If you’re looking for a short hike and fresh water swimming hole not far from Cairns, then a visit to Clamshell Falls will be the perfect half-day trip. These cascading waterfalls and natural swimming holes provide the perfect setting for a packed lunch and refreshing swim without having to worry about crocodiles!
Another selling point is that you won’t be trekking through any mud or pushing your way through tree branches; a sure win in our books.
This brief guide will detail how to get to Clamshell Falls from Cairns, what you need to know and what you should pack for a safe visit.
CLAMSHELL FALLS WALK | BEHANA GORGE NATIONAL PARK
Clamshell Falls Quick Facts
- Opening Times/Seasons: All day/ All year
- Entrance Fee: Free
- Can you swim at Clamshell Falls? Yes
- Can you camp at Clamshell Falls? No
- Picnic tables: No
- Toilets: No
- BBQ: No
Where is Clamshell Falls?
Clamshell Falls (otherwise known as Behana Gorge Falls) is a cascade waterfall located in Wooroonooran, approximately 1 hour drive south of Cairns.
You will need your own vehicle to access Clamshell Falls. It is a fresh water catchment and there is no risk of meeting wild saltwater crocodiles here.
Where is Clamshell Falls?
CLAMSHELL FALLS FROM CAIRNS
Follow the Bruce Highway (A1) southbound from Cairns. Shortly after Gordonvale, you will turn right onto Behana Gorge Road. Travel in the shadow of Walsh’s Pyramid for a short distance and keep driving to the end of Behana Gorge road. You will cross over small railway tracks a couple of times so slow down at the crossings. Then, you’ll reach a small clearing car park beside some fenced council water property.
HOW LONG IS THE BEHANA GORGE WALK?
From the car park, the track is sealed the entire route following the length of the catchment water pipe. The Behana Gorge Water Catchment comes under the remit of Cairns Regional Council and provides fresh water to the wider Cairns area. The track undulates, following the curves of the land. We would advise a moderate level of fitness for this hike. It is a 3.3km walk from the carpark to the top of the falls and the last kilometre is quite steep. The route is mostly shaded by the rainforest. It is recommended that you visit early-mid morning to avoid walking the track in the middle of the day.
The track follows the length of the creek. About two thirds of the way is when you’ll start to hear the rushing and roaring water. You may spot a small fenced lookout from where you can view the falls. The track is not fenced so take care not to venture too close to the edge. Keep small children close and dogs on a leash.
When you reach the edge of the track, you’ll find another small signpost and fence that blocks the path. Close to the top of the track, look for a worn trail that will lead you down to the smooth boulders at the edge of the main pool. There is minimal scrambling to reach the water’s edge. This main swimming hole at the bottom of the top waterfall is quite deep and undeniably refreshing on a cool day. Be extra cautious and assess the water currents after heavy downpour as swimming may not be safe.
There is another smaller natural swimming hole a few boulders down from the main pool. This one is shallower and we would consider it safer.
Safety Tips for visiting Clamshell Falls
- Lock your car and carry your valuables
- Keep an eye out for wildlife, reptiles and insects
- Do not hike or swim alone
- Be careful swimming after heavy rainfall as the current may be stronger
Hiking Essentials | What do I need to take to visit Clamshell Falls?
- Closed in shoes | We recommend sturdy, reliable footwear for this hike. Trail shoes and runners would suffice
- Basic first-aid kit | Including a space blanket
- Reusable water bottles | We recommend a bottle with a filter like this Grayl water bottle
- Sunscreen | anytime we are swimming, we try to use SunButter SPF50 Water Resistant Reef Safe Sunscreen
- Biodegradable wet wipes | For when clean water is not available
- Insect repellent | we visited during February (rainy season) and horseflies were present but didn’t bother us too much, particularly once we got into the water
- Adequate clothing for all weather conditions including rain
- Microfibre towel | we prefer our quick-dry, absorbent Tesalate sand-free towels
- Camera & drone | there is sufficient space to launch, fly and land your drone above Davies Creek Falls as there is not too much tree cover over the water itself. Depending on when you visit, you may also be fighting biting horseflies! Check out all our photography gear and equipment that we travel with