These historic trails now form sections of a walking track network.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

Camping is not permitted in Barron Gorge National Park. A camping area is provided in Speewah Regional Park adjacent to the park's western boundary.

Other accommodation

There is a range of holiday accommodation in and around Kuranda, Mareeba and Cairns. For more information see the tourism information links.

Things to do

View Barron Falls from Din Din Barron Falls lookout. Photo: Greg Watson.

View Barron Falls from Din Din Barron Falls lookout. Photo: Greg Watson.

Lianas drape across the boardwalk at Din Din Barron Falls lookout. Photo: Greg Watson.

Lianas drape across the boardwalk at Din Din Barron Falls lookout. Photo: Greg Watson.

Keep an eye out for the fascinating 'park art' in the park. Photo: NPRSR.

Keep an eye out for the fascinating 'park art' in the park. Photo: NPRSR.

Enjoy the tranquil pools of Stoney Creek. Photo: Stella Martin.

Enjoy the tranquil pools of Stoney Creek. Photo: Stella Martin.

Experience secluded rainforest at Suprise Creek. Photo: WTMA.

Experience secluded rainforest at Suprise Creek. Photo: WTMA.

Short walks, upper section

The short walks provided in the lower and upper sections of the park are described below.

Din Din Barron Falls lookout (Grade: easy)

Distance: 1.2 km return

Time: Allow about 40 mins walking time

Details: An elevated, wheelchair-accessible (with assistance) boardwalk suspended high above the forest floor winds through lush, rainforest canopy to the Barron Falls lookouts and Barron Falls railway platform. Enjoy views over the gorge and spectacular Barron Falls. Watch the gondolas on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway glide above the far-side of the gorge and, twice each day, watch the Kuranda Scenic Railway tourist train pull into the platform below. Toilets are located in the car park.

Wrights lookout (Grade: easy)

Distance: 3 km return

Time: Allow about 1 hr walking time

Details: From the Barron Falls car park, walk along Wrights lookout road to Wrights lookout, which offers wide-ranging vistas over Barron Gorge, towards the city of Cairns and the coast. Return along the same track.

Surprise Creek walk (Grade: moderate)

Distance: 2.8 km return

Time: Allow about 1.5 hrs walking time

Details: From Wrights lookout, this walk follows the first section of the McDonalds track, part of the long-distance walking track network. The walk follows a service road with moderate grades and a rough slippery surface. Rainforest gives way to open woodland before the track descends steeply to Surprise Creek. Upstream from the bridge there are deep, clear pools and tumbling rapids. The walk returns along the same track.

Short walks, lower section

Stoney Creek Garndal Garndal track (Grade: easy)

Distance: 2 km return

Time: Allow about 30 mins walking time

Details: From the car park at the end of Stoney Creek Road (the Stoney Creek trailhead), this rough track climbs up through Stoney Creek gorge, beside Stoney Creek, to the causeway at the old weir. The track is unformed with a rough, uneven surface of rocks and twisted tree roots. The walk passes clear limpid pools and small waterfalls before ending on a large boulder overlooking the creek, just downstream of the weir. Take care near the weir access. Return along the same track.

Long distance walks

For more adventurous and well-prepared walkers, a network of walking tracks provides long distance walks between the three main trailheads (Kamerunga, Kuranda and Speewah) within the park.

Picnic and day-use areas

Picnic tables are provided at Lake Placid in the lower section and at Wrights lookout in the upper section of the park.

Boating

Commercial operators provide rafting experiences on the Barron River. Rafting is a low-impact, environmentally-friendly activity that allows visitors to experience the less accessible areas of the lower gorge.

Commercial operators provide scenic boat tours on the Barron River in the upper section of the park. Private canoeing and kayaking is also an enjoyable way to experience the Barron River within the park.

For more information, see the tourism information links. Fishing is not permitted in Barron Gorge National Park.

Viewing wildlife

The park is a natural corridor for wildlife, linking the northern and southern sections of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. The diverse landscape and vegetation types support a rich variety of animals, including possums, tree-kangaroos, flying-foxes and spotted-tailed quolls. There is an abundance of brightly-coloured birds and butterflies that contrast with the lush, green rainforest, including the brilliant-blue Ulysses butterfly. Lucky visitors may even see the endangered southern cassowary, a large, flightless bird standing up to 2 m tall. Reptiles, fish, and frogs are also plentiful.

  • See the description of the park's natural environment for more details about Barron Gorge National Park’s diverse wildlife.

Other things to do

Barron Gorge Hydro-Power Station

Barron Gorge Hydro-Power Station was Australia's first underground power station, built in 1935 to harness the immense power of water flowing over Barron Falls. Construction of Tinaroo Dam, a weir at Kuranda and a larger, more recent hydro-electric power station, have significantly reduced the water volume over the falls.

To reach the station, walk or drive 3 km along the scenic Barron Gorge Road from Lake Placid to the picnic area and cross the bridge. For more information about the Barron Gorge Hydro-Power Station visit the Stanwell website

Lake Placid (Nani)

Stroll along the bank beside the lake—actually part of the Barron River—for scenic views of the steep, forested slopes of the lower Barron Gorge and the white-water rapids of the Barron River. Enjoy a picnic in the shade. Be crocwise—estuarine crocodiles are found in the lower Barron River, including Lake Placid.

