The Rock Wallabies of Granite Gorge
While staying in Cairns we hired a car for 3 days to explore far North Queensland. We couldn’t believe how much there was to see so close to Cairns! One of our favourite spots was Granite Gorge in the Atherton Tablelands. Here you can interact with and feed wild Mareeba Rock Wallabies that are endemic to Mareeba. Warning – These wallabies are ridiculously cute!
Finding Granite Gorge
Granite Gorge is a bit tucked away. It’s close to Mareeba which is a town on the main highway through the Atherton Tablelands. We’d already planned to visit Mareeba to visit Coffee Works (which we loved too – more on that another day) so it was an easy decision to make the detour and see Granite Gorge. It takes around 20 minutes to reach Granite Gorge from Mareeba and you have to take a few back roads so having google maps with you will definitely help. The map below shows exactly where you’ll find Granite Gorge:
Arriving at Granite Gorge
Granite Gorge isn’t your typical touristy Nature Park. Upon arrival we were greeted by some chickens and turkeys wandering around outside reception. Despite several attempts they proved difficult to extract any information from so we tracked down the reception hut where we found the owner. She explained how the park works and the entry fee. We paid $10 each to have the freedom of the whole park and she threw in some food for the wallabies for free which was much appreciated.
We moved next door to get our maps and she showed us her pet jungle python and monitor lizard. Before we had a chance to think about our responses she’d asked if we’d like to hold them. This went down a bit better with me than with lisa…
Exploring Granite Gorge
There are two walking tracks around Granite Gorge. The yellow one is the smaller of the two and is fairly straightforward, although some clambering over boulders is required. The red track is harder and we didn’t have the time (or the footwear) to have a proper go at that. I did do a little bit of it though which I’ll get to later. We were supplied with a map to show the routes and they are marked with coloured reflectors and white arrows as you go around but it’s still easy to get lost. Make sure you have time in your schedule to take a few wrong turns and backtrack. You’ll also need proper footwear to do the full walk, and even the shorter one is difficult without it. I had flip-flops and things got a little precarious!
Once Lisa had recovered from her snake encounter we headed down the stairs to the aptly named “Wallaby Rock”, there were wallabies everywhere! We stayed here for ages with the wallabies. We’ve fed wallabies before but doing it out in the open with wild ones was a great experience. The gorge was fairly quiet with just a few other people around and it was easy to find your own spot to hang out with the wallabies.
After Wallaby Rock we began following the trail through the gorge. W-O-W. The views were spectacular, especially in the late afternoon sunshine.
We also saw more wallabies here including one with a Joey in her pouch! We were glad we kept some of our food, they probably needed it a lot more than the ones at the start. They were certainly pretty keen on making sure they got some from us. One even hopped about five feet up a rock to get the food Lisa had!
Granite Gorge Dinosaur Footprints
Further along the trail you’ll find a branch where the red trail appears. You can either continue on the red trail for the longer of the circuit walks or take the yellow route and begin heading back to reception. On a rock near the branch is written ‘Dinosaur Footprints’. I’ve always wanted to see some bona fide dinosaur footprints so decided to take a look despite it being a bit of a tricky route with my inappropriate footwear. After some precarious footholds and slippery boulders I finally found them.. I’m still not sure if they’re really dinosaur footprints though. I’ve tried to find out online but without much luck. Here are some photos so you can decide for yourself!
We tried to return to reception using the yellow path, the problem is that towards the end it’s not well marked. We made it over the water to a small piece of scrubland, but here the trail just sort of.. disappeared. After spending another 15 minutes climbing up more boulders and realising we weren’t going the right way we returned to the scrubland and noticed an almost totally hidden path heading back up the hill. This is the right way to go. Hopefully we can stop other people getting lost here! We had to let another group who were about to make the same mistake we did know where the correct path was.
The Mareeba Rock Wallabies of Granite Gorge
Despite getting lost we loved our time with the wallabies at Granite Gorge. It’s a beautiful spot to visit even without the wallabies but they make it really special. We ended up spending almost 2 hours here and could easily have stayed longer if we hadn’t needed to get back for a BBQ with our Helpx hosts. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this spot if you’re visiting the tablelands. Make sure you bring your camera and some rolled oats for the wallabies, they love them!
Have you visited Granite Gorge? Have you had a chance to get so close to wild wallabies anywhere else? We’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!