The Devil’s Pool is a natural pool at the foot of three streams that run through the Babinda Boulders in Queensland.
While it’s a beautiful destination for a hike, and swimming pools in the area are clear and inviting, swimming in the Devil’s Pool itself is a recipe for disaster — 17 people have drowned in the deceptively lush waters since 1959, and even more fatalities have been unearthed in earlier newspaper clippings.
Police Dive Peter Tibbs was one rescue worker who has helped in the search for unfortunate victims had this to say
I’ve been called on four times to try and find bodies down there but one of the most interesting of the cases was a young fella called, Patrick McGann.We thought we knew he was in there, but we couldn’t get to the body because the water is so cold, it’s so deep and it flows so fast. And so eight or ten times we went down and we eventually cut the logs out of the place underwater and on the last day after we’d almost given up, we cut the last log that was in the chute and the body floated freely. And that was five weeks and five days from the time he’d gone missing, so it wasn’t a pretty sight, but it was a great relief to get the body out and satisfy the family.
The Babinda Boulders is not just a beautiful swimming hole, but the area also holds great significance for local indigenous people.
According to legend a beautiful girl named Oolana, from the Yidinji people, married a respected elder from her tribe named Waroonoo. Shortly after their union another tribe moved into the area and a handsome young man came into her life. His name was Dyga and the pair soon fell in love. Realising the adulterous crime they were committing, the young lovers escaped their tribes and fled into the valleys. The elders captured them, but Oolana broke free from her captors and threw herself into the still waters of what is now known as Babinda Boulders, calling for Dyga to follow her. As Dyga hit the waters, her anguished cries for her lost lover turned the still waters into a rushing torrent and the land shook with sorrow. Huge boulders were scattered around the creek and the crying Oolana disappeared among them.
Aboriginal legend says her spirit still guards the boulders and that her calls for her lost lover can still be heard.
Some expansions on the tale even say that the spirit of Oolana actively lures men to their deaths at the Devil’s Pool.
Another explanation is recounted in The Townsville Bulletin...
Babinda, with 4223mm of rain last year, was the state’s wettest town in 2014. There has been little rain for several weeks and the creek this week was low. Looks can be deceiving.
The water, even when low, still has enough force to suck people, especially children, into the tunnels of rock and hold them under.
Fast and furious thunder storms in the Babinda Creek headwaters can send a wall of water hurtling downstream where swimmers and sunbakers can be swept away. A man and a woman standing on the rocks were swept away when a storm sent a flash flood hurtling down the mountainous creek hidden under rainforest. The woman survived, but her friend was swept into the rocks and drowned.
The Townville Bulletin article concludes with....
After the death of James Bennett in 2008 authorities declared the dangerous rock garden area incorporating the Chute, the Washing Machine and the Devil’s Pool a no-go zone. There have been no deaths since that of Mr Bennett.
Foolhardy people still risk their lives by swimming in this treacherous stretch of Babinda Creek which has taken so many lives.
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