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  The Mossman FallsRon Haines
  Panoramic views from Mossman Bluff, 1981 (Photos: Ron Haines)  
  Panoramic views from Mossman Bluff, 1981 (Photos: Ron Haines)  

I had often wondered about the little known falls situated up in the cloud shrouded mountains of the Mossman River. They had an air of mystery to me.

The opportunity to make a ‘once in a lifetime’ trek to this very isolated place came in the Easter of ’81 when five of us, members of the Cairns Bushwalking Club, set out from Mount Spurgeon on the Carbine Tableland in an attempt to reach the remote Mossman Falls from the upstream side.

The walk down the rugged and pristine grandeur of the upper Mossman River via Doolans, Platypus and Roots Creeks was relatively easy compared to what lay ahead. After reaching the top of the gorge and falls on the afternoon of the second day, our troubles were about to begin… the falls were impassable.

  The Mossman Falls Expedition (Artwork courtesy of Ron Haines)  
  The Mossman Falls Expedition (Artwork courtesy of Ron Haines)  

The Mossman Falls are situated directly below the Mossman Bluff. They comprise very steep rapids and a series of short falls. The river plunges down approximately 1000 feet in less than a mile. As most of the water flows beneath the huge boulders piled up through the gorge, it cannot be fully viewed from above. Above the vertical face of the Bluff, a large rock juts skywards – the Devil’s Thumb. The only way around the gorge was to negotiate the steep slopes of the northern side.

In the slippery conditions progress was difficult and slow. Numerous creeks and falls flowed into the gorge. Because of the unforgiving terrain, we were lucky to find shelter that night under an enormous overhanging rock.

Late next day we finally made it to the bottom of the falls, totally exhausted! It had taken almost one and a half days to negotiate the falls section. After a good night’s rest we were off down the river to the ‘Gorge’ National Park. Although the final section of the walk proved wet and slippery and the river strong flowing, compared to what we had just come through it was a mere stroll in the park!

  Mossman Bluff towers over Mossman Falls (Photo courtesy of Ron Haines)  
  Mossman Bluff towers over Mossman Falls (Photo courtesy of Ron Haines)  

When we finally reached the ‘Gorge’ picnic area it was raining and deserted, apart from the Parks ranger who kindly drove us back to Cairns and the end of our epic adventure.

In conclusion, it was indeed a special privilege to travel through the magnificent country of the Mossman River, especially the great beauty of Platypus Creek which reminded me of:

The green of the forest
Is the mind’s best light
And none but the man on foot
Can evaluate which is basic and eternal.


Ron Haines

Ron joined the Cairns Bushwalking Club in 1977. In the following years the club grew in membership, scope and social activities. During this time Ron took part in many great walks with the club in the Wet Tropics and further afield. These included a 400km Cape York walk in 1980, the Mossman Falls walk in 1981, a 150km walk from Portland Roads to Moreton Telegraph Station in 1982, and a walk from Mount Lewis via Half Ton Creek and McLeod River to Mount Carbine in the early 1980s. In 1988 Ron was a tour guide at Mossman Gorge and is grateful to the late Charlie McCracken for teaching him about the natural and cultural history of the gorge.

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