The best waterfalls and swimming holes near Brisbane
There’s just something about waterfalls that leave you wanting more.
Perhaps it’s the tranquillity, the sound of flowing water or Mother Nature in all her glory that makes them the perfect place to get away from it all.
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 onto 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 be mindful and respectful of the homes around you and ensure that Cedar Creek stays untouched and undistributed (just the way nature intended it).
Gardners Falls – Maleny
To get here, turn off Landsborough-Maleny Road onto Obi Obi Creek Road and drive until you reach the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Follow the path from the carpark to the main waterfall and swimming area where there are two rope swings for Tarzan wannabes.
Make sure to watch your feet around the edges of the rock pool by the shade… there are friendly eels who will nibble at your feet!
Kondalilla Falls – Montville
Be sure to wear good walking shoes as there are over 100 steps on the Kondalilla Falls Circuit! For those who aren’t too keen to take off their flip-flops, don’t fret. You can nab an absolutely gorgeous view of this beauty from the lookout above (or upside down!).
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 Buderim Falls). The circuit track from Quorn Close takes about 20 minutes to complete whereas the track to Harry’s Restaurant on the north side of the park can be completed in about an hour.
Booloumba Falls – Conondale National Park
To access the beautiful Booloumba Falls you will need a 4WD to navigate the gravel roads and several creek crossings but, boy is it worth it.
When you arrive, venture through tall open forests on the scenic walk to the falls and take a dip in the cool waters. Want to extend your stay? Conondale National Park has camping grounds available but make sure you organise a permit beforehand.
Wappa Falls – Yandina
Just a short walk from Wappa Dam is a local secret not too many know about. Similar to Gardners Falls, Wappa Falls offers plenty of little swimming holes around the main fall (score!).
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
Admire the cascades and rock pools from the spectacular lookouts or venture down the 86 staircase to reach the swimming hole.
Being such a popular swimming hole, the car parks are limited and fill up quickly. 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.
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.
Swimming is not permitted here in order to protect the natural habitat of these gorgeous 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. When you come face to face with Twin, you can choose to admire it from the front or feel the spray of the water as you walk around the back (paradise!).
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
Hidden in the Binna Burra section of Lamington National Park is a breathtaking lookout over the Coomera Gorge.
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.
As a reward for your efforts, you will spot the trifecta of falls along the way: Box Log, Wajinya and Darragumai.
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!
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.
When you arrive, you will spot water tumbling off the mountain and cascading over mossy rocks below. A return walk from 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 a 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.
Happy waterfall chasing! Which ones have you been to? Share with us in the comments below.
This post was originally published in January 2017 and updated November 2018.