The Behana Gorge Walking Track to Clamshell Falls is in Tropical North Queensland 35 minutes south of Cairns. The walking track in Wooroonooran National Park follows Behana Creek as it tumbles over the multi-tiered Clamshell Falls and down the rocky Behana Gorge on its way to joining the Mulgrave River. It is a spectacular place, and one of the best swimming spots in North Queensland.
Disclosure: Please Note That Some Links In This Post May Be Affiliate Links, And At No Additional Cost To You, We Earn A Small Commission If You Make A Purchase. Commissions Go Toward Maintaining The Curious Campers Website.
Getting to Behana Gorge & Clamshell Falls
From Cairns it is an easy 35 minute drive south along the Bruce Highway through Gordonvale to the turn off to Behana Gorge. The turn off onto Behana Gorge Road on your right is well signed, it is also the turn off to Walsh’s Pyramid which looms large as you make your way there.
Along Behana Gorge Road you drive between fields of sugarcane getting ever better views of the 900m tall Walsh’s Pyramid. There is a well known spot along here where you can get a sugarcane framed picture of Walsh’s Pyramid, but it is probably easier to do on you way out of Behana Gorge. Eventually the road ends at a small carpark at the start of the Behana Gorge Walking Track.
The Behana Creek Scheme
One of the first things you notice when you get here is that Behana Gorge might be in a national park, but it’s certainly not free from infrastructure. Behana Creek is one of several creeks that supply fresh water to Cairns. Completed in 1954, the Behana Intake takes water from above Clamshell Falls, treats it near the Behana Gorge Walking Track carpark, then it becomes part of Cairns’ water supply.
The 19 inch cement lined steel pipe that runs the length of the Behana Gorge walking Track is a constant and interesting feature of the walk all the way from the car park to Clamshell Falls.
Is the Behana Gorge Walking Track Hard?
- Here are a few things to know about the Behana Gorge Walking Track:
- It is about 3.4km one way from the carpark to Clamshell Falls so it is a bit of hike if you want to carry anything with you beyond a drink bottle.
- The track is quite hilly, it goes up and down like a rollercoaster and you’ll be sweating or puffing or both by the time you reach Clamshell Falls. Regular walkers won’t mind it but if you are not a big walker, or if you don’t like hills or if you have walk-resistant kids it’s possible the phrase ‘are we there yet’ might be heard along the way.
- You can’t get lost. The track is more like a road, the grey cement path is wide enough for vehicles and you would have to go out of your way to stray off it.
- Bring tropical strength insect repellent, there are bugs. There are small ones that you won’t see biting you and big march flies that drill into your leg for blood which you will notice.
- The walking track is well shaded early and later in the day but when the sun is right overhead it breaks between the trees and makes the walk quite hot.
What will you see along the Behana Gorge Walk?
Putting aside the length, hilliness and road-like look of the track, this is quite a fun nature walk. We spotted lots of different butterflies including the brilliant blue Ulysses and orchard butterflies. We spotted a small lace monitor and heard lots of birds in the rainforest that lines the path. So, it is worth taking your time as you do the walk, you never know what you might spot. Cassowaries do live in Wooroonooran National Park but the best we could spot was a bush turkey!
There are also some great views of Behana Gorge to be had as you walk along, the only thing as constant as the cement pipe is the sound of flowing water. The path doesn’t run right along Behana Creek, so you do need to pick your spot between the trees to get a view of the creek flowing over the big granite boulders that make up the gorge.
Behana Gorge – Rudge Lookout
We had seen written somewhere, something about a Behana Gorge Lookout. We had an eye out for it as we made our way up and down the slopes, and only spotted it on the way back. It is about one third or halfway along the track and we only noticed it was there by the plaque commemorating Reginald Rudge, an engineer on the Behana Creek Scheme, on the side of the path.
But if you look beyond the plaque there is a narrow walkway with views down into the gorge. The view is starting to be obscured by trees, but you could still see a nice section of the creek spilling down over a couple of big steps of rock.
Clamshell Falls Swimming Holes
The best views on this walk are definitely saved up for the end – and you know it is the end because you reach a big gate across the road keeping you out on the Behana Creek Intake Station. There is also some signage there with information about the project. Access to the swimming holes and falls is 50m before you reach the gates.
It is a little bit of rock scramble to get to the base of each of the falls that make up the series of cascades at Clamshell Falls. But once you have made it to the pool you want you can carefully slide into the water and finally relax in an idyllic tropical waterfall location.
If you want to experience Behana Gorge in more heart racing style, Canyoning tours run here where you abseil, jump and slide down Clamshell Falls and Behana Gorge.
Is swimming at Clamshell Falls Safe?
As with any wild water swimming, it pays to be aware of the environment. Large amounts of water come through Behana Gorge in the Wet Season (December to March) and river levels can change quickly if there is a nearby downpour so be alert. Also take care entering the waterholes so you can determine their depth and if there are any unseen snags.
There are several rockpools upstream and downstream from the main entry point to the gorge. Best be guided by your confidence level when deciding how far to roam. There are no handrails or platforms for easy access into the water at Behana Gorge.
Walsh’s Pyramid Picture
As you leave Behana Gorge, don’t forget to stop on Behana Gorge Road for an iconic photo of Walsh’s Pyramid with the sugarcane fields in the foreground. There is a well worn pull over area where you can get that Insta worthy pic. You can hike to the Top of Walsh’s Pyramid. The difficult 6km, 5-6 hour return trek starts from a carpark on the opposite side of the mountain from where you get your pictures leaving Behana Gorge. Look for the turn off onto Moss Road back towards Cairns.
If you enjoyed this story you might also like:
Liked it? Pin it for Later…
500 THINGS TO DO
Join our mailing list and receive our Free Top 500 things to do in Australia. If you love the Australian Outdoors download this list and keep it handy when you are planning a weekend away or a road trip around Australia.