Iconic images of Australia’s outback greet you as you head west into the Upper Herbert. A vast and dramatic rangeland landscape boasts seasonal wetlands, waterfalls, spectacular bird life and natural hot springs.
Spanning over 7,500 square kilometres and encompassing more than one quarter of the Wet Tropics region, this unique part of the Wet Tropics really is…’a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of rugged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains…’ (from Dorothea McKellar’s poem My Country, 1904).
In contrast to much of the rainforest-clad Wet Tropics region, here open woodland and savannah landscapes stretch to distant horizons. Stunning rivers in the wet season fade away to melaleuca-lined sandy river banks – with their own beauty. Drivers have to be on the alert for large kangaroos crossing and gangly emus loping along the side of the road.
Amid spectacular scenery, the Herbert River, the most southern of the Wet Tropics region’s river systems, makes its dramatic drop to the coast through the Herbert River Gorge.
Blencoe and Wallaman Falls, both on tributaries of the Herbert, form part of the Girringun National Park. Cascading 90 m to the pool below, the sight and sound of Blencoe Falls is a drawcard to locals and visitors alike, while Wallaman Falls’ main drop of 268 m makes it the country’s tallest single-drop waterfall. These areas provide opportunities for recreation, such as camping, kayaking and hiking, with the ever-present inspirational views over the rugged Herbert River Gorge.
Communities and Culture
Mining and fossicking
During its heyday, townships sprang up throughout the region to support a booming mining industry, particularly for tin and copper.
Today, keen prospectors are attracted to the area, where they can still try their hand at gold and gemstone fossicking.
The small towns of Mt Garnet and Innot Hot Springs, along with a few remnants of old mines, are almost all that remain of the earlier mining boom.
These days, the region is home to remote-living graziers, known for their resilience and self-reliance, who provide beef cattle to domestic and international markets.
Remarkably, Indigenous Australians survived and even thrived in this harsh landscape for many thousands of years.
Today the Traditional Owners of the area still maintain a strong connection to this impressive country.
The whole Wet Tropics region remains the home of a rich and enduring Aboriginal cultural heritage, with at least 17 Traditional Owner groups made up of more than 20,000 Rainforest Aboriginal people. Click on the Local Cultural Connections link for more information on the Traditional Owner groups and history for this Local Landscape.