Guide To Visiting Finch Hatton Gorge, Queensland

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If you’re a nature enthusiast looking for somewhere incredible to explore in Queensland, then look no further than Finch Hatton Gorge.

With its lush rainforest, cascading waterfalls, and volcanic boulders, this hidden jungle oasis is the perfect place to visit if you need to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

Whether you’re looking to take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear pools, look out for allusive wildlife, or simply immerse yourself in the tranquil ambience, there is no better place to reconnect with nature and indulge in the natural wonders of Queensland.

In this guide, we share our experience of visiting Finch Hatton Gorge and what you need to know about visiting.

Disclaimer: I travelled to Mackay in partnership with Mackay Tourism, but all thoughts, ideas and opinions in this guide are my own. To find more information on travel in Mackay visit their website.

What Is Special About Finch Hatton Gorge?

Araulen Cascading over rocks  Finch Hatton Gorge

Finch Hatton Gorge is a beautiful and enchanting oasis in Queensland that’s known for its natural wonders and cascading waterfalls.

This picturesque gorge, located near the township of Finch Hatton, takes its name from the Finch-Hatton brothers, who were instrumental in the development of the area.

Originally established in the early 1900s, this rural town flourished with the construction of the Cattle Creek Mill in 1918, becoming an important hub in the Pioneer River/Cattle Creek valley.

What sets Finch Hatton Gorge apart is the wonderful landscape of waterfalls; its pristine emerald green rainforest, adorned with colossal volcanic boulder formations and crystal-clear creeks and streams.

The lush and unusual flora and tranquil atmosphere beckon you to slow down the pace and soak it all in.

As you venture through the gorge, you’ll discover stunning waterfalls cascading down the rugged terrain. The gorge offers two magnificent waterfalls: Araluen Falls and Wheel of Fire Falls, each providing a refreshing oasis in the heart of the Australian wilderness.

Can You Swim in Finch Hatton Gorge?

shallow river in Finch hatton gorge

The great news is you can swim in Finch Hatton Gorge, which is a popular past-time for locals in the summer who need a refreshing dip to cool down.

A popular spot to swim in the gorge is by the Wheel of Fire Cascades, which has a large rock pool below the beautiful waterfall that’s excellent for swimming in.

Is Finch Hatton Gorge dog friendly?

To any pet owners who are thinking of taking their pooch to Finch Hatton Gorge, we’re sorry to break it to you, but you’ll have to leave your dog at home.

To protect the pristine nature of the park, Finch Hatton Gorge does not allow dogs.

Wildlife of Finch Hatton Gorge

platypus in water
Platypus in nearby Eungella NP

Finch Hatton Gorge is also a haven for wildlife lovers. The gorge has a diverse ecosystem which is teeming with fascinating creatures and wildlife.

As you walk amongst the winding trails lined with plants and fauna, keep your eyes peeled for the elusive and rare gastric brooding frog, a charming amphibian found only in this region.

Another small creature to keep on watch for is the orange-sided skink, a tiny lizard that live around rocky areas near water.

The Eungella honeyeater, known for its melodic songs, flutters through the canopy, while the Eungella spiny cray scuttles along the creek beds.

The park also attracts a variety of bird species, including the striking Rainbow Lorikeet, Azure Kingfishers, and the majestic Laughing Kookaburra, as well as the sparkling blue birdwing butterflies and ulysses butterflies, which frequently flutter in between the native plants and vines and brings the same sweetness of transformative change.

There are also said to be platypus in a waterhole by Platypus Bushcamp, but know they are very shy creatures so spotting one requires some patience.

Our Experience Visiting Finch Hatton Gorge

I knew as soon as I turned the corner to Finch Hatton Gorge and saw the views that we were in for a treat.

The world began to turn a deeper shade of green and the mountains began to dominate the skyline.

We pulled over by the side of the road on the Bruce Highway just to absorb the soft lighting and take a few photos.

road going through mountains
Mackay Road trip to Finch Hatton Gorge

We continued on and the further we went into the gorge, the prettier it got.

The sugar cane turned to jungle vine and the paved road to gravel road and through several creek crossings.

The kids and I squealed a little and did our best to stop and take photos along the way.

