About Josephine Falls
Josephine Falls was a multi-tiered cascade on the eastern slopes of Mt Bartle Frere (or Chooreechillum in the Noongyanbudda Ngadjon-jii language), which was the state of Queensland’s highest mountain at 1622m.
Being in one of the wettest regions of Australia with an annual rainfall of between 5-8m over 250 days per year, Josephine Creek tends to have a very healthy perennial flow.
The waterfall featured a handful of lookouts as well as a couple of swimming holes with even a bit of a sloping natural slide between them.
Given the heat and humidity of the tropical northern coast of Queensland, it wasn’t hard to see why this place was popular to cool off as well as to have some fun.
Heck, its close proximity to the towns of Babinda as well as Innisfail while being about an hour drive south of the touristy town of Cairns, I’m sure that really exacerbated this place’s popularity.
As far as the waterfall viewing experience, there were three main areas to get close to and check out each of the waterfall’s cascading tiers.
Each of these spots were reachable at the end of a benign 700m walk (in each direction), which went under a thick canopy of a monsoonal rainforest.
Trail Description for Josephine Falls
From the car park (see directions below), we went on a mostly flat and well-shaded paved path leading past a few rest benches and giant boulders.
At the first signed trail junction, a spur path led down to our right before reaching a lookout platform beneath a series of steps.
This lookout didn’t yield the greatest of views so we had to do a fairly dodgy boulder scramble for a more satisfying look at the Josephine Falls.
However, it was on this same scramble that you could reach the swimming hole, which was right at the foot of what looked to be a natural water slide.
We also noticed that there was a depth indicator that was set up at this swimming hole so you can determine whether or not it’s too dangerous to go in due to high current.
By the way, the warning signs here underscore the everpresent danger of getting swept away or drowned so you’ll definitely want to be very careful while scrambling and swimming on Josephine Creek.
In fact, on my first visit here in May 2008, I managed to slip and fall on one of the uneven boulders breaking a leg of a tripod.
After having our fill of this lower lookout, we then went back up the steps and continued on the well-established trail before reaching the next spur trail with a sign saying “Creek View”.
Perhaps severely understating the view you get at the end of this spur, we got perhaps our best photos of Josephine Falls from here.
At this vantage point, we could get satisfying looks at the upper three tiers of Josephine Falls (the last tier was downstream).
However, if the morning sun manages to penetrate the rainforest and strike Josephine Creek, then it might make it a bit difficult to get a good photo (like it did on our first visit in May 2008).
There was also a separate spur path nearby this “Creek View”, where apparently it was possible to swim here as well as to scramble to the top of the lowermost tier, which acted like a natural water slide.
The last (uppermost) of the lookouts for Josephine Falls went right towards edge of the spray zone of the upper two tiers of the waterfall.
Even though the elevated walk and lookout stopped well short of the waterfall’s top two tiers, we were still feeling the mist coming from it.
While the lower lookouts provided opportunities for a swim, this lookout was in the restricted zone so no swimming was allowed here.
Overall, we’ve spent a little over an hour away from the car, but given the fun factor here, I’d imagine you can spend as little time as you want or as much time as you want.
Josephine Falls resides in the Wooroonooran National Park near Innisfail, Queensland. It is administered by the State of Queensland Department of Environment and Science. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.
Coming from the Hwy 25/Hwy 1 junction in Innisfail, we headed north on the Bruce Hwy (Hwy 1) for about 16km.
Then, we made a sharp left turn onto Bartle Frere Rd, which followed for about 3.8km to Price Rd.
Turning left onto Price Rd, we then followed Price Rd for about 3.2km (which became Biggs Rd en route) before turning right onto the access road to the car park for Josephine Falls.
We were able to follow signs when we got onto the Bartle Frere Rd, which we kept following until the end of this drive.
Going in the opposite direction from Cairns, we drove about 60km south on the Bruce Hwy (A1) before turning right onto Bartle Frere Road.
Then, we’d follow the signs, which took us on the same roads as the directions as given above from Innisfail.
Overall, the drive between Innisfail and Josephine Falls was well than 30 minutes while we spent a little over an hour on the drive between Cairns to Josephine Falls.
For geographical context, Innisfail was about 30km (under 30 minutes drive) south of Babinda, 88km (over an hour drive) south of Cairns, 148km (over 90 minutes drive) north of Ingham, and 260km (3 hours drive) north of Townsville.
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