Queensland’s 10 best waterfalls
Mother Nature knows waterfalls and swimming holes are the antidote to a sultry Queensland summer. After a hot and steamy trek through a National Park, they’re like finding gold at the end of the rainbow.
No matter the vantage point, watching water cascade over a waterfall is exhilarating. From below, a raging torrent plummets before feathering into a cloud of mist soaking everything around it. At the top, it’s a different scene entirely: lean out over the edge to watch the thunderous turmoil before vertigo kicks in and you cower back to safety.
But while just the sight of one is a rush that’s like a cold shower for the soul, stripping down and diving in is as close to pure invigoration as it gets.
Wallaman Falls – Girringun National Park
Staring down from a dramatic precipice, you can see why Stony Creek’s 268m descent gives Wallaman Falls the title of Australia’s tallest permanent waterfall.
It flows all year round (although it’s fullest from November to April) and the 4 km track from the road at the top winding through the steamy rainforest to the 20 metre deep pool below is worth the trek.
Natural Bridge – Springbrook National Park
Tucked away in the Gold Coast Hinterland lies the dramatically beautiful Springbrook National Park. Here, cliffs induce giddiness, ravines plunge deep, and tiny bubbling streams make your email inbox seem like a faraway dream.
Natural Bridge alone is worth the walk. Add Cave Creek spilling through the roof of the cave and glow-worms pulsing overhead, and this pristine environment is nothing short of ethereal.
Zoe Falls – Hinchinbrook Island
Think Lord of the Rings scenery with towering mountain peaks, add long sandy beaches and throw in some crocodile action for good measure. The result? One of the most visually dramatic islands on the east coast of Australia – Hinchinbrook.
Towering above Zoe Bay are the multi-drop Zoe Falls. Access is via a fairly steep climb from the beach past a handful of swimming holes. But it’s absolutely worth the effort: once you get to the rock pools there’s a stunning panoramic reward.
Go there by foot via the Thorsborne Trail or by kayak along the coast.
Josephine Falls – Bartle Frere
Nestled in the hulking shadow of Queensland’s highest mountain, Bartle Frere, Josephine Falls plummets down before cascading over huge rounded granite boulders.
The 700-metre walk from the car park isn’t enough time to build up a sweat, but a climb to the top of the mountain takes 8-10 hours. As a result, you’ll be rewarded by the unending view of luscious green landscape. Followed, of course, by a rapturous soak after you return to the rock pools at the base. The best bit? The natural waterslide, made all the better by the aftermath of tropical storms.
Barron Falls – Cairns
Raging yet beautiful, the Barron Falls is captivating at any angle. During wet season especially, the water roars off the side of the cliff, showering the valley below in mist and rainbows.
Mena Creek Falls – Innisfail
All Queensland waterfalls are quite something, but Mena Creek Falls are truly unique. Tucked into the gardens of Paronella Park, a decrepit yet gracious castle oozing tales of Tropical North Queensland’s own flapper style parties, this man-made waterfall is beautiful in its own right. However, it’s even more compelling for the Spanish love story behind it, which saw Jose Paronella build Australia’s first hydro-electric power source.
The thousands of stunning tropical plants surrounding the falls create the perfect Eden, consequently seeing Paronella Park voted RACQ’s Number 1 Must-Do Attraction in Queensland in 2009.
Millaa Millaa – Atherton Tablelands
It’s not called The Wet Tropics for nothing. A leisurely drive inland from Cairns takes you from dry coastal fringe to the juicy green Atherton Tablelands, home to a handful of some of the most picturesque waterfalls in Queensland. Top pick Millaa Millaa, surrounded by lush vegetation, electric-blue Ulysses butterflies, and often a bus load of tourists, provides the perfect Kodak moment.
If one fall isn’t enough to wet – sorry, whet – your appetite, continue through the region’s famed Waterfall Circuit to tick off Zillie, Ellinjaa, Pepina and Mungalli Falls.
Serenity Falls – Buderim
Need a soul cleanse, stat? Buderim Forest Park is just a short drive from the centre of the Buderim Village. However, you’d swear this secluded oasis was far from anywhere. The jewel of this subtropical paradise is the aptly named Serenity Falls. Plunging into a gorgeous rock pool, Serenity Falls is one of the prettiest and most accessible waterfalls in Queensland. As a result, Serenity Bridge, which spans the lower part of the pool, allows gorgeous views of the falls and the cave behind. And… exhale.
Queen Mary Falls – Granite Belt
Think a big drop is what makes a waterfall? Then Queen Mary Falls will really blow your hair back, due to its 40-metre descent into the basalt gorge below. Surrounded by tangled rainforest, the valley is located in the Main Range National Park, around two hours drive south-west of Brisbane.
JC Slaughter Falls – Mt Coot-tha
Rising above the hustle of Brisbane, the mighty Mt Coot-tha climbs to 287 metres above sea level. That’s tall enough to squeeze rain from the belly of passing storms during the summer months and turn quiet streams into gushing creeks.
Easy to get to, and the perfect breather from the city, JC Slaughter Falls has great picnic spots. Get there soon after the rain when the falls are at their best.