Far-North Queensland is home to some beautiful swimming spots. Sure, it’s full of crocs and stingers – but if you head away from the beaches and inland to the lush rainforests, you’ll find idyllic waterfalls and cascading river systems that are perfect for an arvo dip.
However, some spots are less safe than others. One such spot? The Devil’s Pool, part of the Babinda Boulders river system. In general, the Boulders are a lovely place to swim – the large, flat main swimming hole is frequented by families and picnicking friends constantly through the year.
But venture further along the walking path and you’ll come across numerous signs warning visitors to avoid the churning waters of the rockier areas. This is called the Devil’s Pool, and it’s a bloody dangerous place for a dip.
While the numerous deaths in the Devil’s Pool are sinister enough, it’s the fact that 16 out of the 17 reported drownings over the last 60 years have been young men. Why are young men almost exclusively dying at this very spot? It’s an Aussie mystery we’ve covered this week on our true crime and mystery podcast, All Aussie Mystery Hour (have a listen on iTunes, Spotify, or below).
The most recent drowning occurred in 2008, when naval seaman James Andrew Bennett, 23, went over safety rails to swim in a spot colloquially called ‘The Washing Machine’.
According to friends who were with Bennett at the time, who spoke to The Townsville Bulletin, he was pulled backwards under the water, as though an invisible hand had dragged him down.
Another man was swept into the waters along with his female partner during a freak flash flood. She survived, he did not.
There are a few theories as to why young men seem to be the main victims of the Devil’s Pool, but the most popular is connected to an Aboriginal Dreamtime story about a young woman, Oolana, who tragically killed herself by drowning in the waters.
According to elders from the area of Babinda, her spirit calls to young men, luring them to their depths.
There’s more to it than that, of course – but you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out the rest, won’t ya?Image: Melissa Mason