On the footstep of the Great Barrier Reef, the Crater Lakes National Park provides a unique weekend escape for those visiting the Cairns region. The main attractions of the park are the crater lakes, called Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine. Their surrounding lush rainforests are bursting with some 286 species of fauna. The lakes will not disappoint, and the cooler climate provides respite from the humid coast.
Swimming is popular at both Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine, and there are several mountain biking trails nearby. With parts of the tablelands included in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, the whole area is bursting with tropical wildlife, some surprising such as the fascinating Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo, while others simply annoying such as the stinging tree, and the best way to discover it is by foot or bike.
Yungaburra, the heart of the tablelands, is a picturesque village filled with charming cafes and 18 heritage-listed buildings.
Walking trails in Crater Lakes National Park
Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine are volcanically formed, clear blue lakes, surrounded by dense rainforest and 2.8km and 5km easy round circuit walking trails. Walkers will be amazed by the abundance of wildlife found around the lakes, with plenty of bird watching and trackside wildlife such as black snakes.
Mountain biking in Crater Lakes
The new Mountain Bike Trail in Atherton offers a 6km track at Ridgey Didge, suitable for beginners wanting some off-road action. Many of the bitumen roads are also popular for riders.
Spot Crater Lakes National Park's amazing wildlife
Wildlife on the tablelands is like none other. By day, wildlife spotting may involve the Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo, the stunning blue Ulysses butterfly or platypus in Peterson Creek. By night, a multitude cryptic species inhabit the tablelands, including many frogs and rare possums, such as the green ringtail possum and the striped possum. The now elusive white lemuroid ringtail possum was previously found here but has been driven close to extinction by climate change, termed the Australian version of the “face of global extinction in climate change’’.
Location: Yungaburra is roughly 60km southwest of Cairns, about an hour drive.
Accommodation: A large range of accommodation is available in Yungaburra and camping is popular.
Food/Drink:There is no shortage of cafes in Yungaburra and a well-stocked IGA. Larger supermarkets can be found in nearby Atherton. Farmers markets are held weekly in one of the nearby towns.
Points of Interest: The enormous twin kauri pines at Lake Barrine are not to be missed. Watch out for the wait-a-whiles, which entangle passers-by with their barbed canes, and the large heart-shaped leaves of the painful stinging tree.
Maps: Available at www.nprsr.qld.gov.au and the local visitor centre.