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Crystal Creek Townsville

Go Walk: Paluma Dam to Paradise Waterhole

Location: Starts at Paluma Dam, finishes at Paradise Waterhole (Mutarnee).

Distance of walk: 15km.

Highlights and main features of the walk: Hiking on formed marked tracks in the Wet Tropics rainforest of Paluma Range National Park. You see a variety of rainforest, two great waterfalls, a lookout, and great swimming holes.

This hike is a combination of two walks from the book Walks, Tracks and Trails of Queensland’s Tropics by Derrick Stone published March 2016, CSIRO Publishing (available at local books stores).


Start at Paluma Dam and walk for one-and-a-half to two hours to Big Crystal Falls — a superb waterfall with a great swimming hole. Then hike for 45 minutes to Gold Creek Falls — another great waterfall with a small swimming hole, and then clamber down to the pool using the rope. Then there’s a 45-minute hike through steep up and down sections to Cloudy Lookout. There are views over Crystal Creek valley, and opposite to Paluma’s Witts Lookout and Cloudy Creek. Then 45 minutes on steep downhill sections to Cairn Creek and the rock cairn. From here, the terrain flattens out to an undulating track walk, crossing the creek several times through grassland and scrub to Crystal Creek crossing (rock hop), and then the short road walk to Paradise Waterhole.


Most challenging aspect? It’s an undulating walk, with several steep short hill climbs, lot of downhill steep sections after lunch, several creek crossings (if dry then no challenge). Tracks can be rough with tree rocks and rocks underfoot in some sections.

Most rewarding aspect? Variety of the wet tropics walk environment, the waterfalls and swimming holes, birdlife, being able to enjoy and experience this unique and special environment.

gold-creek-fallsBest time of year to go? Anytime, but best in dry conditions. After heavy rain the creeks may not be passable, and tracks will be slippery.

What to bring? It’s a one-day hike so you need day hiking gear and food. Water can be refilled along the way at several creeks, but plan on carrying two litres at any time. It is a remote area with no mobile phone reception. You need to carry first aid kit, PLB (EPIRB), and be self-sufficient in remote area hiking. Take a map showing the tracks, or the book Walks, Tracks and Trails of Queensland’s Tropics.

Allow eight to nine hours for the hike — that will provide ample time at the waterfalls for swimming and sightseeing.

Being a point-to-point walk, you need to arrange for drop off at Paluma Dam then pick up at Paradise Waterhole.

You can do this in the opposite direction, but that’s best for the cooler months of the year due to the very steep long hill climbing sections.


crystal-creek-199Walking Times:

Paluma Dam to Crystal Falls – 1.5 hrs

Crystal Falls to Gold Creek Falls – 45 minutes

Gold Creek Falls to Cloudy Lookout – 45 minutes

Cloudy Lookout to Cairn Creek Cairn – 45 minutes

Cairn Creek Cairn to Paradise Waterhole – 2 hrs

Total Distance – 15.25 km

Paluma Dam to Crystal Falls – 5.2 km

Crystal Falls to Gold Creek Falls – 2.4 km

Gold Creek Falls to Cloudy Lookout – 1.2 km

Cloudy Lookout to Cairn Creek Cairn – 1.9 km

Cairn Creek Cairn to Paradise Waterhole – 4.5 km


Start Paluma Dam – altitude 901 mr

Highest point – 1001 mr

Crystal Falls – altitude 700 mr

Gold Creek Falls – altitude 750 mr

Cloudy Lookout – altitude 549 mr

Cairn Creek Cairn – altitude 186 mr

Finish Paradise Waterhole – altitude 83 mr

Total descent: 1282 mr

Total ascent: 448 mr

Elevation Grade: -4.4% (steepest grade -61%)

Get involved

Townsville Bushwalking Club organises bushwalks every two weeks, except for the hottest part of the year. Many of the walks are within an hour’s drive of Townsville. One-day walks are held on Sundays and there are some multi-day walks on the calendar.

Visitors and members who wish to participate in the next walk are required to attend the pre-walk meeting for a briefing on the walk, and approval by the walk leader to participate. The minimal level of fitness required is to be able to walk up the Goat Track of Castle Hill with ease.

The destination is decided at the meeting, with weather and other conditions taken into consideration.

For more information and a list of upcoming walks see the Townsville Bushwalking Club website.

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Townsville Bushwalking Club

Townsville Bushwalking Club

Townsville Bushwalking Club started in April 1961. The club is very active bushwalking in the region, mainly within 80 km of Townsville. We also do extended trips further afield like Porcupine Gorge, White Mountains. Typical bushwalks visit gorges, waterfalls, and peaks all-year round. See our website for more info, and come along to a pre-walk meeting.

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