The Mystery of Lake Eachem

Lake Eachem is a crater lake formed 12,000 years ago when magma exploded from the earth sort of like a squeezed pimple, leaving behind a pock mark. This pock mark filled with water. A diversity of plants sprung up around it. And, here’s the mystery, although there are no rivers flowing into the lake, fish somehow found their way into it. One of these fishes – the Lake Eachem Rainbow Fish – is found nowhere else on earth. Unfortunately, larger species of fish were introduced into Lake Eachem and pretty soon they had eaten the Rainbow Fish to extinction. Or had they?

How did fish get into Lake Eachem? Photo: BessMurph
How did fish get into Lake Eachem? Photo: BessMurph

It turned out that ichthyophiles (or ‘fish enthusiasts’ to us common folk) had been illegally collecting the Rainbow Fish and successfully breeding them. The Rainbow Fish was reintroduced, but of course, without removing their predators, the population was pretty soon wiped out again. However, the fish species lives on in aquariums. It has also been spotted in local rivers. Now, divers come to the clear waters of Lake Eachem to enjoy watching the turtles, crayfish, fish and in search of a (possibly mythical) giant fish named Barry that is rumored to inhabit the lake.

Floating on Lake Eachem, near Cairns. Photo: KhyOrchard
Floating on Lake Eachem, near Cairns. Photo: KhyOrchard

Today, Lake Eachem makes a beautiful swimming hole with clear water that takes on beautiful hues of emerald green and turquoise blue. It is home to fish, turtles (to the left of the pontoon), Boyds Forest dragons and bird life. A paved path circles its perimeter through lush rainforest. There are pontoons to jump off, picnic tables, a grassy bank for sun bathing, and restrooms.

Admiring the emerald and turquoise colors of Lake Eachem, near Cairns. Photo: DebOnquiqui
Admiring the emerald and turquoise colors of Lake Eachem, near Cairns. Photo: DebOnquiqui

Getting There

Lake Eachem is up on the tablelands, one hour and ten minutes south-west of Cairns. View it on a map. On the journey you’ll pass the Ross and Locke swimming hole and Lake Barrine, another crater lake with tea rooms, and a good spot for lunch.

Rainforest trail around Lake Eachem near Cairns. Photo: BackpackerGermany
Rainforest trail around Lake Eachem near Cairns. Photo: BackpackerGermany
Cooling off in Lake Eachem near Cairns. Photo: CourtneyArmitage
Cooling off in Lake Eachem near Cairns. Photo: CourtneyArmitage
Lake Eachem near Cairns. Photo:DanielleAKABillie
Lake Eachem near Cairns. Photo:DanielleAKABillie
Curtain fig on rainforest trail at Lake Eachem. Photo: ElliotClarke_
Curtain fig on rainforest trail at Lake Eachem. Photo: ElliotClarke_
Lake Eachem at sunset. Photo: FillipBakaj
Lake Eachem at sunset. Photo: FillipBakaj
Swimming at Lake Eachem. Photo
Swimming at Lake Eachem. Photo” FionaLane88
Lake Eachem crater lake near Cairns. Photo: iamomgaz
Lake Eachem crater lake near Cairns. Photo: iamomgaz
Lake Eachem crater lake near cairns. Photo: InaDNoswad
Lake Eachem crater lake near cairns. Photo: InaDNoswad
Lake Eachem crater lake near cairns. Photo: JoCainX
Lake Eachem crater lake near cairns. Photo: JoCainX
Rainforest trail at Lake Eachem crater lake near cairns. Photo: MaruSiadol
Rainforest trail at Lake Eachem crater lake near cairns. Photo: MaruSiadol
Lake Eachem crater lake near cairns. Photo: NicolePointing
Lake Eachem crater lake near cairns. Photo: NicolePointing
Lake Eachem crater lake near cairns. Photo: SupMate_Cairns
Lake Eachem crater lake near cairns. Photo: SupMate_Cairns
Lake Eachem crater lake near cairns. Photo: SupMate_Cairns
Lake Eachem crater lake near cairns. Photo: SupMate_Cairns
The rainforest trail at Lake Eachem crater lake near cairns. Photo: TimCoulson
The rainforest trail at Lake Eachem crater lake near cairns. Photo: TimCoulson
Lake Eachem crater lake near cairns. Photo: BessMurph
Lake Eachem crater lake near cairns. Photo: BessMurph

More information

ROAD TRIPPING: If you are planning to hire a campervan to roadtrip Australia, I recommend Camperman because they are upfront about costs. Road tolls, insurance, and extra drivers are all included in the quote. They also have campervans for sale that they will buy back when you’re finished.

WHERE TO STAY: The Misty Mountain Rainforest Retreat is a secluded villa for couples set in the rainforest just down the mountain from Lake Eachem. It is so private that if you see another person during your stay, you will get your money back.

For more adventures, consult the blog map.

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