With summer in full swing in Queensland’s sultry south east corner, there’s never been a better time to hit the waterfalls and fresh rock pools of the region. From rainforest fringed falls that you can dive right into, to scenic but remote cascades that require a little hoof to bush track first, these falls give you a fantastic taste of the wonders of the south east. Take the plunge this summer and explore.
Wappa falls, Yandina
Wappa falls are located about 10km from Yandina, just off the Bruce Highway, the main arterial road heading north out of Brisbane and along the Sunshine Coast. While the falls are not always pumping out volume, the setting is spectacular with a tiny rock pool to swim in above the falls, and a wonderful open area below them that you can jump into. The water is clear and cool on a hot summers day and it’s fun to scamper about the rocks and explore. Wappa dam is within walking distance of the falls where you can have a picnic or barbecue, and there’s also the Wappa Falls Observatory, a private observatory with 16 telescopes to take in the night sky.
Kondalila Falls, Mapleton-Montville
The spectacular Kondalila Falls are located on a turnoff between Mapleton and Montville in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. They plummet some 90 metres into a gorge below and indeed the Aboriginal word Kondalila means “rushing waters”. There’s an excellent walking circular track that gives you a view of the falls from a number of angles which takes about 90 minutes to complete. The track traipses through a combination of tall eucalypt forest and rainforest species so be prepared for leeches, birds, frogs, ferns and moss. It’s very atmospheric. The path also passes above the falls where there is a wonderful rock pool to swim in. It’s a little cool but a good respite from the heat, particularly after the walk. If you walk direct to the rock pools it’s only about 20 minutes from the car park.
Queen Mary Falls, Killarney
These falls are located 64km south-west of Booah or 11km east of Killarney, in a superb part of the Darling Downs. The surrounding area in this part of Queensland is all farm country with numerous national parks and scenic areas. It’s well worth a wander. The falls themselves are spectacular all year but particularly after rain, which can be so plentiful at times the track is closed due to dangerous conditions. The road in and out from Boonah can also be hairy after rain. The falls are a 40 minute walk and include vantage points from above and from creek level. There’s nowhere to swim near the falls but the spray alone will cool you down if it’s a hot day. There’s a spectacular circuit crossing the Condamine River in this region as well if you have a bit more time – suitable only by mountainbike, 4WD or strong legs.
Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park
This national park is located in the Gold Coast hinterland, 96km south of Brisbane. It’s a World Heritage site with Aboriginal significance and is always cool even in summer. Natural Bridge is a rather unique formation created by water tumbling through the roof of a cave. It’s also home to glow worms that are fun to view after dark. Sadly swimming in the Natural Bridge section is now prohibited, but it’s still a wonderful place to visit, and those that remember swimming here before 2008 will no doubt regale you about how wonderful it was.
Moran’s Falls, Lamington National Park
These falls are some of the most scenic in the wilds of Lamington National Park, a dense tropical rainforest area on the border between Queensland and National Park with ancient trees, spongy moss, extensive walking tracks and plenty of scenic wonders. The track to Moran’s Falls takes just an hour from the main road and the picnic area above the falls is where a bark hut once housed the O’Reilly brothers when they first arrived in the area. If you spend any time in this area you’ll read all about the O’Reillys who still live up here and run the Rainforest Retreat offering superb accommodation. You first get a glimpse of the falls from about 500m away but it’s well worth heading to the falls themselves for further views.