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Crystal Cascades

Updated Wed 13 Mar 2024


Crystal Cascades

Nestled in a lush rainforest only 14 kms out of Cairns, Crystal Cascades is a series of beautiful, secluded waterfalls and soothing swimming holes scattered along Freshwater Creek, all culminating in a collection of cascading falls at the end of the track called Wongalee Falls. Crystal Cascades is one of the most famous and popular swimming holes near Cairns, and definitely the closest! Who can resist a mere 20 minute drive to boundless natural wonders? This is the perfect day trip from Cairns if you’re yearning for a freshwater escape.

Freshwater Creek flows all year round, keeping its pools cool and refreshing for visitors seeking a reprieve from the Far North Queensland heat. Crystals is protected by a dense, self-cooling rainforest, so this really is one of your best bets for a hot summer day. There is also a barbeque and picnic area with bathroom facilities. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, those greedy goannas will certainly have their eyes on your food!

This circuit is more of a stroll than a hike, so feel free to leave your high-tech hiking getup at home. The walk is almost as short as the drive (20 minutes), however we recommend slowing your pace and strolling down by the creek where you’ll discover more secluded sections of the stream. As Crystal Cascades is loved by locals and tourists alike, it can get pretty busy! So this is a great way to break off from the beaten path to catch a few intimate and peaceful moments for yourself.

Two girls knee deep in water in foreground pointing to cascades in background

Image source: We Seek

The streams are strewn with large, majestic granite boulders which hold the warmth of the sun. These are great spots to laze and sunbathe with the lizards and wildlife, and fully embrace the laid back culture of the north. 

At the end of your 20 minute stroll you’ll emerge at Wongalee Falls, the Crystals’ crowning glory. These cascading falls open up into a large, deep swimming hole perfect for floating on your back and letting the troubles of the real world wash away.


Crystal Cascades road sign, road, lush green surrounds

Crystal Cascades is located in the Redlynch Valley, and is only a breezy 25 minute drive out through the back of Redlynch to the outskirts of the Barron Falls National Park. The entry to the waterholes is from the large public car park, the area is accessed by a short, well-signed and easy to spot 1.5 km trail. 

Unfortunately, there is no public transport to the pools, so a car is required. Checkout East Coast Tours for sweet deals on campervan hires.


Crystal Cascades, watering hole, lush rainforest surrounds

Please heed the warning signs at entry and along the track. Queensland is prone to torrential rains during its wet season (summer) which can drastically impact walking tracks and water levels, as well as churn up underwater debris like rocks, branches and trees. 

Whilst there is clear signage warning against cliff jumping, this doesn’t stop all visitors. Always wade out into the water you plan on jumping into first to check for depth, rocks, branches and other underwater debris. However, we stand with the signage at Crystal Cascades and advise against any unsafe activities. 

Discover our more waterfall day trips, and be sure to live chat with our friendly team to get up to speed on anything else you need to know.

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