Chase this: Top 5 waterfalls on the Sunshine Coast
Most people head to the Sunshine Coast for beach action. But 40km inland, you’ll find a different reason to pack togs and a towel – the Sunshine Coast’s waterfalls are waiting.
To find them, hang a U-turn when you arrive at the beach and hit the hinterland for a day trip, where shaded rainforests play home to hidden waterfalls and freshwater swimming holes.
Swap salt water for the fresh kind with this guide to the Sunshine Coast’s best waterfalls.
1. Gardners Falls
Who needs to go to the expense of installing a swimming pool when Mother Mature has taken care of the landscaping at Gardners Falls?
It’s accessible, easy and has both a small and large pool for the young and young at heart.
To find it, point your bonnet a short 30-minute drive from the coast to the hinterland town of Maleny.
Park on the banks of Obi Obi Creek and follow the smaller rapids and rock pools on a flat (pram friendly) 300m path, leading to the large swimming hole.
If you’re travelling with little swimmers, you’ll find shallow rock pools closer to the car, perfect for young’uns to splash about.
Make a day out of this waterfall, tossing down a rug on the surrounding grassy banks or secure a picnic table to share snacks, best picked up fresh from one of these local favourites.
How to get there: Driving on Landsborough-Maleny Road, turn off at Obi Lane South and follow the road (past Spicers Tamarind Retreat) to the car park.
2. Kondalilla Falls
It’s apt how Kondalilla Falls got its moniker. The name Kondalilla derives from the Aboriginal word meaning “rushing waters” and when you’re floating at the bottom of this 90m high waterfall, you’ll see they were quite literal in their naming.
To work up a sweat and make your dip in this Sunshine Coast waterfall all the more rewarding, we’d recommend tackling the Kondalilla Falls Circuit before dipping your toes into its ice-cold waters.
This walk is a bit like a natural Stairmaster with over 100 stairs on the 4.7km round-trip, so sturdy shoes and a reasonable fitness level is required.
The views will take your breath away, long before the exercise does from the Kondalilla Falls lookout, where Skene Creek drops 90-metres below.
Even if you don’t take the full circuit, it’s well worth making it to this waterfall’s rockpool base, winding through tall open eucalypt forest that merges with dense rainforest.
3. Buderim ‘Serenity’ Falls
Hiding amongst the strangler figs and native vines of Buderim Forest Park, Buderim Falls (also known as Serenity Falls) proves good things come in small waterfall packages.
You’ll find this 45 hectare oasis, five minutes from the main strip of Buderim Village – close to coffee shops if you’re not one to pack and lug a picnic basket around for a day out.
If you’re short on time but still long for Sunshine Coast waterfall action, aim for the high entry point from Quorn Close, which follows an easy 300m dirt track down to the falls.
If you’d like to explore at a more leisurely pace, opt for the lower entry point off Lindsay Road via Harry’s Lane.
No matter which way you journey, you’ll be greeted to the park by a gorgeous elevated wooden arch bridge, which was built off-site then lowered into the park by helicopter.
Crossing the bridge (over to the Quorn Close side) you can access the base and lower creeks via the steps which will test your rock hopping skills.
*Note: The creek is spring-fed at the source but passes through many urban developments and stormwater drains, so swimming is not recommended.
How to get there: Set your GPS for either Quorn Close or Harry’s Lane.
4. Booloumba Falls
Nestled deep in the Sunshine Coast hinterland within Conondale National Park, expect a waterfall served with a side of spectacular scenery – lush rainforests, eucalyptus forest and boulder-scattered creeks.
The journey of finding it is all part of the adventure of this waterfall, and you’ll need a high-clearance 4WD vehicle to access the park and Booloumba Creek day-use area.
The drive takes you through unspoilt mountain landscapes, multiple creek crossings, and promises panorama views out to the mountain range along the way.
Once you’ve found it, you’ll want walking shoes to take the Booloumba Falls Walk, which is an easy 2km forest track past cascades and rock pools until you reach your waterfall-nirvana.
Did we mention you can camp here? Turn your day out into a two-day adventure with this guide.
How to get there: Coming south from Kenilworth or north-west from Maleny, turn off at Booloumba Creek Rd. Follow the narrow bitumen road, past farm properties, ‘til it turns to gravel and you’ve reached the national park entrance. Note, Google Maps does not behave well in these parts, so we’d recommend following signs, not Siri.
5. Wappa Falls
If you’re the kind of traveller who prefers discovering natural encounters plenty of locals don’t even know about, head to Wappa Falls, five minutes from Yandina.
These falls are fed by the South Maroochy River and are made up of rock formations and small rock pools which lead to a mini-gorge below.
Exploring here is a bit of a scramble, so take care as the rocks can get slippery.
Make a day out of it, visiting the Yandina Markets first (check out why it’s a local’s happy-place, here) and pick up supplies to enjoy at either the falls or under the shaded trees at Wappa Dam park.
How to get there: Take the Nambour Connection Road exit off the Bruce Highway, turning off at Wappa Falls Rd. Follow until you turn right at Pump Station Rd, where Wappa Falls is located. Alternatively, you could also park at Wappa Dam and walk the short 10 mins to the falls.
A few words of caution before visiting these Sunshine Coast waterfalls:
- Obey all safety and warning signs
- Take great care if there’s been recent rainfall
- Bring insect repellent, sunscreen, lots of water, and sturdy shoes
- If there are no bins on site, make sure you take all rubbish with you
- Never jump or dive as you don’t know what’s submerged underneath
Looking for more waterfall chasing action across the Sunshine State?
- Check out these waterfalls near Brisbane
- Go waterfall chasing across Queensland
- Discover Southern Queensland Country’s waterfall-scene
- Learn the art of long exposure to photograph waterfalls