Ethel Creek Falls
Paluma is a township of around 25 permanent residents in the Mount Spec ranges of the heritage-listed Wet Tropics. Paluma developed from a mining and forestry background. The first Europeans to arrive here were tin prospectors in the 1870s after an abundance of tin in the mountains. The area remained isolated until a road was built up the range in the 1930s. This industry lasted for years until landowners worked together to shut it down. The tin industry was using the creeks for washing the tin, however this was incompatible with using the creeks for the Paluma s water supply.
How to get there: Drive south from Ingham and the turnoff is located about halfway between Ingham and Townsville. Around 2 minutes south of Frosty Mango you will turn off the Bruce Highway to Paluma and Crystal Creek which is clearly signposted.
Mt Spec Road crosses Little Crystal Creek
Crystal Creek is a picturesque creek that runs for 17.5 km, beginning just below Paluma, Queensland, flowing through the township of Mutarnee and emptying into the Coral Sea. It forms part of the Paluma Range National Park and is known for its division into two popular tourist destinations, namely Little Crystal Creek and Big Crystal Creek. The Little Crystal Creek Bridge is a stone-faced arch bridge in the Mount Spec Ranges built in 1933. It is the only arch road bridge that remains in service in Queensland Crystal clear water flows down the creek filling the deep pools of Little Crystal Creek, making it an excellent natural swimming hole. Crystal Creek is best visited in the wet season (November through to April) when the water flowing down the falls and into the naturally formed pools is fresh and clear. If you go in the dry season, the water falls can be non-existent and the water in the pools can be stagnant.
The drive takes you through the winding range where you can get spectacular views of the rainforest and natural waterfalls that surround the roads. There are picnic spots and BBQs dotted along the roads also. Once you get to the top of the mountain, you will find tea houses, craft shops, picnic tables and of course, the natural water park that is Crystal Creek.
Located approximately 5 kilometres from the Bruce Highway and the turnoff to Big Crystal Creek is clearly signposted. Follow the signs from there past Paradise Waterhole. The rockslides can be reached by parking at the locked gate and walking a few hundred metres to the start of the track going up the hill on your left. Facilities at Big Crystal Creek also include a wheelchair accessible picnic area, barbecues, toilets, as well as a designated camping ground. The most popular of the swimming holes at Big Crystal Creek is Paradise Waterhole, which is substantially larger than that of the Little Crystal Creek waterholes, and can be accessed by a short walk from the picnic area along a bush track.
Further down the road from the picnic area, the Big Crystal Creek Rockslides can be found, which is another popular swimming destination known for its natural waterslide formed by mossy rocks. The track to the rockslides is short, with a steep grade at times. It takes about 10 minutes from the gate to reach this fun destination. There are plenty of smooth rocks for catching some sun along side this natural waterslide. A series of short slides over slick mossy rocks shoot you down into lustrous pools. Excellent for cooling off on a hot summer day, the rockslides offer hours of amusement and relaxation. You will need to obtain a permit to camp overnight at Paradise Waterhole.
Situated further up the range from Big Crystal Creek, approximately two thirds of the way along Mt Spec Road and you ll be heading towards the village of Paluma. This location consists of a number of small crystal clear swimming holes and waterfalls, as well as the Little Crystal Creek Bridge, an historical arch bridge of which construction began in 1932. Facilities here include a wheelchair accessible picnic area, barbecues and toilets.