Barron River, AUS 2012
In mid-November of 2012, Becky my wife) and I took a week long trip to Cairns, Australia. While exploring the area, we decided to visit the Barron River Falls and Gorge. Cairns is in the northwest portion of Australia and in a region called Queensland.
The Barron Gorge is a rugged and hilly region lying approximately 30 km northwest of Cairns.
The wild rainforest valley of Barron River, contains diverse and unique ecosystems. It has tall, closed canopy of vine forext with an open forest alliance of eucalyptus. Pictured above and below, The rainforest was easily accessible by a historic train and the Skyrail cableway. Becky and I chose to take the Skyrail cableway up to Kuranda and then take the historic train on the way down.
Pictured above and below, the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is a 7.5 km cableway traversing the Barron River National Park between it’s Caravonica and Kuranda terminals. An amazing, panoramic experience, Skyrail allows you to glide just meters over the rainforest canopy, enjoying a bird’s-eye view of the rainforest, the Barron Gorge and even out to the Coral Sea.
Twelve hundred species of flowering plants, eight hundred different rainforest trees, spectacular orchids, strangler figs, exotic palms and hundreds of unique creatures inhabit this lush green world at the top.
Pictured below, the Kuranda Scenic Railway travels through the rugged coastal mountain range, steep ravines and gorges, tumbling waterfalls, rich rainforest, meandering freshwater streams, and next to the Barron Falls.
Pictured above and below, a giant 260 m, granite-faced waterfall, the Barron Falls is one of Cairns’ and Tropical North Queensland’s most iconic landmarks. The falls are truly a sigh to behold in the summer months, when Cairns and the surrounding regions receive their annual monsoonal rainfall; anywhere between two and four meters of rain.
At the top of the gorge, near Kuranda, lie the Barron Falls, (pictured below). Whilst the wet weather can put a dampener on your spirits, it’s the lifeblood of the rainforests and the Barron Falls and it isn’t long before the churning waters are thundering over the granite precipice, creating an impressive monument to nature’s deluge.
The Barron Falls once mighty flow is today diverted for hydroelectricity, so now they are only seen in full flow during the wet season form December through to March.
During the dry season, (like November), the water over the falls reduces to a trickle. However, to allow Barron Gorge to maintain its status as a major tourist attraction, the floodgates of the upper dam are opened to allow the falls to tumble just as the Kuranda tourist train arrives! The railway travels from Kuranda to Cairns, with stop-overs at Freshwater Train Station, falling through the park, travelling through 15 hand-made tunnels and 37 bridges along the way.
The landscape of Barron Gorge National Park began to form about 400 million years ago under the sea, when Australia was still part of the great super-continent, Gondwana. Ancient rivers carried sediments to the coast, which was then more than 100 km west of its present position. Earth movements at the edge of the continent uplifted and compressed the sandwich of sediments and volcanic rocks, forming the metamorphic low-grade slates, greywackes and siltstone. Subsequently, the Barron River eroded areas of weakness and a deep gorge was formed. Where the
underlying rock was more resistant, the river water tumbled over the sharp edge to form a broken waterfall more than 260 m high.
Pictured above, the Stoney Creek Falls is a cascade waterfall on the Stoney Creek located where the river descends from the Atherton Tablelands to the Barron River Gorge below. The famous Kuranda railway winds its way on a journey from Kuranda to Cairns, with freshwater situated along the line with views of the surrounding mountains. Starting from 328 m to sea level, the journey from Kuranda passed spectacular waterfalls and into the stunning Barron Gorge.
Pictured above, this 127-year-old railway is considered an engineering feat of tremendous magnitude even today. The railway is now Heritage Listed and a National Engineering Landmark.