Free Things to do in Cairns for Families – Explore Copperlode Dam

Have you visited Copperlode Dam recently? This oasis of tropical rainforest and freshwater lies only 30-minutes from the centre of Cairns City and yet I had completely forgotten about it. Sure, I had popped up the road a number of times to check out the cool views of Cairns but it is only when you continue upwards that you unlock its true beauty…..

Things to do in Cairns - Copperlode Dam

Views over Cairns on the way up to Copperlode

The road to Copperlode Dam is slow and windy, with the occasional cyclist that you’ll need to navigate past thanks to it being a popular training circuit BUT it is a truly stunning drive. Lush rainforest frames the road and you’ll get the occasional tantalising view back across Cairns and later, into Redlynch Valley. If you’ve got visitors you definitely need to take them up this way.

At the top you’ll find gates that lock at 6pm sharp each day so make sure you plan your journey accordingly. Your drive ends at a carpark and just up the adjoining steps is a massive timber deck with impressive views across the lake.

Things to do in Cairns - Copperlode Dam

Views from the deck at Copperlode Dam

A café used to operate here but right now you’ll find free tea and coffee available, along with a vending machine and table and chairs to use. The good news is there’s a rumour that the kiosk may open again in the near future.

Things to do in Cairns - Copperlode Dam

The view over Lake Morris from the main lookout

The view across Lake Morris is what you are here for. Rainforest literally tumbles down from the surrounding hills and meets the water’s edge. It’s the perfect scene and it makes you want to stay a bit longer and explore – which you can do via Copperlode Dam Fish & Kayak or by setting off on a walk (see the end of this post for more details).

Things to do in Cairns - Copperlode Dam

The functional side of Lake Morris

Of course there is a functional side to Copperlode Dam. The lake has been created as a water reservoir for the people of Cairns.

Things to do in Cairns - Copperlode Dam

You can drive down to the spillway and walk out on the bridge for a closer look at the actual dam

You’ll see some infrastructure off to the right hand side of the lake and it’s possible to drive down and then walk out onto the causeway to get a closer look and gain a better understanding via all the informative signs.

Things to do in Cairns - Copperlode Dam

The picnic area is grassy and scenic at Copperlode Dam

Most importantly for families there is a great picnic and FREE Barbeque area that has a small, but functional playground next to it.

Things to do in Cairns - Copperlode Dam

The BBQ’s are squeaky clean, FREE and have views to die for….

It’s definitely a top spot to cook something up and have a bite to eat (the BBQ’s are squeaky clean and some even have BBQ scrapers attached).

Things to do in Cairns - Copperlode Dam

The playground is basic BUT fun for the kids (& nice & close to the BBQ area)

And trust me the kids will be happy. I’ve seen children of all ages enjoying this playground and there’s plenty of open area too for them to run around.

Things to do in Cairns - Copperlode Dam

It’s also a few degrees cooler up here during the summer months

The grassy areas, the view, the lush tropical vegetation and the expanse of water will leave you in super chill mode after a visit here. You really can’t beat a visit to Copperlode Dam and it is hard to believe its only a 30-minute drive from a thriving metropolis.

Good Things to Know:

  • Lake Morris was formed in 1979 by damming Freshwater Creek. It supplies fresh drinking water to the people of Cairns. For this reason recreational activities on the Lake are restricted and presently no swimming is allowed.

    Things to do in Cairns - Copperlode Dam

    Plenty of signs with plenty of info on Lake Morris

  • Informative signs are posted around the top of the dam explaining the catchment area and how the reservoir works.

    Things to do in Cairns - Copperlode Dam

    You can kayak on Lake Morris with Copperlode Fish & Kayak

  • You can fish, kayak and SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) on Lake Morris but you must book through Copperlode Dam Fish and Kayak. These vessels are the only ones that are allowed to be used on Lake Morris due to strict water regulations from the Cairns Council.
  • There are some popular walks around the Lake Morris area which includes the walk to Crystal Cascades (for more info click HERE) & the walk from Mt Sheridan to White Rock Peak (you’ll find more info in both walks in this book “Tropical Walking Tracks of North Queensland” by Whytlaw & Dungey).
  • For more info on Lake Morris check out the Cairns Council web page.
Things to do in Cairns - Explore Copperlode Dam via AdventureMumma


Have you visited Copperlode Dam lately? What adventures did you enjoy up this way? Any other FREE things to do in Cairns that your family enjoys?