How much fun can you really have in the pouring rain at Jumna Dam?
Lots apparently! Jumna Dam is about 7km from Irvinebank and 22km outside of Herberton on the Atherton Tablelands is a local paradise – and if it was up to them, they’d keep it a secret!
We had been dying to get out of town and away from the hustle and bustle of life – but the wet season was upon us here in Far North Queensland and everything was flooding.
We tried to go to Blencoe Falls, near Cardwell – closed due to flooding.
We then tried to go to Archer Creek rest area – flooded.
Davies Creek – forget it. Flooded.
Literally everywhere was flooded!
The plan was to meet up with one of Raf’s new Insta mates, Wayne Derksen, from Outback Touring Australia … but it wasn’t looking very promising.
So Wayne suggested Jumna Dam, which was only around the corner from his place.
Getting to Jumna Dam from Herberton
It’s isolated and remote
Getting to Jumna Dam from Cairns
Not to be discouraged by the weather, we jumped in the car and headed west, on the road to Herberton, almost 100km from Cairns, Qld, Australia.
Thankfully the rain had subsided. We eventually got there after taking a goat track, probably for motorbikes, and set up camp. We had dinner … and then it started.
A nasty storm had rolled over and it started bucketing down. The rain was absolutely insane – there was so much of it coming in sideways the tent started to leak.
We were both keeping a brave face, wondering if we’d live to tell the tale and secretly wondering when it would be time to pull up stumps and get into the car.
Locals told us this the next day after we’d powered through about 4-5 inches of rain that night – and all we could say was “we know!”.
But we all survived, including the amazing tent.
We’d only planned to stay one night and ended staying three. It was seriously a great spot and while we had some more rain in that time, nothing like that first night.
The next day, we finally met up with Wayne and decided to stay put. The weatherman had said the rain would stick around and anywhere we wanted to go was probably closed due to flooding.
Plus Jumna Dam is gorgeous. It’s quiet and picturesque and we were the only ones there, apart from a lone canoeist and a few birds. We didn’t even see any kangaroos!
That nerve-wrecking night
The next day!
Camping at Jumna Dam
The campground, if you can call it that, is not a very well-known spot and the locals don’t like to tell people about it because it becomes a rubbish dump after the tourists leave. And sometimes “hoons” on motorbikes and in cars rev through the area disrupting the tranquillity.
But when we were there it was perfect.
There are no amenities or bins – so what you bring in your must take with you.
When we were there – obviously in the wet season – the dam was 90 per cent full, but at other times of the year, Wayne, our new mate and local guide, tells us sometimes there’s no water in it at all and it can be a dry dust bowl.
Swimming: You can swim there – so say the locals – as there are no crocs this far up. But, as always, play it croc safe and be aware.
We didn’t go swimming, preferring the wade in the water. But we did find an amazing natural spa bath at the Day-use Area of Jumna Park. The recent rain had meant it was flowing with gusto and it was seriously like being a spa bath. It was perfect.
What can you do there?
There’s a lot to do if you enjoy bushwalking, chasing waterfalls, swimming, water activities, boating and fishing – not that there’s many fish in the dam. You can take your boat out on the water though or bring your own kayaks. We took the bikes and did some mountain bike riding.
But we spent most of our time bogged! More on that later.
We went for a walk up the mountain with Wayne, who was keen to take us on an adventure to find a waterfall that he’d never seen in full flood.
But there was a catch – there’s a path to follow as such and we had to scale two mountains. No mean feat.
But it was worth it to get to a place that no one else would probably dare to. We walked down a steep mountain, through a running creek, over logs in the bush, and up a mountainside of loose rocks. While it got the heart rate up, the heart rate was already up from the nervous adrenaline pumping through the body!
It was on our way back to the campsite that we ran into trouble – quite literally running over a tree to stop from getting bogged! It didn’t matter, we got bogged only a few metres down from that – FOR 2 HOURS! Every move Rafa made, bogged.
We only need to get 20m, but every time we inched closer … BOGGED.
The 5 inches of rain from the previous night had made the place like cement slurry and it was near impossible.
Our snap strap point under that car came loose sending a piece of metal the size of your fist plummeting into the back of Wayne’s car, busting the water tank, license plate, and lights.
The big mistake was not using a dampener on the rope. Thank god, everyone was ok and the car could be fixed. Lesson learned.
Finally, we were out – it took Rafa, Wayne, and another by-stander to get us out. Did someone say beers and barbie?
We slept well that night.
The next day Wayne – and his family – took us to a very sacred spot only the locals know about. Natural spring pools. It was cool and so refreshing. The kids loved it.
Watch our video on the adventures we had at Jumna Dam
Why should you check this place out?
It’s a surprise. We were not expecting to do or see all the things we did. We met the locals, swam in freshwater springs sacred to the Aboriginals of the area, chased waterfalls, went mountain bike riding, went bushwalking, and just relaxed. Your experience will be what you make it.