The best waterfalls and swimming holes near Brisbane
There’s just something about waterfalls that leave you wanting more. Perhaps it’s how tranquil they are or the sound of flowing water, or maybe it’s just that they’re found in some of the most beautiful locations, making the perfect spot to get away from it all.
Whatever it is, I can’t get enough of them.
Escape the beach this summer and cool off at these gorgeous waterfalls and swimming holes, all within a two-hour drive from Brisbane.
North of Brisbane
Cedar Creek – Samford
Located just outside of Samford, below Mt Glorious, are the serene rock pools of Cedar Creek. It’s a short scenic drive north-west of Brisbane which gives you a taste of the countryside with rolling green hills in every direction.
Drive along Mt Samson Road and turn left into Cedar Creek Road. You can choose to stop at Andy Williams Park for a number of rock pools, or you can follow the creek.
There are private properties in the area though, so please do be mindful and respectful to the homes and people around you and ensure that Cedar Creek stays beautiful.
Gardners Falls – Maleny
Up on the Sunshine Coast, Gardners Falls has to be one of my favourite swimming spots on a hot day. To get here, turn off Landsborough-Maleny Road onto Obi Obi Creek Road, following it till the car park at the end.
It’s a short walk to the falls where you pass plenty of rock pools perfect for splashing around. The path eventually leads to the main waterfall and swimming area where there are two rope swings.
Just watch your feet around the edges of the rock pool by the shade… there are eels who will nibble at your feet!
Kondalilla Falls – Montville
Do wear good shoes though as there are over 100 steps on the Kondalilla Falls circuit! But for those who would rather skip the stairs, there is a gorgeous lookout as well.
Serenity Falls – Buderim Forest Walk
This secluded oasis is a jewel in the subtropical paradise of the Sunshine Coast.
There are two access points to Serenity Falls (aka Burderim Falls); the circuit track from Quorn Close takes about 20 minutes to complete whereas the track from Quorn Close to Harry’s Restaurant on the north side of the park can be completed in about an hour.
Booloumba Falls – Conondale National Park
Accessing Booloumba Falls does require a 4WD as the park roads are all gravel and include are several creek crossings.
The walk to the falls will take you through tall open forests and should take you about two hours in total. It’s a lovely spot for a swim as well as camping.
Wappa Falls – Yandina
Just a short walk from Wappa Dam is Wappa Falls; a place not too many people know about. Similar to Gardners Falls, there are plenty of little swimming holes around the waterfall.
Do exercise caution when entering the waters and avoid entering after heavy rainfall.
PS. For more in-depth info on these top 5 Sunshine Coast waterfalls, click here.
South of Brisbane
Cedar Creek Falls – Tamborine Mountain
A favourite swimming hole in Tamborine Mountain has to be Cedar Creek Falls.
You can admire the cascades and rock pools from the spectacular lookouts or venture down the 86 staircase to reach the swimming hole. Either way, Cedar Creek Falls is a must do.
Being such a popular swimming hole, the car parks at Cedar Creek Falls are very limited and will fill quickly. Please be mindful that this is a National Park and you should only park your car in the designated car parks to avoid any nasty fines.
Curtis Falls – Mt Tamborine
If you find yourself in the area be sure to check out Curtis Falls. It’s a short and easy walk that is well worth a visit, especially after a big rainfall.
You can’t swim here, but spend some time admiring the lush green palm trees hanging out over the falls and practice your photography skills with this handy post.
Lip Falls – Denham Scenic Reserve, Beechmont
Lip Falls is one of the locals’ favourite spots to cool off on a hot summer’s day, and this is just scratching the surface of what Beechmont has to offer.
Starting from Doncaster Road, the Back Creek Gorge Track is a 3km walk through a Council reserve that takes you into the rainforest. Access to the Council reserve is via private property so please be mindful and respectful.
With limited parking, visitors are encouraged to be courteous and respectful of the local residents and their properties. Please do not park in residents’ yards and driveways.
As there are no facilities at Lip Falls, please remember to tidy up and take all rubbish with you.
Killarney Glen – Beechmont
Further downstream from Lip Falls you’ll find Killarney Glen, just off Beechmont Road between Beechmont and Canungra. There is a street sign that marks where the 2.5km walk begins.
