Devil’s Pool: Australia’s Most Haunted Spot

There are many devilish places in the world longing to pull their victims to their doom. But is there any sort of paranormal energy in those places, making them cursed and hostile to visitors? Many locations on our planet make us consider these questions due to their strangeness and inhospitality. An example of such a place is a famous tourist spot, with splendid beauty and attraction, that also holds some deep, dark secrets.

Three streams pour down from the top of Mt. Bartle Frere, meandering through unspoiled rainforest wilderness, and converging among some large boulders near an ordinary village called Babinda, 60 kilometres south of Cairns in northern Queensland, Australia. The Babinda Boulders are well-known for the welcoming, crystal-clear waters of the surrounding streams and the beautiful, scenic natural beauty that can be found all around, attracting thousands of travellers to the area every year. However, what many hikers, swimmers, and photographers don’t know is that this beautiful spot has a nickname, “The Devil’s Pool”, and is feared by many locals due to its disturbing history and horrible reputation.

Babinda Boulders - Devil's Pool - Australia
Devil’s Pool or Babinda Boulders is a natural pool at the confluence of three streams among a group of boulders near Babinda, Queensland, Australia. The pools have taken 17 lives since 1959. Despite that, this place is an iconic Cairns attraction and a popular swimming hole and tourist attraction south of Cairns. It is a classic example of the fast-flowing tropical creeks in the area that are perfect for afternoon dips in the cool water to combat the tropical heat. The creek is lined with huge boulders and the clear freshwater weaves between the obstacles to fill large pools where people can swim. Just behind The Boulders is Mt Bartle Frere, Queensland’s tallest mountain, from which Babinda Creek’s cool water originates. The section of the creek where the water rushes over massive granite boulders, smoothing and shaping them, is referred to as The Babinda Boulders.

Devil’s Pool Indigenous Legend

The native people have avoided this mysterious, quiet pool for years, and one tale regarding this pool is particularly tragic. It is said that there was once a beautiful young lady of the Yidinji tribe named Oolana, who married a reputable man of her tribe.

Later, she engaged in an affair with a handsome younger man named Dyga from another tribe, which led her to run away to the wilderness with her new lover. The husband of Oolana was a powerful man and he started the search for the couple to end their deceiving relationship.

Devil’s Pool Indigenous Legend
Devil’s Pool Indigenous Legend

When Oolana and her lover were surrounded and separated at the Babinda boulders, she jumped into the water and drowned herself to death to avoid spending her life without her true love. According to the Aboriginal tales, she still roams this pool and lures young men to their deaths today.

This legend has become increasingly prominent considering that an enormous number of young men have bafflingly met their demises here over the years.

'If you listen closely, it’s thought you can still here Oolana’s cries for her lost lover,' according to the indigenous legend
‘If you listen closely, it’s thought you can still hear Oolana’s cries for her lost lover,’ according to the indigenous legend

Mysterious Deaths at Devil’s Pool

Since 1959, at least 17 individuals (and even more still in old news cut-outs) have drowned here under very peculiar circumstances. The casualties are said to be pulled and held underwater as if by invisible hands. The site is supposed to be especially forceful towards men.

In one story, a young fellow visiting the region tried to kick at one of the signs there, after which he slipped, fell into a pool, and suffocated. Other strange deaths here are not as clear.

For example, 24-year-old Peter McGann was climbing a rock in 1979 when he jumped into a little hole and slipped, sending him tumbling into the water beneath. After this, he suddenly just disappeared. It would take groups of divers more than five weeks to finally find his body stopped down in the murk in the lower part of the pool.

There was also the case of a young couple washed away by a flash flood while enjoying the view; the woman survived while the man was never seen again.

According to his friends, in 2010, 23-year-old Tasmanian marine, James Bennett, was swimming in a calm area nearby when he was suddenly pulled backwards, as if by an “invisible hand”, that appeared to pull him towards a section of churning white water at the back of the pool. James is said to have then reached up to grab a branch, which broke off, whereupon his head went underwater, and he hung helplessly in the water for no apparent reason with only the tips of his fingers sticking out of the surface as he struggled for breath. Three days later, his body was found floating in a steady section of the stream.

Warning Signs

Most of the area is now closed, however, people often get drawn to it when locals invite them. There are now a lot of railings and warning signs set up to specify the places that are safe for swimming.

Warning sign - Devil's Pool Walk
Warning sign – Devil’s Pool Walk

The reason for the deaths in this stream depends on who you ask. The officials state that it is because of the fast flow of water, sudden floods, and random currents due to the natural lay of the stream and the boulders dotting it. They believe this could then pull people underwater and press them against rocks or ram them against sunken logs, making them drown in a way that seems mysterious and supernatural.

The high oxidation of water in some areas of the pool may also be a reason for it. Even expert swimmers may find it difficult to navigate there. One local official said, “They call it the Washing Machine where [he] went in because it goes around and around. It’s all bubbles so there is no buoyancy. It’s dangerous water. It sucks you under. You always see people swimming in the dangerous holes. You don’t know when a flood could come down from up top.”

However, other people say that not all the deaths were the result of swimming. 16 out of 17 victims from of the official number of deaths were male, and some of them suddenly slipped and fell into the water, hence proving that the legend might be true to some extent.

Here we have an ancient myth interwoven with modern ghost stories and strange deaths, so it’s difficult to distinguish what might be true and what is pure lore. Regardless of whether or not you believe in the legends about a dead villager, you must still wonder if this is a place imbued with negative, malevolent energy. Is it a natural phenomenon, a spirit, or something else? No one knows. But you should really think about it before taking a dip in this mysterious place.

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