Crystal Cascades
Experience | bushwalk | waterfall | Far North | Queensland

Crystal Cascades

A Cairns local favourite

by Susie Baber  |  20 February 2023

The drive from Cairns to Crystal Cascades is almost as beautiful as the walk to the cascades themselves. This is one of the Cairns locals favourite swimming spots, croc free and only 20mins from the centre of town, on the outskirts of Barron Falls National Park. The area is difficult to get to by public transport so you will need a car, or to book an organised tour.

At the end of Redlynch Intake Road there is a carpark with barbecues, a picnic area and toilet facilities, thank you Cairns Council. The walk is signposted and follows a sealed road, so it is easy to follow. Although it is a constant uphill climb the Crystal Cascades walk is not a difficult walk, more of a short 1.2 kilometre stroll on a sealed bitumen road. The road can be slippery in places if it is wet – which is a lot of the time in Queensland – so take care.

Crystal Cascades is a picturesque walk, through tropical rainforest and passing fast-flowing rapids. Following Freshwater Creek upstream, you pass a series of cascades punctuated by swimming holes, with stairs that provide access to the creek bank if you fancy a dip. The creek flows year-round, fed by Lake Morris and the many tributaries on the Lamb Range. It is about a 20 minute walk to reach the end of the road, where you’ll find the main waterfall flowing into a deep, wide pool. Officially, the name for this waterfall is Wongalee Falls, Crystal Cascades is the local name for the chain of waterfalls spilling down the gorge. When you reach the top there is a viewing platform and access to the waterfall, where you can relax on the large granite boulders and swim in the natural pool.

 Fairy Falls

There is a second track that starts from the same carpark to a hidden waterfall known as Fairy Falls. At the end of the carpark a rough unmarked trail winds through the rainforest before reaching another little waterfall with a swimming hole. This spot is much more secluded and off the beaten path. We didn’t have time to explore this option on our recent trip, one to keep on the list for next time.

As always, it might seem safe on a calm day, but all waterways can be a completely different beast following rain. Monitor the conditions and don’t enter the water if you have any doubts.

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