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LOCATION: Josephine Falls, Wooroonooran National Park

It’s a cracker of a day, we start early with a beautiful array of people to travel to spectacular settings through the Atherton Tablelands. Each day differs depending on the people and the weather, but the one constant is my ability to guide and bask in the beauty of one of my favourite regions throughout Australia. This is the Waterfalls tour.

Many people ask whether you get tired of the same places everyday, whether you ever need a break from people. What they don’t understand is the nature of this job. It’s NATURE, and nothing can beat that. The variety on this tour is as vast as the landscape through this region and the diversity of people to enjoy the day with. It’s like making new friends everyday.

Josephine Falls, Wooroonooran National Park

Yes, we go to Josephine Falls everyday, but why wouldn’t you. It is the most picturesque waterfall in the whole of Far North Queensland, and has a natural waterslide to boot. In one of the longest protected rainforests in the North, Josephine has been used as a tourist destination since before any real tourism came to Cairns. From 1921 parts of this region were turned into a National Park, even back then people recognised the importance of protecting the territory and the fabulous diversity of the tropical rainforest. This was when the majority of the far north was being logged for its resources of hard wood. After this it took until 1988 before it was heritage listed and protected by UNESCO. Stunning, awe inspiring and grande are words some of the past tourists have used to describe this lovely lady named Josephine, favourite is another. Even through the drive into Wooroonooran National Park, it is eye catching, the Bellenden Ker Ranges and Mt. Bartle Frere are a majestic backdrop to the roadside sugar cane and banana crops. Then you are met with a wall of green as you enter the car park of the National Park. This is just the beginning. From the car park there is a gentle 700m walk along a creek to reach the waterfalls. The flora is from a different era and not typically seen by those from big cities or other environs. A plethora of plants from ancient times, cycads, ferns, epiphytes, you see them here in all their glory.

On arrival at the falls there is  a quick safety chat and it’s hard to hold people back from the refreshing coolness Josephine has to offer. The excitement builds as everyone gets ready for the waterslide. In my time coming here I have seen people of all ages (7 to 70) able to get across to enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes with meeting Josephine. Most days she is calm and safe, lots of fun. Others she has a temper from the raging wet season, give her space and stay out of the water. With too much rain it becomes dangerous to swim but the trade off comes in the ferocious views, the loud screaming torrent and the furious deluge you are able to witness. It is bliss either way.

Josephine is definitely my highlight but that does not detract from any of the other destinations we frequent. There are other regular haunts on this tour but where we go is flexible, depending on what the passengers know about the region. My favourite question in the morning is “Is there anywhere you would like to go today?” It leaves most with a blank face, others who have done their research might ask about Babinda, Lake Eacham or Millaa Millaa, they are regular spots on the circuit. Every now and then I might get a request for the tea plantations, giant fig trees, to spot an elusive tree kangaroo, and sometimes Dinner Falls. It all depends on the crowd. There are so many places to explore through this region, such variation and beauty that the hardest part of this job is trying to distil it into one day. We like to take our time in Far North Queensland, never in a rush, so we generally visit about 5 spots throughout the day and take our time to embrace nature and the beauty it beholds.

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Photo credit: Photos courtesy of Barefoot Tours & their photographer Scott Plume