A complete & updated Cairns waterfall guide to Barron Falls near Kuranda. Includes everything you need to know to visit the Barron Falls lookout to see one of the largest waterfalls in Far North Queensland!
Barron Falls (indigenous name: Din Din) is one of the largest waterfalls near Cairns, with close to 250 meters of cascading water forcing its way down the deep Barron Gorge.
You might have seen photos of Barron Falls with almost Niagra Falls-like force. However, this only occurs for a short period after heavy rainfall in the wet season. For much of the rest of the year, Barron Falls looks more like the pictures below.
Still, it’s an impressive waterfall with a very scenic short hike to the viewpoints. If you know where to go, you can also walk down to some swimming spots. In this guide, I hope to answer all your questions about Barron Falls, including how to get here from Cairns, what to expect, and how to make the most of your trip!
Where is Barron Falls?
Barron Falls flows on the mighty Barron River, which begins in the Tablelands and has carved a dramatic gorge through the Lamb Range, known as Barron Gorge. This gorge has its own National Park designation titled “Barron Gorge National Park“.
While there are a few different ways to admire this megalithic waterfall, the most popular option is via a gorge viewpoint known as “Barron Falls lookout”, near the township of Kuranda, approximately 31.3 kilometres from Cairns CBD.
Below I’ve pinned the exact location of the car park providing access to the Barron Falls lookout.
Barron Falls From the Skyrail Cableway
By far, the best way to experience Barron Falls is on the Skyrail Cableway. This is also one of the most convenient options to explore Barron Gorge and the surrounding World Heritage Listed rainforest.
The Skyrail Cableway departs from Smithfield, just 15 minutes north of Cairns. This scenic cable-car experience glides 7.5 kilometres over and above the rainforest canopy for a unique perspective of Barron Falls. Then, you’ll also get to stop at The Edge lookout, the most epic view you’ll get of the waterfall!
If you’re visiting Cairns, I recommend checking out the very popular self-guided Scenic Rail & Skyrail combined ticket. This is a great value-for-money experience since you’ll get hotel pickup and dropoff to the Scenic Rail, a ticket on the rainforest train and a ticket on the Skyrail with a return transfer to your hotel!
It’s a great deal since this is actually cheaper than booking the Skyrail and Scenic Rail tickets individually!
View the combined deal: Self-Guided Kuranda Day Trip, Scenic Rail & Skyrail
How to Get to Barron Falls Lookout (Self-Drive)
Unfortunately there aren’t any buses or regular public transport options heading to the Barron Falls lookout. If you’re not taking the Skyrail, then the only other way to get here is to drive.
Driving to Barron Falls takes roughly 45 minutes from Cairns.
Start on the Captain Cook Highway, heading north. Then, turn onto Kennedy Highway, which continues north to Smithfield and then winds up the mountain through to Kuranda.
Just past the small township of Kuranda, you’ll see signs indicating the way to the waterfall. This takes you down through some rainforest, onto Barron Falls road and eventually to the waterfall and walking trail car park.
You’ll want to go to the spot labelled on Google maps as “RAINFOREST CANOPY WALK & BARRON FALLS LOOKOUT“, in all caps for some reason.
The Barron Falls Lookout & Rainforest Canopy Walk
The Barron Falls lookout is a large, fenced clearing beside the Barron Falls railway stop. While you can get here on the Scenic Rail, it’s also accessible via a short boarded walk in the rainforest canopy.
Following the directions above, you’ll find a large car park providing access to the track. The walk is a unique experience as you follow a raised boardwalk high above the rainforest floor. This provides a unique view of the ancient rainforest without disturbing the native plants and animals.
After just a few hundred metres, you’ll arrive at the Barron Falls lookout. This lookout is on the southern side of the Barron Gorge, meaning you’ll get to watch the force from a distance.
Visiting Barron Falls: Everything You Need to Know
Waterfall Height: 250 meters
Depending on the season and weather patterns, Barron Falls is either a gentle giant or a forbidding beast. As you can probably see from my photos, there hadn’t been much rain on this occasion. As a result, the flow was fairly tame.
