About Barron Falls
Barron Falls was once a mighty 131m waterfall descending from the Atherton Tablelands towards the Barron Gorge and lowlands near Cairns.
These days most of the falls was diverted for hydroelectricity and hence the falls appeared to us as nothing more than smaller strands of water weaving between the natural grooves within the exposed bedrock during our early Dry Season visits.
We’ve witnessed the waterfall in May 2008 as well as June 2022, but in both instances, the falls was nothing close to the monsoonal flooded state that the post cards and advertisements would show.
Therefore, I have to believe that the full flow state would only occur directly in the Wet Season, especially during or immediately after heavy rains.
Over our visits, we’ve experienced this waterfall in a couple of different ways, which I’ll get into a bit more below.
Experiencing Barron Falls Via The Kuranda Scenic Railway
In May 2008, Julie and I experienced Barron Falls as part of the Kuranda Scenic Railway.
On that excursion, we basically didn’t need to drive as we were shuttled from Cairns to the town of Kuranda before taking the scenic railway back down towards Cairns.
It was during the railway stretch that they made a stop at one of the stations for just long enough to allow us to briefly walk to the Barron Falls Lookout and take in the views before resuming the rail journey.
The scenic rail tour then went into more remote parts of the Barron Gorge National Park and the northern fringes of Dinden National Park before crossing the Stoney Creek Gorge.
This tressel bridge traverse happened right in front of the Stoney Creek Falls, which was kind of a bonus waterfall for railway passengers.
After that, the remaining scenic highlights consisted of views towards the coast before the railway stopped on the northwestern outskirts of Cairns.
So for what it was worth, here’s a brief rundown of the tour schedule of the day we did the Kuranda Scenic Railway.
First, we the organized tour took us by bus from Cairns to Kuranda at 9am.
Since the train from Kuranda back to Cairns didn’t leave until 2pm, that left us some time to kill in the town of Kuranda.
Anyways, once we went on the train back to Cairns, it came to a stop at the overlook of Barron Falls to let us get off the train to have a look at the falls for about 10 minutes.
In any case, our early afternoon arrival at the falls turned out to be suboptimal from a photography standpoint as we were somewhat looking against the early afternoon sun.
Apparently, we could’ve also exercised another option to experience Barron Falls by taking the Sky Rail, but we can’t say anything more about that until we actually have a chance to do it.
Experiencing Barron Falls Independently
In June 2022, the family (including my Mom) made a visit to Barron Falls (the Djabugay Aboriginal word for it is Din Din), but this time we did it on our own.
To do that, we drove to the Barron Falls Scenic Walk car park (see directions below), and then went on a pretty short walk to a pair of lookouts.
This very gentle walk on elevated catwalks high above the monsoonal rainforest floor kind of reminded me of a smaller version of tree-top walks that we’ve seen elsewhere in Australia.
Of course, this walk wasn’t among the tree tops, but it definitely gave me those vibes.
After the first lookout (which yielded a kind of partial view of Barron Falls), the track descended towards the railway over a bridge before reaching the second lookout, which was the main one.
We observed numerous families during this visit, which apparently coincided with the Winter holidays, so you know that this walk is suitable for people of just about all ages.
Overall, we spent less than 30 minutes on this excursion, but it could be as little as 15 minutes if we didn’t linger for too long at the lookout.
Barron Falls resides in the Atherton Tablelands Region near Cairns, Queensland. It is administered by the Tablelands Regional Council. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website or Facebook page.
We’ve experienced Barron Falls in a couple of different ways, where one way was by tour on the Kuranda Scenic Railway excursion while the other was on our own to the Barron Falls Walk.
For the former, we pretty much can only advise that we didn’t have to do any driving on the day we did that excursion.
Basically, we caught a bus that took us from Cairns to Kuranda Village at 9am.
Then, after being left to loiter around the town of Kuranda for the next few hours, we then caught the 2pm train leading from Kuranda back down to Cairns via the Kuranda Scenic Railway.
I believe the Barron Falls platform was roughly 3km from Kuranda so we didn’t have to ride the train for long before stopping for the falls.
As for driving to Barron Falls Lookout from Cairns, we drove north on the Bruce Highway for about 13km to a roundabout, where we kept left (1st exit) to continue on the Route 1.
We then drove this twisty road as it climbed towards the town of Kuranda for the next 14km.
We could follow the signs and make a left turn to leave the Route 1 and go towards Kuranda, but in hindsight, I felt it was more straightforward to continue another kilometre to the turnoff onto Fallon Road.
Then, after about another kilometre on Fallon Road, we’d turn left onto Masons Rd, where we’d then drive another 500m before turning right onto Barron Falls Rd.
Finally, we’d drive the remaining 1.3km to the car park for the Barron Falls Lookout.
Overall, this drive took us about 50 minutes though most of that time was spent behind a slow truck so I’d imagine the drive time should take a bit shorter than this (GoogleMaps says it should take no more than 40 minutes).
For geographical context, Cairns is 65km (about an hour drive) east of Mareeba, 67km (over an hour drive) south of Port Douglas, 88km (under 90 minutes drive) north of Innisfail, 98km (over 90 minutes drive) northeast of Millaa Millaa, 236km (about 3 hours drive) north of Ingham, and 347km (about 4.5 hours drive) north of Townsville.
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