It reminded me of the Daintree – a place of untouched ancient beauty that wraps you in a warm, green embrace and gently soothes your nervous system into a state that can feel its way through the experience.

creek crossing road in jungle

How had I not heard of Finch Hatton Gorge before, which is only located about an hour’s drive from Mackay in Queensland?

Like Eungella National Park, where we had just left behind a couple of cute platypus, I was surprised and elated with what Mackay had to offer.

We parked our car, our eagerness to get out and explore.

We were walking into the thickly covered sub-tropical rainforest so I was not too concerned that I couldn’t find my hat and had to expose my face.

two girls on a trail Finch Hatton Gorge walk Mackay
Hiking at Finch Hatton

We grabbed the camera gear and tripod and made our way into the forest.

The 1.6 km one way Araluen Cascades walk starts from Finch Hatton Picnic Area and has a slight incline leading up to a waterfall and swimming hole.

It took us a lot longer than normal as Kalyra and Savannah decided to take control of the camera equipment and take photos and direct videos of our walk through the forest.

girl taking photo of sister next to tree

It was so cute and I loved watching them interact with the camera and each other in this way.

It gave me a chance to catch my breath and snap a few photos of them myself.

Savannah would walk past a large boulder and exclaim, “Wow, look at this rock. This is the place to take a photo.” Then directed us where to stand so she could get the perfect shot.

mother and child posing beside rock on  trail

She did pretty good, right?

At the end of the walk is the beautiful Araluen Waterfall, gigantic granite boulders for climbing and a serene hidden water hole.

Araulen Cascades running over rocks

This piece of paradise is the preferred place for the locals to come and escape the Mackay heat. It would only take a one-second dip to cool down.

The water was some of the coldest I’ve felt since swimming in the beaches of Cape Town.

The girls persuaded me to jump in and, of course, Savannah captured my inability to breathe on Snapchat!! They were glad that in my packing fluster, I left their swimming costumes at home.

They were content to giggle at me and climb over the boulders to explore, play and rest.

girls sitting on rock looking into arulen swimming hole
sisters posing on a rock

If you have more time, you can walk up a further 1.4 km to the Wheel of Fire Waterfall, another cascade with a deep swimming pool.

The second part of the walk does include a number of stairs and uphill segments, but the view is said to be worth it.

We were running short on time so walked back out to enjoy a relaxing lunch at Ulysses Garden Cafe by the side of the road in the rainforest of Finch Hatton Gorge, which sadly has closed down.

There is still a beautiful picnic area at the start of the trail where you can unpack a picnic.

Forest Flying

It feels like any rainforest in Australia has been turned into a zip-line experience these days, and Finch Hatton Gorge is no different.

One of the most unique things to do in Finch Hatton is to fly across the rainforest canopy and see the jungle from a unique angle.

The Forest Flying Foxes is a zip line that extends for 340 metres at 25 metres above the ground. You can book your zip line experience via the official website here.

Best Time To Visit Finch Hatton Gorge

Finch Hatton Gorge is a wonderful place to visit anytime of the year, however, the best time to visit is between May and October.

During these months, the weather is pleasantly mild, with cool temperatures and gentle breezes that you will appreciate as you hike through the rainforest.

The lush flora and stunning waterfalls are at their prime during this time.

Whether you’re swimming in the refreshing waterholes or hiking along the scenic trails, the late winter and spring months have the most optimal conditions for admiring the beauty of the gorge.

Final Thoughts

kangaroos on the beach Cape Hillsborough

It was only a pressing schedule and the promise of sunrise kangaroos on the beach that dragged me outta there.

On the way back out we passed the spot which first captivated our attention for a photo. There on the roadside, top side up, patiently waiting for my return was my hat!!

We pulled up to collect it adding our giggles into the suitcase of Mackay memories.

P.S. That bugger of a hat was intent on leaving me. The Rocky Mountains were just too spectacular for it to leave so it left me somewhere in Snowmass!

Disclaimer: I travelled to Mackay in partnership with Mackay Tourism, but all thoughts, ideas and opinions in this guide are my own. To find more information on travel in Mackay visit their website.

Have you been to Finch Hatton Gorge or Mackay? Let us know about your experience in the comments!

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