The most attractive feature of these falls is the heart-shaped basin.
This hidden gem is tucked away behind military land (Canungra Barracks) and through private property. So please be mindful that access to the waterfall may be limited at times.
Parking is extremely limited and if you are looking for a car park, please be respectful of the local residents and do not block the roadway. Similar to Lip Falls, there are no facilities at Killarney Glen so please take all of your rubbish with you when you leave.
Currumbin Rock Pools & Cougal Cascades – Currumbin
If you’ve spent a few days on the Gold Coast and are looking for a change of scenery, Currumbin Rock Pools is the place to go.
Travel down Currumbin Valley Road and you’ll find a series of rock pools; a peaceful spot for a swim and a picnic.
Sometimes it can get crowded so if you head a bit further down to the very end of the road you’ll find Cougal Cascades.
Natural Bridge – Springbrook National Park
This paved circuit takes you above, below and around the gorgeous falls. And if you stay a little longer until after the sun sets, you’ll see Natural Bridge light up with incredible glow worms.
Do note that swimming is not permitted here in order to protect the natural habitat of these glow worms.
Purling Brook Falls – Springbrook National Park
Start at the Gwongorella picnic area in Springbrook National Park and make your way down to the gorge as you pass an abundance of wildflowers in the open forest. The circuit gives you breathtaking views of Purling Brook Falls from above and below.
Hint: Be sure to walk the circuit in a clockwise direction, otherwise you’re going to be climbing heaps of stairs on the way back!
Twin Falls- Springbrook National Park
To access Twin Falls, you can choose to start the 4km circuit from Tallanbana picnic area or Canyon Lookout in an anticlockwise direction.
As you descend further into the World Heritage-listed rainforest, you will come across rocky caves and outcrops; something that makes the walk so unique.
Eventually, you’ll come face to face with Twin Falls. You can choose to admire it from the front or feel the spray of the water as you walk around the back.
Morans Falls – Lamington National Park
If you’re looking for a place to watch the sunset with an incredible view, this is it.
Coomera and Yarrabilgong Falls – Lamington National Park
The double falls make this 8km return trip well worth it.
Box Forest Circuit – Lamington National Park
The Box Forest Circuit is a 10.9km hike starting from O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat carpark. It is one of the most rewarding walks this area has to offer.
There are plenty of waterfalls to be seen along the way including Box Log, Wajinya and Darragumai Falls.
Elabana Falls – Lamington National Park
One of the most spectacular waterfalls you’ll come across on the Box Forest Circuit(and my personal favourite) is Elabana Falls.
It’s picture perfect and simply cannot be missed. Elabana Falls itself is an 8km round trip.
Mirror Falls – Lamington National Park
Starting at O’Reilly’s, Mirror Falls is one of the longer hikes in the area. The track is 20.6km long and is part of the Albert River Circuit. But with views like this, it is well worth a visit at least once!
The track is 20.6km long and is part of the Albert River Circuit. But with views like this, it is well worth a visit at least once!
Chalahn Falls – Lamington National Park
The deeper you wander into Lamington National Park, the more incredible the waterfalls become. Found along Toolona Creek Circuit is the picturesque Chalahn Falls.
Deep in the rainforest you’ll find it tumbling off the mountain and cascades over mossy rocks past the logs below. A return walk to the falls is about 10.5km from O’Reilly’s.
Queen Mary Falls – Main Range National Park
Soak up the fresh country air as you embark on a road trip to the spectacular Queen Mary Falls. Make your way to Spring Creek Road until you a see sign pointing you towards the falls.
The circuit itself takes 40 minutes to complete and brings you to the creek below from the lookouts 40m above.
Head here for more things to see and do along the way.
Brown Falls – Main Range National Park
After that long drive to see Queen Mary Falls, another gorgeous waterfall worth checking out is Brown Falls.
Just continue on Spring Creek Road until you come across the signs.
Still looking for more? Give these swimming holes a try:
- Coomera River; access via the Gwongoorool Track
- Albert River in Darlington Park
- The Lower Portals & Yellow Pinch swimming holes located at the base of Mt Barney National Park
Nothing beats the heat better than your favourite waterfall or swimming hole, but always remember to be safe and cautious when accessing them.