For a place with such spectacular landforms, it is surprising that Behana Gorge is not listed as National Park with its namesake. Located about 30 minutes drive south of Cairns, and hidden in the flanks of the grand Walsh’s Pyramid, Behana Gorge is one of Cairn’s best kept secrets, and has been touted “The Cairns Hike in Paradise” by the locals.
Indeed, the spectacle of Behana Gorge is not immediately apparent when one pulls up at the gate that marks start of the walking track. There are no interpretive signs saying “You are here”, although the path is wide and obvious.
It takes 45 minutes to get to a clear vista of the gorge, on an undulating track flanked by a water pipe that must be carrying water from the other end – Behana Gorge is one of Cairn’s water supply. There are some points along the trail where swimming holes and sneak peeks of the gorge can be accessed. And of course, the plant life is also luxuriant.
Most of the way into the Gorge, the a lot of the forest consists of rainforest, and in many parts there are eucalypt emergents, particularly the Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) and Red Mahogany (E. pellita). The savanna past of these forests is apparent, and it is interesting to see savanna cycads such as Cycas media persisting as rather large individuals in the understoreys of these forest.
In some very rocky parts, the understorey of these forest totally give way to ferns! There was a profusion of Hare foots fern, (Davallia spp.), Oakleaf fern (Drynaria quercifolia) and another fern Microsorum punctatum that practically dominated the forest understorey in these areas. Never have I seen such a total dominance of ferns under the canopy of tropical eucalypts.
In the spots where streams and waterholes are present, the vegetation gives way to beautiful large stands of ghostly white-barked Watergums (Tristaniopsis exilliflora) and Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) by moss-laden banks.
And finally upon arriving at the majestic vista of the gorge proper, it is not difficult to understand why the place is one of Cairn’s paradisical spots. There lies a picture-perfect vision of a cascading waterfall, set against giant boulders.
The banks of the other side of the gorge is also presents a beautiful profile of the lush rainforest that flank the gorge. There are beautiful well-formed Kauri Pines (Agathis robusta) along with the emergent brush boxes (Lophostemon suaveolens), Cadagi (Corymbia torelliana) and Forest Red Gum.
Certainly worth the walk in.
Notes of getting there
From Cairns city find the Bruce Highway, travel about 29.5 km along this highway and out into the vast cane fields of the outskirts of Cairns, upon seeing and passing the Walsh’s Pyramid (a pyramid-shaped hill) look out for a right turn into Behana Gorge Road. Travel 2 km up this road and there will be a car park by gated entrance to the walking trail.
The trail is an approximately 6km return trip, taking about 90 minutes to complete.