Girrigun NP and Blencoe Falls are situated on top of the Great Dividing Range, inland from Cardwell and the Hinchinbrook Islands. The water is cool and clear and the landscape, although once selectively logged and partially used for cattle grazing, is still spectacular.
The area can be accessed either via the winding little single lane Kirrima Range Road up the mountainside (from Kennedy) or via Mt Garnet on the Western side.
The track up the range is steep and rutted in places but can be driven in an ordinary 2-wheel drive. Slowly winding up the range to the top takes roughly one and a half hours if you take your time and stop to enjoy the views from the lookouts.
Be cautious and on the watch for on-coming traffic though as the track is quite narrow and passing can be difficult in places.
Once at the top of the range, the road flattens out into a leisurely, scenic and winding drive through the big timber, passing Kirrima Station and onto Blencoe Falls camping area on the banks of Blencoe Creek. Camping is managed via the QPWS online permit system, and there are many sites to choose from.
Sites are not specified on the permit, so you need to find a location when you get there, and it looks like there were about twenty different locations to choose from. A few of the sites further upstream need a 4-wheel drive to access them and some have nice level sand-based camping whilst others are on the granite itself.
Swimming was fantastic during our most recent visit, although I have been there on previous occasions when the water has been freezing cold and even the hardiest of the kids have been put off.
Blencoe Falls themselves are downstream from the campgrounds but are best accessed via a short drive around to the viewing platforms. During the wet season, the flow over the falls and down into the Herbert River can be up to ten meters deep, although access to the area is cut off at this time.
The falls are one of Queensland’s most spectacular, and I can only imagine when in full flood, they would be particularly awesome to see.
Activities mostly surround relaxation here. There are black bream (Sooties) in the creek and no doubt some red-claw or cherabin (freshwater prawns), but they didn’t seem to be in huge numbers.
Kayaks can be used in the upper section of the creek to explore further as well, although there would be a number of locations where you’d need to pull them over the rocks to get into the next section of water.
Cattle will also wander in and around your camp, so don’t be surprised if you suddenly find yourselves being visited.
They are obviously very used to campers though and not the least bit concerned as they stroll past to access the creek for a drink.
Mosquitoes were almost non-existent, but not quite, and no doubt their presence would depend on rainfall in the area. The cattle, however, do bring a few flies with them. Not in plague proportions, but if you are one who is bothered by flies, then bring a head-net just in case.
Blencoe and Girrigun are a favourite spot of ours to visit and are particularly kid-friendly with a lack of ‘rules’ and regulated camping that I for one, appreciate. Campfires are permitted and there is plenty of good hard timber to scrounge along the roadway.
If you are thinking of bringing the camper trailer, then yes, it can be done, but some of the sites are small and be prepared to have some tight reverse parking to contend with.
This isn’t a place for caravans, motorbikes or quad-bikes though, and if you do bring a generator, please use it with consideration for others to be able to enjoy the peacefulness of the place. There is a single set of toilet facilities about mid-way through the camping areas, but it was again disappointing to find scattered toilet paper around the place where people are too lazy and ignorant of others to bother burying it or throwing it on the fire. It’s not hard, and our kids should be taught proper toilet etiquette from a young age, or good campsites just turn into public toilets.
The drive West out to Mt Garnet takes about 1.5hrs and is around 90-odd kilometres of decent gravel road through the more scenic country. Girrigun and Blenco are nice and close to both Cairns and Townsville and can be visited as part of a longer loop drive, or just as a destination in their own right. Great spot, highly recommended.