For those visitors wishing to come to the wetlands for only one day there are several options of how you may wish to best spend your time. We recommend that you arrive as early as possible so that you don’t miss out on too much. Opening hours are 8.30am to 4.30pm, 7 days a week from April to December, and during these hours our cafe is open for teas, coffees, snacks and light meals. Access outside of these hours can be arranged for day visitors who choose to take a safari or to join us for dinner on the deck.
The Mareeba Wetland Reserve features four self guided walking trails whereby you can explore the Savanna and Wetlands environments.
The lagoon walk is 3.7km of flat track, following the shore of Clancy’s Lagoon, which should take approximately 1-1.5 hours to walk. Around this trail you can often find bird species including Jacanas, Forest Kingfishers, Black Swans, and Swamp Harriers, among many others. You’ll walk past Kandimakara, a 19 metre long stainless steel sculpture of a lizard by Mitsuaki Tanabe, and see many species of plants, which the pocket guide you can collect from the visitor centre will tell you about. This walk gives a great view of both the wetland and savannah ecosystems which cover the reserve.
The Pandanus Walk is a 4.8km (2 hour) trail through the bush and out to the Pandanus lagoon, the largest lagoon at the wetlands. You set out over some untouched outback, covered in eucalypt forest in which you can see a wide range of woodland birds, reptiles, and insects. After passing the big washout, a huge area of severe erosion which is slowly being recolonised by plants and is one of the most likely areas on the trails to see the Black Throated Finch, you will come to Pandanus Lagoon, where you can spend a long while watching the birds which live around the lagoon – often you will be lucky enough to see Brolgas and Sarus Cranes, as well as our very own pair of Black Necked Storks (aka Jabiru!). Then it’s back through the bush to the visitor centre, where you can get food and drinks and enjoy a well earned rest looking out over Clancy’s Lagoon from the viewing deck at the visitor centre.
The Lookout Walk is a 2.6km (1 hour) trail which takes you up into the hills behind the visitor centre to see the reserve from a different perspective. You start by passing a large enclosure which is used for checking the health of animals before releasing them into the reserve (most recently, a set of adolescent emus). Then it’s uphill, moving through gum forest where you will find the terrain shifts toward more bare rock, covered in lichens. At the peak is a bench you can take a rest on, whilst looking out over Clancy’s lagoon to the Hann Tableland in the distance. Along the top of the ridge you may well find some delicious wild passion fruit, before descending once again to rejoin the path to the visitor centre.
The Savannah walk is 5.7km (2 hours) which starts off following the lagoon walk, but then splits off to head into the savannah grassland and along Pandanus Creek. On this walk, in addition to the various waterbirds you may see around the lagoon, you are likely to see some of our local kangaroos and wallabies, as well as many of our savannah birds, including Kookaburras, Red-Backed Fairy Wrens, and many species of honeyeater. You may even be lucky enough to see reptiles, such as the Frilled Lizard, and Two-Lined Dragon!
Alternatively, if you fancy a cup of tea and a piece of cake, you can come along and enjoy the wildlife from the comfort of our visitor centre cafe, which looks out directly onto Clancy’s lagoon. Here we have a selection of drinks, ice-creams, snacks and light lunches available. There is also a telescope set up so that you can see right to the far side of the lagoon. No need to walk anywhere, just let the wildlife come to you!
For those of you with a slightly more adventurous frame of mind, you might like to hire one of our two, fibreglass three-person canoes. These are available to hire at $15 per hour, and can be taken out on Clancy’s lagoon, allowing you to silently paddle through the reeds and Lillie’s, and get much closer to many of the waterbirds than can be achieved on land.
Alternatively you can jump on one of our Eco Cruises ($15 per person, $7.50 for children under 12), in our comfortable, electric motored, boat. One of our local guides will tell you all about the wetlands, and show you much of the wildlife which lives on Clancy’s Lagoon. If you’re lucky you might even see some of our Barramundi, the top predators in the lagoons, which can be as large as 150cm.
There are two guided tours around the reserve which are available to day visitors. Both tours require advance booking which can be done by contacting us, as they will require you to enter or leave the reserve outside of our normal opening hours.
This early morning tour sets off from the visitor centre at 7am, so we recommend that you aim to be here for 6:45, to be certain that you don’t miss it. At this time the sun is rising over the reserve, the birds are much more active than in the heat of the day, and the early morning light makes for some spectacular photographic opportunities! Explore the Savanna in one of our 4WD safari vehicles where you will see many species of birds and other animals. Then it’s back to the visitor centre for refreshments and an opportunity to ask your guide any questions you missed through the tour. To take part in this tour you must , as you will not be able to access the wetlands early in the morning unless we know you’re coming.
Our sunset tour departs at 3:30pm(4.00pm October,November & December). It begins with a gentle 30 minute cruise on Clancy’s lagoon with one of our experienced guides, using our quiet electric powered boat. Here you can see up close the wildlife living in the reeds and among the water-lilies including birds such as Jacanas, Black Swans and Australian Pelicans, as well as many species of dragonflies, and you may even spot some of our 20 species of fish, including huge Barramundi and Saratoga. Then it’s into one of our safari vehicles to drive through the bush, spotting birds, mammals and reptiles along the way enroute to Pandanus Lagoon, the largest of the lagoons on the Reserve. There you will spend time with your guide, viewing many more species of birds before continuing on through the Savanna to return to the visitor centre on Clancy’s lagoon, where you can watch the sun set over the Hann Tablelands. This is a beautiful time of day to enjoy a complimentary drink and cheese platter, as well as the evening wildlife of Clancy’s Lagoon. Booking in advance is essential for this trip as it is extremely popular and there is only limited space in our safari vehicles.
See the tours page for more details. Be sure to book your tour ahead of your visit as there are limited spaces on each tour.
Following sundowners on the deck a buffet dinner is served for in house guests. Outside bookings are welcomed, however pre-booking is essential. Be warned – you will often have a Northern Quoll visit the deck during dinner!