Barron Falls is a 250-metre waterfall with tiered flow spilling over several cascading drops. The average yearly flow is about 30 cubic meters per second, quite a bit of water!
The cascading waterfall is fed from the Barron River, which is one of the largest rivers near Cairns. It begins deep in mountains near Mount Hypipamee and empties into the Coral Sea.
The Waterfall in Flood (Wet Season)
From the months of December through to March, Tropical North Queensland enters the wet season. If you’re lucky and visiting during this period, you might catch a glimpse of Barron Falls in flood! I’ve only seen it absolutely roaring one time and I didn’t have my camera with me (insert heart-break emoji).
Below is a video of the waterfall in full-flow following the heavy rain from Cyclone Imogen in 2021 (filmed from The Edge lookout).
You can also check out a live-cam of the waterfall to see how it’s going in real-time. Check it out here.
The Edge Lookout
Additionally to the main lookout above, the Skyrail Cablecar and the Scenic Rail will take you over to the other side of the gorge, stopping at The Edge Lookout.
The Edge Lookout is a newly constructed lookout area as of May 2019. It is a steel and glass structure that stretches out roughly 160 meters over the Barron Gorge.
This allows you to look down onto the impressive waterfall from a see-through glass surface.
Swimming at Barron Falls
Okay, the question of swimming at Barron Falls is a no-brainer, unless you want to be shot 250-metres down the Barron Gorge! But, while you clearly can’t swim at this waterfall, it is possible to ditch the crowds at the lookout and check out the waterfall from above.
While there were no signs saying that we couldn’t, I’m fairly certain that accessing the top of the falls is not permitted. Therefore, I’m not recommending that you follow what I did.
I walked down Weir Road, which is on the left on the way to the Barron Falls lookout. At the end of this road, I turned right and walked along the railway to the large catchment area.
Here I found some large rocks and small cliff jumps into deep water further upstream from the waterfall. But, I only found it safe on this occasion as the water was very tame.
I also didn’t even think about getting too close to the waterfall edge as the Barron River can be extremely unpredictable. However, I did get some unique perspectives of the waterfall from above and behind.
Cairns Accommodation Guide – Where to Stay
Planning a trip to Cairns and wondering where to base yourself? Below I’ve listed some of the best options near Cairns Esplanade. I’ve also written a comprehensive accommodation guide to Cairns, so make sure to check that out too before you book!
LUXURY RESORT WITHOUT THE PRICE TAG – Rydges Resort
This hotel offers the best bang-for-buck. In terms of an epic stay for a decent price! The location is perfect, close to the esplanade and features include three swimming pools, two tennis courts, a jacuzzi, a fitness centre and even an award-winning restaurant.
BEST 5-STAR LUXURY HOTEL: Pullman Reef Hotel Casino
If luxury and location are what you’re after, you can’t beat the Pullman. It’s rated Cairns’ best hotel and features restaurants, a pool, live music gigs and even a casino! If nightlife is your thing, don’t go past this one.
STAY ON THE ISLANDS: Fitzroy Island Resort
If you’d rather sleep out on one of the picturesque Great Barrier Reef Islands, look no further than the Fitzroy Island Resort. While you can get out here on a day trip, I highly recommend spending the night so you get more time to explore the reef, coral beaches and rainforest walking trails.
BEST BUDGET HOSTEL WITH A POOL – Gilligan’s Backpackers
The best backpacker option for a great vibe in Cairns is Gilligan’s Backpackers. This one has a swimming pool, AC, a complete kitchen and a great common area to meet other travellers.
More Waterfalls, Hikes & Adventures in Cairns
Did you enjoy Barron Falls? I knew you would. But let me tell you that this one is just the tip of the iceberg! Cairns is one of the best outdoor adventure destinations on this earth. To prove it, I’ve spent a year documenting and photographing all of the best hikes, waterfalls, islands and adventures to help you enjoy this slice of tropical paradise.
So, before you head off, make sure to check out some of my other guides!