Teen latest victim of ‘Devil’s Pool’

CAIRNS teen Madison Tam is the latest victim of the notorious Devil's Pool - a deadly swimming hole cursed in Aboriginal myth - that has claimed at least 17 lives in far north Queensland. 

The 18-year-old, of White Rock, was sucked under and disappeared in the raging torrent and tunnel of rocks at the off-limits swim spot at Babinda Boulders, 60km south of Cairns, about 2.30pm on Monday. 

Police divers and swiftwater recovery crews are scouring the crystal-clear waters of the stunning rainforest creek, but are yet to find any trace of the missing teen.

Acting Detective Inspector Jason Smith told how the churning highly oxygenated white water of Devil's Pool - all bubbles and no buoyancy - had a deadly reputation. 

"The Boulders has been the site of many tragic deaths over the years,'' the lead police investigator said.

"The reality is it is a very dangerous site.

"The water is much deeper than it appears, it travels at a much faster rate, it has much more energy, than it appears on the surface.

"People have to heed the warnings, read the signs they are there for a reason." 

Ms Tam, a popular former St Mary's College student and avid Scouts Rover, had been swimming with three friends in a natural spa bath, known as the "washing machine", on a bright sunlit day.

Up to six others were also swimming in the area, also known as the Chutes, when Ms Tam was pulled by the invisible force into the downstream Devil's Pool. 


Madison Tam, 18, is presumed drowned at the Babinda Boulders.
Madison Tam, 18, is presumed drowned at the Babinda Boulders.


"She disappeared under the water and has not resurfaced,'' Insp Smith said. 

"It is a distressing event for everybody involved.

"Her family are devastated." 

Official signs warn that section of Babinda Creek, which is at the base of Mt Bartle Frere, is restricted to swimming due to the danger that has claimed at least 17 lives, most young men, since the 1950s.

Another sign tells a Dreamtime story of how an Aboriginal woman who drowned at the site lured young men to their deaths, according to the mythical "Curse of the Devil's Pool". 

Asked why the young group of friends were at the popular swimming hole despite the COVID-19 lockdown, Insp Smith said police continued to urge people to remain in their local areas.

"It's concerning to us that she was in that space and concerning to us that there were so many people swimming in that space,'' he said.

"We'll remain on-site and continue the search until we can retrieve this girl and establish how she died and if there were any extenuating circumstances."

A report will be prepared for the coroner.