Tully Gorge Lookout is one of Tropical North Queensland’s best-kept secrets. Read this blog on how to get to Tully Gorge and what to expect at this prehistoric rainforest lookout spot.
While the Tully Gorge waterfall lookout was once a Queensland icon, its fame as slowly dwindled to once again become a hidden gem, only really for those who really want to make the effort to reach this incredible place.
If you’re weighing up whether or not to make the mission out to Tully Gorge— do it! The short walk makes it very easy to access and the reward for the long drive is worth it ten-fold. In this guide, I’ll detail how to get to Tully Gorge, what to expect at the Tully Gorge lookout and include some photos that I hope will inspire your visit.
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About Tully Gorge
Tully Gorge is a 293-metre rocky gully carved by the Tully River as it runs downstream from the densely forested Cardwell Range.
Located within the Tully Gorge National Park, the Tully Gorge Falls lookout was once a Queensland destination icon. However, in the late 1950s, the Tully River was dammed further upstream for the Kareeya Hydro Power Station. Consequently, Tully Falls has been reduced to a mere trickle and only holds a solid flow following very heavy rain.
However, for me at least, the Tully Gorge lookout viewpoint was more an attraction than the waterfall anyway. The view is mind-blowing and one that truly humbles you.
How to Get to Tully Gorge
So, how do I get to here? First of all, don't mistake the Tully Gorge lookout for the township of Tully. The gorge is accessed from the Tablelands, and not from the coast south of Innisfail.
From Cairns, expect at least a 2-hour 15-minute drive up the Gillies Range Road, past Millaa Millaa and Malanda en route to Ravenshoe, QLD's highest town. From Ravenshoe, you'll need to take a right onto Tully Falls Road (near Little Millstream Falls) and follow it all the way until you see the very obvious sign and turn-off for Tully Gorge.
This road is newly sealed, so you can get here in your average 2WD sedan or hatchback without any trouble.
- Google Maps Pin: Tully Gorge Lookout
However, the road is long and narrow without any phone reception, so make sure to plug in the pin above before you set off.
Car Rentals in Far North Queensland
Cairns is one of the most popular travel destinations in Australia and car rentals quickly book out! I recommend booking well in advance. I always use RentalCars.com as they compare the widest range of rentals across dealerships in the Far North.
Tully Gorge Falls Lookout
As soon as you arrive at the Tully Gorge lookout, you can park your car in the wide clearing and walk directly over to the fence, which is the old Tully Gorge Falls lookout. Usually, the waterfall is all dried up, so your best bet is to take the short 800-metre waterfall track to your right.
At the end of the track, there is a sign signifying the turn-around point. However, since there had been no rain, I wanted to reach the top of the gorge for a better view. I walked left here, through some shrubs and onto the worn, rocky plateau above the drop.
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My Experience at Tully Gorge
It's pretty incredible to think that the rocky platform above the gorge was once the spillway for one of QLD's most powerful waterfalls. Instead, the rocks are now a skeleton of carved-out channels and deep rock pools.
I arrived for sunrise in hopes of catching the sun rising behind the mountain but instead was rewarded with a beautiful sea of cloud. I knew this wouldn't last long, so I grabbed a seat and waited for it to clear.
As I sat alone, I watched in awe as the fog drew back its misty curtains to reveal a Jurassic landscape of raw, ancient beauty. As the rocky island slowly emerged from its nightly blanketed slumber, the gentle sound of flowing rivulets and the echo of a single bird's cry were the only sounds to commemorate this familiar morning clearing.
I wondered how many times this theatric performance had played itself out, unchanged and unhindered for millennia— and I was only present for one sitting, a single drop in time's eternal stream.
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Swimming at Tully Gorge
I think it's important to note that QLD Parks definitely doesn't recommend people walk out to the cliff or spillway or swim in the natural infinity rock pools near the edge. However, if you look online, I'm sure you'll find hundreds of photos of people doing just that. Due to the 700 metre altitude, it was a little bit cold when I visited in the early hours so I didn't take a dip.
Remember, like anything in life, for any risk you take, just remember to use your own judgement, monitor conditions, and most importantly, use common sense.
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More Photos From the Tully Gorge Lookout
Unfortunately, I crashed my drone a week prior and I'd sent it in for repair. So, as I snapped DSLR photos from near the spillway, I was kicking myself at the epic drone opportunities missed. If you have a drone, Tully Gorge lookout would definitely be the place to capture some truly epic aerials.
Either way, I was pretty happy with the photos I captured of my morning at Tully Gorge. Below I've included a few more that I hope will inspire you to go out on the long mission to this incredible slice of Australia!
Don't Miss: More Epic Tropical North Queensland Adventures
Did you enjoy this guide to visiting Tully Gorge and the Tully Gorge Lookout? Be sure to check out some of my other blogs and guides below for more epic Far North Queensland adventure inspiration.
For those in Cairns, I've also written a comprehensive waterfall guide and a "things to do bucket list" that I'm sure you'll love.
Yes Or No Spinner
Thursday 20th of October 2022
I love this blog! I'm from the area and I've never been to the lookout. I'm going to have to check this out!
Wednesday 20th of January 2021
Thanks Olly for your reply. I also called the Tully Tourist Info office and they advised that even though it's only a short distance, it's impossible to get to Tully Falls Road from where you visited, therefore it's down and back on the same road from Millaa Millaa. Thanks again for your story. MIke.
Wednesday 27th of January 2021
No worries Mike, I thought it looked pretty dense and steep. Good luck on the trip!
Thursday 14th of January 2021
Hi, inspirational report so I'll be riding from Millaa Millaa to the falls in a few months and wondering if it's possible, notwithstanding the 700 meter drop to get across to the Tully Gorge Road so I can ride back to Tully.
Thursday 14th of January 2021
The only way I know to get to Tully Gorge Lookout is to take Tully Falls Road, which is accessed from the Tablelands near Ravenshoe. I didn't see any other access roads or paths leading anywhere else from the lookout, and I don't think it connects with Tully Gorge Road from the waterfall itself. You might be able to follow the river up, but it undulates and I'd say this could be pretty dangerous, especially this time of year so I wouldn't do it myself.
Confusing I know, but as far as I'm aware, the only way to get to and from Tully Gorge Lookout is by taking Tully Falls Road, which you could ride to from Millaa Millaa.
Saturday 3rd of October 2020
Thanks for the wonderful share. Your article has proved your hard work and experience you have got in this field. Brilliant. I love it reading.