Kuranda Scenic Railway

The 34 km Kuranda Scenic Railway runs through the park and is considered a remarkable engineering feat. Built between 1882 and 1891, the railway has 15 hand-made tunnels and around 40 bridges. For more information see the tourism information links.

Skyrail rainforest cableway

This tourist cableway transports visitors over the park’s rainforest canopy, travelling 7.5 km from the lower section of the park at Caravonica to the upper section of the park at Kuranda on the Atherton Tableland. For more information see the tourism information links.

Djabugay Aboriginal guided tours

Djabugay Aboriginal guides offer walking tours of the rainforest as part of the Skyrail experience, sharing their knowledge about Barron Gorge National Park. For more information see the tourism information links.

Things to know before you go

Come prepared with suitable clothing and footwear for rainforest walks. Photo: Julie Swartz, NPRSR.

Come prepared with suitable clothing and footwear for rainforest walks. Photo: Julie Swartz, NPRSR.

Essentials to bring

To ensure a safe and enjoyable visit always bring:

  • a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and insect repellent
  • sturdy, reliable footwear
  • drinking water
  • rubbish bags.

Opening hours

Barron Gorge National Park is open 24 hours a day.

Permits and fees

Permits are required for commercial or organised activities. Contact us for further information.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted in Barron Gorge National Park.

Climate and weather

Barron Gorge National Park has a tropical climate. In summer, maximum temperatures range from 27 °C to 33 °C with high humidity. Between December and April, there are frequent heavy downpours of rain and the possibility of thunderstorms and tropical cyclones.

Although you can visit the park all year round, the cooler, drier months of the year (from May to September) are the best times to visit. The weather is warm with reduced humidity and average maximum temperatures of 26 °C.

Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

For more information see the tourism information links.

Fuel and supplies

Fuel and supplies are available nearby at Kuranda, Smithfield, Cairns and Mareeba. For more information see the tourism information links.

Staying safe

Stinging trees can be present along track edges in disturbed rainforest. Photo: NPRSR.

Stinging trees can be present along track edges in disturbed rainforest. Photo: NPRSR.

Cassowaries may be encountered in the park. Photo: Greg Watson.

Cassowaries may be encountered in the park. Photo: Greg Watson.

Take some simple precautions to ensure a safe, enjoyable visit:

  • Keep on the walking tracks and boardwalks at all times.
  • Always carry water, wear hats, sunscreen and sturdy footwear.
  • Stay clear of the edge of the gorge and steep rock faces, and take care on uneven, slippery track surfaces, especially when wet.
  • Be aware that stinging trees are found alongside many walking tracks. They grow to 4 m high and have large, heart-shaped leaves with serrated edges. Do not touch this plant as it may result in a very painful sting.
  • Cassowaries are potentially dangerous. Avoid unnecessary risks and help protect cassowaries—be cass-o-wary.

Be crocwise

Estuarine crocodiles live in waterways of the lower section of the Barron Gorge National Park. Estuarine crocodiles are potentially dangerous. Never take unnecessary risks in crocodile habitat. You are responsible for your own safety—always be crocwise in croc country.

For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

Looking after the park

Spectacularly flowering flame tree in the rainforest. Photo: Greg Watson.

Spectacularly flowering flame tree in the rainforest. Photo: Greg Watson.

  • Domestic animals are not permitted in national parks. Leave all pets at home.
  • Rubbish bins are not provided—take rubbish with you when you leave.
  • Do not remove plant material, living or dead.
  • Avoid interfering with, or feeding, native animals.
  • Do not fossick in, take from, or cause damage to cultural sites.
  • Remember that fishing is not allowed.

See the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.

Myrtle rust

Myrtle rust—a fungal disease affecting many native plants—has been found in Barron Gorge National Park. The disease poses a significant threat to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Follow these guidelines to help prevent its spread:

  • Do not collect or move plant material, living or dead.
  • Always stay on walking track to reduce contact with infected plants.
  • Avoid contact with infected plants as this may spread spores.
  • Go clean—clean your vehicle and hiking equipment (including clothes and footwear) when you leave the park, or as soon as you arrive home. Remove soil, leaves and mud and clean with water and detergent.

Learn more about myrtle rust and how to minimise its spread.

Park management

Barron Gorge National Park is managed by the Traditional Owners, the Djabugay people, and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS). A formal Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) has been registered to ensure that park management and native title interests are properly integrated. Read the description of the park's nature, culture and history for more information about the native title determination of the park. This national park is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

Tourism information links

Cairns and Tropical North Visitor Information Centre
www.cairnsgreatbarrierreef.org.au 
51 The Esplanade, Cairns, QLD 4870
Phone: (07) 4051 3588
Email: info@ttnq.org.au

Kuranda Visitor Information Centre
www.kuranda.org
Centenary Park, Coondoo St, Kuranda Qld 4881
Phone: (07) 4093 9311
Email: info@kuranda.org

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
www.skyrail.com.au
Phone: (07) 4038 1555
Email: mail@skyrail.com.au

Kuranda Scenic Railway
www.ksr.com.au
Phone: (07) 4036 9333

Barron Gorge Hydro-Power Station
www.stanwell.com
Phone: (07) 4036 6955

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.

Further information

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Last updated
8 October 2013