Cardwell Spa Pool

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5 Detours while cycling the Cassowary Coast

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TNQ Writer

Take a break from pedalling to stop and smell the roses… or in this case, the heliconias, at these incredible detours from Cairns to the Cassowary Coast.

The sprawling, yet incredibly diverse Cassowary Coast region is one which offers a wide variety of terrain. The landscape naturally lends itself to cycling, mountain biking and other outdoor activities. For me, a mountain bike was our transportation of choice and one which allowed us to cover extensive ground and discover many wonderful hidden gems within the greater reaches of the rainforest.

During our time on the Cassowary Coast, we rode many of the major mountain bike and cycling trails in the region, while stopping off at and finding as many attractions and swimming holes as we could. If you venture out by bike or on foot into many of these amazing places, then I suggest stopping in at as many of these places as you can.

With its diverse wilderness and abundant national parks, Tropical North Queensland is home to many breathtaking mountain biking tracks. It’s important to always follow the advice from Queensland Parks and never venture into dangerous areas to prevent serious injury or death. Check trail conditions for the Smithfield MTB Park, Atherton Forest MTB Park and for all other trails visit Trailforks.

Musgravea Track swimming holes

Swimming Hole along the Musgravea Track


While cycling around the Mission Beach region, be sure to ride the Musgravea Trail. The gentle 10km long trail gradually winds its way through the stunning Djiru National Park. Dependant on what end of town you enter from, there are great swimming holes at both ends that you can jump into to cool off after a roll along the trail. Just 600m in from the Licuala Palms day use area lays an untouched crystal blue freshwater swimming hole otherwise completely hidden from human eyes. A sneaky little path to your left will pop you right out onto it, otherwise at the northern end lies popular Lacey Creek swimming area, no less beautiful and equally as refreshing.

Cardwell Spa Pool

Milky Blue waters at Cardwell Spa Pool

The Cardwell region is a real treasure trove of trails and natural playgrounds. South of town, you have the Gorrell Track, which is an amazing all-day ride, but at the harder end of the spectrum. For the family focused and recreational riders, the Cardwell Forest Reserve has both the Powerline Trail and kilometres of shared 4WD trail / road. The gradual gradient offers very easy, gentle riding, and links together the multitude of lookouts and waterfalls the park has to offer. The crown jewel, however, is the infamous Cardwell Spa Pool and is well worth the 8km or so cycle in from the beach front. The turquoise pools are a favourite spot to cool off, relax and pull up for a spot of lunch.

Note: Other notable waterfalls worth stopping in at are Attie Creek Falls and the Dead Horse creek.

Mamu Tropical Skywalk

Incredible views over World Heritage rainforest

Walk through the canopy

Sunset over the mountains

Whether you are heading in to ride the K-Tree Road Trail, heading through to camp at the South Johnstone Creek campsite or returning home after an amazing day of exploration within the Misty Mountains trail network, a detour via the Mamu Tropical Skywalk is well worth while. Only 10km from the start of the K-Tree Road trail, the Skywalk offers a close-up, guided and educated look at the Flora and Fauna found within the rainforest. Audio systems marry up the markers found along the boardwalks, or leave the headset behind and head for one of the many lookouts to watch the sunset or take in the sheer scale and beauty of the bush.

Josephine Falls

The perfect place to cool off

The waterfall and swimming hole to bet all others! Back at the northern end of the Cassowary Coast, not much further south than the Babinda Boulders and close to the Palmerston Highway on the way out to the Misty Mountain Trails, lays Josephine Falls. Nestled away in the Wooroonooran National Park, the falls present a relaxed and cool setting, multiple falls, slides and swimmable pools all accessed via boardwalks and raised platforms. You can’t take your bikes in, but for an off the bike activity, you can’t go past it.

Babinda Boulders

Crystal clear water awaits at Babinda Boulders

Whether you take your togs or a camera, the Babinda Boulders are well worth stopping in at on your way to or from Cairns. Only 36kms from Innisfail, and 66kms from Cairns, the boulders are the perfect detour to break up a big drive and refresh. The falls themselves aren’t swimmable, and are rather dangerous due to the volume of water rushing over them, but closer towards the carpark is the crystal clear and rather chilly swimming hole. Keep your eyes open for a platypus in the calmer waters.

When you land

Cairns is the gateway to Tropical North Queensland – here’s what you can see and do when you touch down