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Nature, culture and history
A complicated beginning
The origins of the Herbert River Gorge and Blencoe Falls are anything but humble. Several major geological events created today’s landscape.
About 50 million years ago, movement of the earth's crust formed the edge of the continent that lies against the Coral Sea and the formation of the present landforms began. An earlier Herbert River flowed towards the west. It is not known when it reached its present east-flowing course.
Continuous erosion caused the Herbert River Falls to retreat by around 40 cm every 100 years. As the gorge became longer, tributaries like Blencoe Creek were left suspended. This created waterfalls, such as Blencoe Falls, which in turn eroded their own gorges.
Animals and their habitats
In the open forest, look for elegant whiptail wallabies Macropus parryi and gangly emus Dromaius novaehollandiae as they rest from the heat, and listen for laughing kookaburras Dacelo novaeguineae or screeching sulphur-crested cockatoos Cacatua galerita. Australasian darters Anhinga novaehollandiae and little pied cormorants Microcarbo melanoleucos can be seen along the banks of the Herbert River while white-bellied sea-eagles Haliaeetus leucogaster, brown falcons Falco berigora and peregrine falcons Falco peregrinus soar high above.
In the creeks and rivers, Krefft’s river turtles Emydura macquarii krefftii can often be seen basking on logs or peering through the surface of the water.
Blencoe Falls, Girringun National Park boasts spectacular scenery and an array of plant and animal life. Open forest dominates the escarpments and she-oaks Allocasuarina cunninghamia line the Herbert River. Along the gullies and upper slopes of the Herbert River Gorge, vine-thicket rainforest persists.
Standing tall and regal, hoop pines Araucaria cunninghamii are a distinctive feature of the landscape around Blencoe Falls. A long time ago, when the world was warmer and wetter and dinosaurs roamed the land, hoop pines were abundant. Despite dramatic changes in the climate they live on today. Sensitive to fire, they have found refuge in protected gorges and on steep slopes and rocky outcrops.
This country is rugged and one of extremes. During the dryer months, the land is parched and vulnerable to fire. Grasses die back and some trees lose their leaves. Large granite outcrops add to the starkness, completing the appearance of a dying landscape. With the arrival of the wet, the countryside is inundated with water and the plants spring back to life.