Babinda is a small, Australian, rural town of about 1200 people. No one in the town seemed in much of a hurry and my day trip there was very enjoyable. Babinda was thought to be named after the Aboriginal word for ‘waterfall’ which is Binda. It is not known if it obtained its name from the annual rainfall to the town or from the waterfalls which are present near ‘the Boulders’ area, a few kilometres out of town.
The main street of Babinda
The town is proud that it is Australia’s wettest town, receiving the highest annual rainfall in the country, although nearby towns of Tully and Innisfail might disagree with that. Each year they fight it out to see who will win the prized ‘Golden Gumboot’ award for who has received the most rain and is a source of much rivalry.
Rain can have its downside though as Babinda was torn apart by Cyclone Larry in 2006, causing great damage to buildings and agriculture in the area. 80% of the towns buildings were damaged and brought about the closure of the towns sugar mill, which was a huge blow to locals as it was the main source of employment for the town.
The Babinda Mill recently closed down
I wandered up and down the main street which comprised of all of the shops. The local people were all extremely friendly with strangers saying ‘good morning’ to me as I looked around. The bakery was reminiscent of a time rarely seen these days and they had cream buns that made my mouth water and the place was full of pies, cakes and bread that looked scrumptious. The main street had all the usual shops you would expect, a supermarket, a police station, mechanics and a picture theatre. Of course what town would be complete with a pub? The Babinda State Hotel boasts one of the longest bars in Queensland and another claim to fame is the fact that it was the only Hotel to be built by the Queensland government. It opened in 1917 just after the sugar mill opened to combat the illegal sale of alcohol in the area.
The Babinda State Hotel
The town not only has old world charm but shows off some of its natural beauty in a spot called the ‘Boulders’. With the highest rainfall in Australia, the water has to go somewhere and it rolls down off the mountain over a huge rocky valley. The rocks are all smooth after many years of erosion. Aboriginal legend has it that a young couple from rival tribes fell in love and ran away together, only to be tracked down in this area. Thousands of years before Romeo and Juliet (or European settlement) this love story was being played out in Babinda. When corned, Oolana, the female of the couple, threw herself into the still waters below, yelling out the name of her lover on the way. According to legend, these screams turned into rushing water and huge boulders were thrown up and the crying Oolana disappearing amongst them, killing herself rather than living without her true love. The spirit of Oolana is still said to be present in the area with many young men dying in the rapids and rocks in modern times. There is no denying that the boulders is a spectacular place and a great place to cool down in the tame pools and lagoons. Just take head of the signs and only swim in the designated areas as you don’t want to fall victim to Oolana curse.
Legend has it the 'Boulders' area of Babinda is cursed
Heading back to town we stop and chat to the owner of the town’s paintball business. He is ex Special forces for the army and has put much thought into the layout and design of the battle zones, I only wish I had the time to have a game or two it looks like hours of fun.
The town is RV friendly and we pass two designated areas for these nomadic travellers’ to park for the night. Both free, one is near the Boulders and the other on the train station side of the highway, it looks very well patronised with many RVs and vans parked there and council are in the process of building a shower block.
If you get a chance and you are in the area, I would recommend a day trip to Babinda and soak up its’ friendly nature and look around, it is bound to put a smile on your face.
The local cafe took coffee creation to another level
The local takeaway shop was known for the size of their hamburgers
The paintball range was pictureque, snuggled in behind the mountains
The Golden Gumboot trophy stands with pride in the post office window
A local business gets their message across with humour