North Johnstone River

March & April 2019

I have visited here twice now. On my second visit I went all the way down to the river and that is covered in an update to the latter part of this post.

The roadside lookout

The gap in the Rainforest on the side of the road.

As you drive along the Palmerston Highway on the side of the road you will see a viewing area for the Johnstone River. The trees have been cut down to allow viewing of the river from the road.

The hillside lookout

View from the path down to the river.

From the road side you can walk down the path about 1.7klms to a closer viewing point. The path is very rough, sloped and when wet extremely slippery.

On the walk down to the hillside lookout there are a few spots where you can look down towards the river. Most of the walk is fully covered by rainforest.

From the photos above you should be able to see that the walk is not for everyone. We have had so much rain for months now making the path quite a challenge. Take your time!

The walk to this lookout is about 1.7klm.

The walk to this lookout is about 1.7klm.

The lookout has a barrier fence and signage with some information about the river.

The view you get after walking the path. Yes, rainy days again in the rainforest :(

I intend to go back to this spot and see if I can get some nice photos at sunrise from the lookout, which means walking the track in the dark with a torch.

Down to the River - this is not for most

Down at the river for sunset.

I spent most of the day down at the river and waited for sunset. If you intend to stay until sunset make sure you take a torch as the track back up to the road is not one to be done in the dark without one.

Please read all of the text below before attempting this track as there are some real dangers at this beautiful location.

This path takes you right down to the river.

About 1.5 klms down the path, just before the hillside lookout, you can divert off the track to go down to the river. That warning sign is there for a reason especially considering the track condition up to this point.

As you near the river you will be in pretty much untouched rainforest and isolated. I had the whole place to myself for the entire day with no phone reception.

  • The path is very rough

  • The path is very slippery when wet

  • The path is unclear in places

  • The area has very large wild pigs

  • The rocks at the river are extremely slippery

  • The current in the water was very strong when I visited

  • Take a torch in case you end up on the track in the dark

For my visit down to the river I was hoping to get a rain free day. I had no luck. The path was very muddy and slippery and there were intermittent showers during the walk. I took my time.

The initial and only steps.

After you head down those mossy handrails and steps you really are in the rainforest. Stay on the path unless you like being torn apart by plants. Also pay attention as the path is often overgrown and unclear.

You will come across the tree above along the track down to the river. I took the chance to have a break.

There are spiders webs along the path all the way down to the river.

All the way along the path you will be walking through spiders webs. I ended up carrying a stick and waving it in front of me to knock them down.

By the time I made the return trip back up to the road the spiders webs had been replaced.

My first view of the river.

When I arrived at the river it was a little overcast. Great weather for taking photos of water flowing over rocks but not for long.

Of course here comes the rain!

Just as I got set up in the water for some photos that overcast weather turned into torrential rain heading straight up the river towards me.

Rock formations up stream.

Once the rain had stopped the midday sun came out so I ventured out onto the rock formations upstream of the falls.

I did so pretty much crouching the whole time. I did not worry about getting my shoes wet and walked wherever I felt the safest, which was usually the lowest flat rock even if it was under water.

The rocks are extremely slippery…did I mention you need to be careful here?

Back in the river for some photos.

The above photo is about the best weather I got all day. Despite the less than optimal weather it was a wonderful feeling having the whole place to myself.

Clouds rolling down the river.

As the sun set the clouds started to roll down into the river and it was time for me to start the walk back up the hillside.

The sign marking the track home.

The photo above should really give you an idea of how rough and overgrown the path is especially as you approach the river.

Even with a torch I had trouble staying on the track during the intial part of the return trip. Thankfully there are some ribbons tied to trees to give you an idea of the direction.

I also ran into the largest wild pig I have ever seen on the path home. I flashed the torch in his eyes and off he went.

David Taylor