River activities are a must do for Far North Queenslanders, especially in our long hot summers.
There are plenty of spots on the major rivers that are popular with kayakers, rafters and stand up paddleboarders. We asked professional photographer Paul Curtis from NQ Wildscapes to take readers a bit further off the beaten track for some river drifting adventure ideas…
Kauri and Henrietta creeks need reasonable water levels for a comfortable drift, so January to May is ideal as long as they aren’t in flood.
Adventure 1: Danbulla | Drift length: 3km | Drift time: 2 hours
Getting there: Head for Tinaroo Falls Dam Road (if coming via Atherton) or Danbulla Road via the Gillies Range. Take the Kauri Creek Road turn off (1.4km from the day-use area). About 6km up the road you’ll find a sign-posted access point to the creek, and carpark.
Drift info: Kauri Creek rises between the peaks of Mt Edith and Haig and has a reasonable flow for most of the year. If you’re drifting in dry season, adults may need to walk some sections.
Kauri Creek has a mostly sandy bottom and drops very little in altitude over the 3km distance, apart from a short rocky section you encounter after about half an hour. (This section is about 200 metres long, but it could be tricky for small kids or after rain when the rocks are slippery.)
Other things to know: This adventure will need a car shuffle, or a drop-off. Expect small patches of lawyer cane. In case of emergency, the walking track and road is never far away.
Adventure 2: Henrietta | Drift length: 3km | Drift time: 6 hours from Henrietta Creek campground (with lots of stops for wildlife appreciation!)
Getting there: Access is off the Palmerston Highway. Start your drift from the Henrietta Creek campground, or Gooligans day-use area for a shorter drift.
Drift info: Henrietta Creek has a rocky bottom – booties or waterproof sandals are recommended as well as a “support” paddle or stick for slippery shallow sections.
After a few hours you’ll be close to the top of Wallicher Falls. There is plenty of warning before the falls – walking track markers either side of the creek, just before a rock barrage. Here, you will need to ‘dismount’ and walk to the track entrance on the left, approximately 100 metres before the falls. Follow the track for a few metres before another short trail descends to the right to the bottom of the falls where you can drift right under the waterfall!
From here it’s another hour downstream to the top of Tchupala Falls. 100 metres before the creek disappears over the falls, a short scramble up the bank to the walking track on the right will take you to the carpark.
There is great scenery and you might even see platypus and cassowaries.
Other things to know: If you won’t have the energy to walk the 3km back to the campground, you’ll need to arrange a car shuffle!
Adventure 3: Mossman | Back Cover Bliss drift snorkelling
If you prefer to take the thinking out of the equation, join a river drift snorkelling tour with Back Country Bliss. Expect full immersion, family-friendly fun as you swim, snorkel and float down the gorgeous Mossman River.