Juwun and Jambal walks, Wet Tropics Great Walk Townsville | Tropical North Queensland

Nature, culture and history

Natural environment

A complicated beginning

The origins of the Herbert River Gorge and Blencoe Falls are anything but humble. Several major geological events created the landscape that you see today.

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 present-day landforms began to form. 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 40cm every 100 years. As the gorge became longer, it passed tributaries, including Blencoe Creek, which were then suspended. This created waterfalls, such as Blencoe, which in turn eroded their own gorges.

Animals and their habitats

In the open forest, look for the elegant whiptail wallabies and gangly emus as they rest in the shade and listen for laughing kookaburras or screeching sulphur-crested cockatoos. Shags and cormorants can be seen along the banks of the Herbert River while sea-eagles and falcons soar high above.

In the creeks and rivers, freshwater turtles can often be seen basking on logs or peering through the surface of the water.

The Blencoe Falls Section of Girringun National Park boasts spectacular scenery and an array of plant and animal life. Open forest dominates the escarpments and she-oaks 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 are a distinctive feature of the landscape around Blencoe Falls. A long time ago, when the world was warmer and wetter and dinosaurs roamed our 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 dry season, 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 season, the countryside is inundated with water and the plants spring back to life.

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