Lake Barrine - Things To Do In Cairns | Cairns Tours

Lake Barrine Volcanic Crater Lake

Over 17,000 years ago, a huge volcanic eruption occurred in the area now known as Lake Barrine. After evacuating its deadly, hot molten lava, this volcano left a huge open crater, which then filled with water and created the lake that is so popular today with tourists and locals alike. The lake – which is 730 metres above sea level – is the largest lake formed by volcanic actions within the area.


Lake Barrine is a freshwater lake that is bustling with the activities of its resident wildlife. Surrounded by stunning World Heritage Listed National Park, the lake is a haven to this wildlife, who relies on it for water, food and breeding grounds. It is also an attraction to humans, who come to enjoy the immense peaceful beauty of the area, the possible water activities and even the quaint little Lake Barrine Tea House, which is renowned for its delicious homemade goodies, such as scones with jam and cream.

If you’d like to explore this wondrous area, there is a six-kilometre hiking trail around the lake on the crater’s rim, which is an extremely enjoyable walk and full of chances to spot wildlife. The National Park surrounding the lake contains the impressive and majestic twin Kauri Pines, which are one of the world’s oldest conifer pine species. The pines at the lake are over 1100 years old! Definitely a sight to behold. You can enjoy a wildlife cruise or a guided walk through the surrounding National Park too. You can also choose to simply spend all of your time at the lake, splashing around in the water and cooling off after a long day in the tropical Queensland sun – just watch out for the eels!

In fact, the Long-finned eels (Anguilla Reinhardtii) at Lake Barrine are a marvel unto themselves. The entire eel population of the lake consists of females, who reside comfortably in the lake for around 10 to 15 years, before the urge to breed hits them. At this stage, these amazing creatures climb about 700 metres OVER LAND to the Musgrave River, then travel all the way to the oceans near New Caledonia, where they then mate. Their female offspring (Elva) then make the return journey (including back over the land) and the process starts again. Unbelievable, isn’t it?

Some of the other amazing species you may encounter include:

Amethystine Python – Australia’s largest snake. Can be found in the cooler season sunbaking around the lake.

Eastern Water Dragon – small but fierce looking lizard. Found sunbaking around the edge of the lake, in the water and on logs. Great camouflage and can hold its breath underwater for a whopping hour and a half!

Australian Pelican – The largest water bird in Australia. Found in, around and above the lake, scooping up fish with its huge bill.

Saw-Shelled Turtle – Short-necked turtle found primarily in the water, but may come out to lay eggs or sunbake, so look for them close to the waterline.

Whistling, Pacific Black and White Eye (AKA Hardhead) Ducks – These cute birds are everywhere around the lake. You literally cannot miss seeing at least one of these species.

Musky Rat Kangaroo – Smallest of all kangaroo species, about the size of a large guinea pig! This cute as a button macropod can be found foraging on the forest floor… if you’re quiet.

Australian Brush Turkey – This interesting fellow is not as commonly found as it once was, due to forest clearing, but can be found in the scrub at Lake Barrine. You’ll find them scratching around for food, and if you’re really lucky, you may even spot one of their impressive egg mounds.

So, as you can see, there are plenty of reasons to visit this amazing destination – even if it’s just for a swim!

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