Mount Hypipamee, The Crater & Dinner Falls
Part of the formation of Far North Queensland and the Atherton tablelands was due to volcanic activity. It is thought there were as many as 15 active volcanoes throughout the region from as early as 200 million to 10 million years ago. The lava and basalt from these eruptions helped form the tablelands the way they appear today. It is easy to find remnants of this history in the region. Lake Eacham, Lake Barrine and Mt Hypipamee are three such examples. The first two are large lakes whereas Mt Hypipamee and Dinner Falls is a lot more unique.
Mt Hypipamee, The Crater & Dinner Falls
Mount Hypipamee and Dinner falls sit towards the top of the Atherton Tablelands over 1000m above sea level and is the origin of the Barron River which flows through Kuranda and down the magnificent Barron Falls. The Barron River has numerous scenic spots and much history to it. This begins at it’s beginning, Mt Hypipamee. There is not only a stunning waterfall to swim in but also a huge volcanic crater over 130m deep. From the carpark the circuit walk takes about 45 minutes without a swim but you’d be mad not to take a dip at Dinner Falls.
It is thought that Mt Hypipamee was formed by the build up of gas under the ground and when the pressure built up it broke through causing the massive crater which is now part of our World Heritage listed Wet Tropics. This is known as a diatreme, where gas is expelled but little volcanic lava. It is the only example of its kind in Far North Queensland. The walk to the crater is only about 400m from the car park, but it is a stunning walk never the less with a beautiful array of flora found at this altitude. On arrival it is quite amazing looking down into the crater, I have even heard people say that it makes them feel acrophobic (afraid of heights). It is a long way down to the lake at the bottom but you can still pick out the ducks floating around the water. Its definitely worth venturing to have a look at.
The walk continues down and around the national park towards Dinner Falls. This is about as high up the Barron River as you will get. Due to the slightly higher altitude the water is definitely a bit chilly but you have to get in. Once in the water its possible to swim all the way to the waterfall and get the perfect natural massage. 100% worth it.
The other big drawcard of the park is due to its altitude and volcanic history. With its higher placement and rich basaltic soils it has a huge variety of wildlife for such a small region. It is the best place to spot many varieties of cute possums, many of which are only found in this region, bower birds, birds of paradise and occasionally a rare Cassowary or Lumholtz tree kangaroo. The area is stunning during the day but it really comes alive at night. There is no camping permitted in the national park but it is worth visiting during the night to try and spot many of the nocturnal creatures including the ringtail possums, heaps of frogs, and even some glow in the dark fungi. The night truly comes alive in the rainforest and the sounds are worth coming for alone as many animal wake to begin foraging.
If you have the time to get out there, Mt Hypipamee is my volcano of choice in the region, and Dinner Falls is a great place to let off some steam.