Environmental Science
articles by Will Kemp

Cairns water – from the source to the sea


Cairns is a coastal city in tropical Far North Queensland. The local authority, Cairns Regional Council (CRC), serves an area of 4129 km2 and a population of approximately 165,000 – which has increased by 37,000 since 2002 (CRC, 2013). CRC owns and operates the town water supply systems in the urban parts of its area. Raw water is extracted from 15 locations and is stored in 76 reservoirs after treatment. The main population area – Cairns city and suburbs – is supplied from Copperlode Falls Dam and Behana Creek (CRC, n.d.).

Copperlode Dam has a capacity of 37GL and a maximum extraction flow of 123ML/day. Water extraction is entirely gravity fed (Reimann, D., pers. comm., July 23, 2013). The water from Copperlode Dam and Behana Creek is treated at CRC’s Tunnel Hill water treatment plant (CRC, n.d.). After treatment and supply to the reticulation system, water samples from a number of points is tested for quality once a week by CRC’s Water Testing Laboratory (Wuth, M., pers. comm, July 23 2013).

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Saddle mountain walking track

The Saddle Mountain walking track is between Smithfield and Kuranda, about 15km north of Cairns, in far north Queensland, Australia. Part of the route goes through the Kuranda National Park and part is through the Smithfield Conservation Park.

In their book “Tropical Walking Tracks”, Kym Dungey and Jane Whytlaw suggest that the best way to walk this track is to do it one way, starting at the Kuranda end and finishing at James Cook University. However, their route seems unsatisfactory to me – for several reasons. Firstly, a one-way walk requires complicated transport arrangements. Secondly, their route starts at a point on the Kuranda Range road which isn’t particularly easily accessible. And, thirdly, the end of the walk follows a route that’s used by downhill mountain bike riders and could be quite dangerous.

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