Tourists warned over hidden threat at popular Aussie swimming hole

The water level at Trevathan Falls in Cooktown has risen by 2 metres, locals have warned.

Tourists have been warned against diving at a typically busy swimming hole after Cyclone Jasper and the following weeks of heavy rainfall caused it to disappear.

The water height at Trevathan Falls in Cooktown, Queensland, has increased by an astonishing two metres since the state was lashed by heavy weather between Christmas Day and the first days of 2024, locals have revealed. Sand and sediment from the storm has completely covered the deep hole and a band of rocks — that was clearly visible just last month— a spot where visitors often dive from.

People standing at the bottom of Trevathan Falls where the swimming hole was.
The water level at the Trevathan Falls swimming hole has risen by two metres. Source: Facebook/Rob Elaine Giblin

A man who lives in the area posted before and after photos of the “unrecognisable” tourist attraction on Facebook on Friday. “Hopefully it will return to a great swimming hole once again soon,” he said, explaining he took the picture of a person standing on the sediment at the base of the falls a couple of days earlier.

Other locals have warned visitors not to trek to the falls, and especially not to jump into the now shallow water.

Swimming hole 'completely gone'

The images have shocked other Aussies, who said it was “sad” to see such a “beautiful place” be “completely” altered. “That's insane!” one person commented online, while another described the natural event as “wild”.

Before and after photos of the water level and how much it has increased.
Visitors have been warned not to jump from the rocks as usual. Source: Facebook/Rob Elaine Giblin

“Swimming hole has gone. Full with sand and sediment due to landslides and movement following the recent flooding disaster up here,” a local explained. Others said they were concerned the falls could take up to 10 years to return to normal. “It will be fine. It’s a creek. It’s happened before many times,” someone else assured. “It won't take long to get back to how it was. That sand will move away, it never really stops moving.”

Trevathan Falls could take months to recover

After reviewing the images, Dr Annie Lau, a coastal geomorphologist, told Yahoo News Australia that while she “can’t tell how long it will take to return to normal”, she believes the “high groundwater level caused by the heavy rainfall is the reason for the change” at Trevathan Falls.

The water from the falls and the swimming hole drains down to Trevathan Creek and eventually enters the Annan River. “While a lot of water flows downstream in the channels as surface water, even more water moves in the sub-surface as groundwater through the soil profile,” Dr Lau said.

“After the cyclone, the catchment is now saturated with groundwater after the heavy rain, so drainage at the subsurface level is slower than normal. That can explain why the water in the water hole doesn’t get drained as quickly as it normally does, therefore increasing the water level.

o return to normal, depending on the weather.”

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