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LOCATION: Granite Gorge

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tropical North Tourism

Through this series we have travelled far and wide throughout the Wet Tropics and talked of many places. We have visited some of the best of the National Parks and talked about some sensational places to enjoy nature’s best. One of the most under-rated areas in this region needs to be shared with you, and that is Granite Gorge.

Granite Gorge, The Mareeba-Tablelands

Granite Gorge is a private nature park about 12km out of Mareeba where you can swim in some luscious gorges, take a hike through some enchanting savannah terrain, see some turtles and feed some very cute little rock wallabies. If you are travelling through the region it is also a perfect spot to stay for the night or enjoy the serenity for a couple of days. There is a good mix of camping sites, caravan facilities and self contained cabins to retreat to. It is a great place to centre yourself to explore the rest of the tablelands swell, but we will look at some of the highlights of the park itself.

Colleen Byrd realised how stunning the scenery was around her home, and in the late 1970’s opened up this eclectic nature park to the public. The rustic nature of Granite Gorge is apparent upon arrival, as you pass through the main gates you are greeted by her lovely chickens and turkeys who are free to roam the park. On arrival at the office Colleen will also introduce you to her lovely lizard, snake and bird friends who keep her company day in and out. If you are curious about these animals, ask, for Colleen is a lovely lady who will share an immense amount of knowledge about the animals. If you go on a quiet day she might even let you hold some of her reptilian friends. The inviting nature of Granite Gorge is definitely one of its many many highlights.

Once you enter the park there is a map outlining the walking trails to help you navigate the huge granite boulders and find your way to the best swimming holes, dinosaur footprints and wallaby rock. Of wallaby rock, the name is self explanatory and one of the reasons many people visit the park. You can get up close and personal with many of the Mareeba rock wallabies on the property, and even feed them some of Colleen’s special treats. This has been the highlight of many a tourist’s (and many kids) trip as you can get closer then ever to these wonderful little creatures (and they are super friendly). This is a great experience and the only place we would recommend feeding wild animals as it is a private nature reserve, please don’t feed animals in National Parks or the wild (it is not good for them).

Our advice is to take a photo of the map as it is very easy to get lost, and you will first want to visit all of the best spots before losing yourself in nature’s adventure playground. The yellow walk is relatively easy and the shorter of the two, it will take you to a great place for a swim. The red track is the harder of the two and requires optimal footwear. This will meander up, down, over and under many a boulder and some amazing tropical fauna to lead you to what is described as the dinosaur footprints. This guide might be sceptical as to whether or not they are actually from dinosaurs but we will let you visit to decide. In total there is at least three kilometres of walking trails around the park, which, if you want to take your time and enjoy, will take at least an hour and a half.

The swimming holes throughout the park are fantastic and even big enough to put in a small kayak or paddle board. The water is clear and fresh and there are no crocodiles so it is safe for swimming. Also as it is a privately run nature park you can also drop a fishing line in to see if you can catch some dinner. There are also barbecue facilities on site.

The biggest highlight of the gorge would have to be the little Mareeba Rock Wallaby. These cute little marsupials are one of the many endangered species around the tablelands and they are only found around this region (hence the name). Also being a rock wallaby they are found mainly around rocky terrain where they feel at home and move with great speed and agility. These little creatures weigh about 4kg and have a greyish tinge around their back with some being close to black. Their underbelly is quite pale and they have a distinctive pale streak across their cheek which adds to their cuteness. The colony at Granite Gorge is probably one of the largest you will find (over 100) as there is an abundance of food and they also get fed very well by the tourists.

So all in all, Granite Gorge is another must see along the tracks around the tablelands and Far North Queensland. Even if you have half a day to spare, it is enough to go for a short walk, feed the wallabies and have a quick dip, but time permitting it is definitely worthwhile stay for at least one night… the ambience is terrific.

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Tourism Tropical North Queensland