Ahh Tully.. little little Tully. When I tell people I’m going to Tully most will respond with “what, why? There’s nothing to do there”. This little town gets overlooked and skipped by far too many backpackers. Well that’s only half true, Tully is a big big stop for backpackers wishing to complete their second year visa farm work. But other than that, no one really just goes to Tully for a holiday. Although If you’re traveling up or down the east coast of Aus, Tully is worth stopping at for a night… just let me tell you why and I’m sure you’ll love it too.
What is Tully
The little town of Tully is just 158km south of Cairns, approx a 2 hour drive. You can take a Greyhound bus for just $29 from Cairns or hop on the Spirit of Queensland Train. Alternatively, If you’re looking for a super cool guided tour, i would recommend hopping on a Loka Travel hop on hop off tour and let them handle all the arrangements for you. Loka goes to Tully along with a bunch of other unique stops on the east coast.
Essentially Tully is a sugar town, it was created to service the surrounding sugar cane plantations in the area. Nowadays, It’s one of the biggest districts for banana farming in the southern hemisphere. Backpackers travel from afar to do their farmwork in this tiny little town to spend a grueling 80 days slaving away in the farm. I’ve never worked on a banana farm but I’ve heard it’s some of the hardest farm work to do. Carrying 40kg of bananas in the Aussie best all day sound extreme. I don’t know if I would want to spend a whole 3 months straight in Tully but a quick stopover for a night or two is good. Every time Ive walked into Tully, it looks like one of those little ghost towns from a scary movie. Truth. Shops are rarely open and Im not really sure why? With a population of over 2000, you’ll barely see 1% of them. You’ll see some local men hanging out in the bar but yeah that’s about it. That’s okay though! Lucky Im not sending you there for the bustling nightlife. It’s the Tully Gorge Rainforest that has keep on coming back.
Fun facts about Tully:
- It gets the highest rainfall in Australia. So much so that they even got awarded the Golden Gumboot which stands at 7.9m tall at the start of town. The heights represents the highest amount of rainfall recorded in Tully back in 1950. I don’t know what’s with Australia and “Big Things”, but yeah, the Golden Gumboot fits right in with that aussie trend.
- Most UFO sightings in Aus. I’ve never seen anything unusual flying around in the sky but hey, who knows? Maybe you will.
- The world’s deadliest bird, the Cassowary can be seen in in the area around Tully. If you seen these birds, don’t run away! They can be very territorial and attack if they feel threatened. Why so deadly? Three hooks for claws and a horn on their head is why.
- One of the biggest banana farms in the southern hemisphere is in Tully covering around 5000 ha of land.
- Tully is named after the local river, Tully River. The Tully River is known for being one of the best rapid river rafting in the world! Tully will be hosting the 2019 World Rafting Championships.
- The Tully sugar mill produces around 2 million tonne of cane per year. That’s a lot of sugar!!
- in 2011, there was a category 5 cyclone that ripped through the area causing mor than 800 million worth of damage and destroying 75% of the banana crop and half of the sugar cane. Majority of the houses in Tully were also destroyed.
Where to stay
We stay at the Mt Tyson Hotel in the middle of town. It’s just a short 10 minute walk from the train station and 10 minutes from the start of the Mt Tyson trek.
The rooms are recently renovated and fairly comfortable with air conditioning and a little kitchenette in each room. There’s no cooking facilities on site besides a toaster, kettle and microwave but there is a pub down stairs and grocery shop across the road. Laundry facilities are on site to. Check their website here for prices.
What to do
Hike Mount Tyson
I really love this hike! It’s definitely one of my favorite things to do in Tully. It’s a fun and challenging adventure plus a great way to get a taste of the rainforest.
It is quite challenging and a medium-high level of fitness will be required. You should be able to walk on a steep incline for 1 hour straight as that’s what you will be doing. The first part is the most steep and most challenging. If you have ankle or knee problems i would recommend skipping this activity.
Mt Tyson is 640m above sea level with the lookout being at 570m. To go from sea level right up to 570m in just over an hour is a good challenge but definitely worth it when you get to the top.
The start is at end of Brannigan St next to the large water tank. It’s advised you should register your hiking groups details with the local supermarket, in the past some hiking groups have got lost and gone missing … Don’t hike in the dark and stay on the track and you should fine though.
There are sections that require a bit of rock climbing and it can be quick slippery and muddy on the track to.
Things to bring:
- Water bottle
- Insect repellent
- Snack food
- Closed in shoes , preferably hiking boots
- Phone + power bank
- Camera to snap the epic views at the top!
- Optional : salt to get rid of any leeches that may get on you. We often see leeches at the top part of the hike. Don’t panic! Just flick them off or put salt on them.
Swim in the freshwater of Alligators Nest
Don’t worry.. there’s no alligators here. Actually there are no alligators in Aus at all. We do however have crocodiles but have no fear, they don’t live here either!
The Alligators Nest was named after a scouts group called the Alligators who used to meet here. Nowadays, it’s a popular swimming spot for the locals of Tully. The freshwater is the perfect way to cool down on a hot sunny Tully day, especially after the Mt Tyson hike. There is a public BBQ area here to if you want to cook some snags and have a frothy beer.
The Alligators Nest is only 6km out of town of Tully, easy to access if you have your own car but if not, a taxi is the best way to go. There is a set price of $25 one way in a taxi. IMPORTANT: There is no reception at the location so you will need to pre-book your taxi out of there. If not.. your walking back to to town or at least until you get some phone service. Taxi number for Tuly is 131 924.
Swim under the Pony Tail Falls
This waterfall is small but beautiful. There are no sightings of crocodiles in this section of the river so yes, it’s safe to swim. You may however see some turtles or eels but don’t worry, they are mostly harmless. Bring some bread with you and feed the fish/eel to the right side of the entrance.
There’s no reception in this part of the rainforest so i would recommend downloading the area on Maps.me or google maps to use to navigate your way there. It would take approx 20 minutes from the town of Tully.
Raft down one of the best rafting rivers in the world
This is one of the best, if not THE best rafting river in Australia. If you love Adrenalin then this is your jam! The grade 3 and 4 rapids make it the perfect rafting river, the rafting world championships are coming to tully In It’s also one of the best ways to see the rainforest, you’ll be mesmerized by the lush green forest around as you raft down the river. Raging Thunder is the company you need to book with, the staff were so fun and friendly and really looked after the group all while giving us a great day of fun. The burger lunch they provide was also epic and filled our hungry tummys well. TIP: When having lunch, go down to the water and throw some bread in the water to see hundreds of fish, little turtles AND even a massive eel come up for a feed! The eel even lets you touch it( it’s super slimy!)
Want to see more of the rainforest? Why don’t you camp!
There’s a few camping spots in the Tully Gorge Rainforest that are perfect for a little getaway from civilization. Be careful of crocodiles in nearby rivers though, if your uncertain, stay out of the water. It’s not worth risking your life for a quick dip in the water. Cassowarys also live in this rainforest and can be very protective of their territory. Never approach a cassowary if you see one.
Did you know that all of the above activities, transport and accomodation can easily be arranged via your Loka Travel guide if you hop on one of their east coast tours?