Crater Lakes National Park Tropical North Queensland

Start of twin kauris walk, Lake Barrine. Photo credit: Michael Petersen © Queensland Government

Photo credit: Darren Jew ©Tourism and Events Qld

Take your canoe and kayak for a majestic paddle along the edge of the lake. Photo credit: © Tourism Tropical North Qld

Walking tracks through the rainforest provide secluded forest-fringed views of the lake. Photo credit: © Queensland Government

Be inspired: Chasing volcanoes (and waterfalls) in the tropical north

They say ‘don’t go chasing waterfalls’ but we suggest you do, and volcanoes too! Photo credit: Steven Nowakowski © Queensland Government

Lake Barrine circuit track

Explore lush rainforest, typical of the fertile basalt (red) soils and high rainfall of this area, as you circumnavigate this high-altitude crater lake.

Journey type
5km circuit The same start and finish point, but the traveller doesn’t return along the same path
Time suggested
Allow 2hr walking time
Grade 3 walking track

Accessible by

  • Conventional vehicle
  • Walk-in

Journey facilities

  • Walking

A pleasant walk around the crater lake that passes through rainforest characteristic of the type found on fertile basalt (red) soils in areas of high rainfall. This walking track offers secluded forest-fringed views of the lake and excellent opportunities for viewing wildlife, including saw-shelled turtles and eastern water dragons.

Soon after starting the walk, you will be standing in awe of a magnificent pair of bull kauri pine trees. Continue along the well-established walking track and soak up the sounds of the World Heritage rainforest, where birds are abundant. Listen for the distinctive whip-crack call of male eastern whipbirds Psophodes olivaceus and the harsh, mewing call of spotted catbirds Ailuroedus melanotis. Groups of chowchillas Orthonyx spaldingii are often seen scratching noisily through the leaf litter. Their territorial songs carry for long distances.

Lake Barrine’s aquatic environment is more favourable for waterbirds than Lake Eacham. Shallow edges with reeds, water lilies and fallen trees act as natural perches that attract a large and diverse waterbird fauna. Look at the lakeside for Pacific black ducks Anas superciliosa, wandering whistling-ducks Dendrocygna arcuata and little black cormorants Phalacrocorax sulcirostris.

Along the walking track you will cross Toohey Creek which drains Lake Barrine. This means that the water level of the lake remains fairly constant throughout the year, except during periods of severe inundation. The water from Toohey Creek feeds the headwaters of the Mulgrave River.

You may be lucky enough to see the long olive-green body of a freshwater eel. This unusual-looking fish spends up to 30 years in Lake Barrine before migrating to the sea, via Toohey Creek and the Mulgrave River, to breed and die. Young eels spend 3 years in the ocean before they swim upstream and travel across land in search of fresh water to repeat this cycle.

Getting there and getting around

Lake Barrine circuit track is in the Lake Barrine section of Crater Lakes National Park, about 60km drive up the Gillies Range from Cairns.

Access roads are sealed and suitable for conventional vehicles.

  • From Cairns, drive approximately 60km up Gillies Range Road, turn left on Lake Barrine Access Road and into the Lake Barrine car park. Alternatively, drive approximately 8km from Yungaburra township along the Gillies Range Road and turn right into Lake Barrine Access Road.
  • Once parked, walk down the road towards the lake to find the entrance of the Lake Barrine circuit track on your left. Take care when walking on the road.
  • The walking track starts at the eastern side of the Lake Barrine teahouse, the same starting point for the twin kauris walk.
  • The track ends at the upper car park of Lake Barrine, where it’s a short stroll back down the road to the start of the walking track.

Wheelchair access

The first 80m of the walk, to the twin kauris, is accessible for wheelchairs with assistance. There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities along the remainder of the Lake Barrine circuit track. The privately owned teahouse has ramps and wheelchair-accessible toilets.

Before you visit

Opening hours

Lake Barrine circuit track is open 24 hours a day.

Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Visiting safely

For more safety information see Visiting Crater Lakes safely and Walk with care.