Waterfalls Near Brisbane
(The feature photo is of Purling Brook Falls, a waterfall in Springbrook National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland)
There’s something magical about waterfalls, the sound of running water that soothes, the feeling of cool, fresh mountain water on your feet or the spectacle of shimmering water plummeting into valleys below. The feeling of adventure as you set off to explore somewhere new, or simply being in some green space away from the noise of the city. We’ve compiled a list of some of South East Queensland’s best waterfalls for your family to go and experience.
Before heading off on your grand adventure, please keep a few things in mind. Waterfalls are obviously more spectacular after a reasonable rain event, some of the falls listed will be dry without heavy rainfall. We’ve noted this where possible. If you plan to swim on your visit, keep in mind water quality in swimming holes diminishes if there is limited water flow during dry periods. Use your better judgement. Obviously if walking some of the tracks listed, there may be steep gradients, and the tracks may have the odd steep drop off to the side. Please adhere to all safety and warning signs. These tracks will be slippery after rain, wear sturdy footwear. Also ensure you pack insect repellent, and don’t forget the camera. Before heading off tell someone where you are going and when you intend to be back. Never jump into watercourses as there may be submerged dangers, water depths do vary and there may be strong currents. And a final note, have fun!
Gardner’s Falls, Maleny
This is probably the most family-friendly waterfall in South East Queensland. A bitumen path follows Obi Obi Creek, with small waterfalls and swimming holes along the way. At the end of the track is a large waterfall which you can wade through the ankle-deep water to view from above, or follow a dirt track for 30 metres to see it from below. The refreshing mountain water makes Gardner’s a beautiful swimming spot and the water levels make it suitable for the whole family. Pack a picnic and make a day of it.
You’ll find the carpark at the end of Obi Lane, Maleny.
Kondalilla Falls, Montville
It’s easy to see why Kondalilla Falls gets its name from the Aboriginal phrase meaning ‘rushing waters’. During the wet season, the water from Skene Creek drops 90 metres to the gully below. The walk to the falls is a 4.7km round trip down the mountainside, with numerous stairs. Best save this walk for older Brisbane Kids. Probably the best part of this adventure is the rock pool above the waterfall. With a smaller waterfall, it is a fantastic place to cool down on a hot day.
The Kondalilla Falls carpark is located on Kondalilla Falls Road, Montville.
For more information visit Queensland Parks.
Buderim ‘Serenity’ Falls, Buderim
Another gem of the Sunshine Coast hinterland is the Buderim ‘Serenity’ Falls. The 45-hectare parcel of land was originally privately owned until council purchased it as a reserve for the public. Located in the Buderim Forest Park, the falls are spectacular. Visitors can access the waterfall and the cave behind it which makes for a great photo opportunity. Swimming is not recommended due to water quality. There are two access points, one from above, and one from below.
For more information about the tracks, parking and the falls visit www.brisbanekids.com.au/buderim-forest-walk-falls.
Wappa Falls, Yandina
Although not huge, the Wappa Falls cascades are beautiful. The water is refreshing and the best bit, it’s relatively unknown. Fed by the South Maroochy River via Wappa Dam, the falls lead to rocky pools for a refreshing dip. There’s no walking required, the carpark is roughly 30 metres away from the falls. Some rock hopping is required as you explore the area, the rocks may be slippery. Best head to Wappa Falls after significant rainfall, it has been known to be rather dry otherwise. Checking the SEQWater website is best, if the dam is spilling, the falls will be flowing.
One downside to visiting Wappa Falls is the lack of facilities, however, just a few minutes up the road is the Wappa Dam recreation area with plenty of tables and chairs, BBQs, toilets and a small playground. During a decent rain event the dam wall becomes a waterfall in itself as it’s not gated.
The carpark for the Wappa Falls is located on Pump Station Road which is off Wappa Falls Road. It is clearly signposted.
Mapleton Falls, Mapleton
Although not as well known as some of the other falls on the Sunshine Coast, Mapleton Falls still packs a punch. A stunning drop, Pencil Creek plunges 120 metres to the rainforest below. If a quick visit is what you’re after, the lookout is just 50 metres from the carpark and gives a bird’s eye view of the falls below. It’s easily accessible being both wheelchair and stroller friendly. To see the falls from another perspective, check out the Wompoo Circuit which is a gentle 1.3km circuit that winds through the surrounding rainforest. At the Peregrine lookout, you’ll get fantastic views of the Mapleton Falls. Owing to the volcanic activity many years ago the rocks at the base of the falls have a hexagonal shape.
The carpark is located at the end of Mapleton Falls Road, Mapleton.
For more information visit the Queensland Parks and Forests website
JC Slaughter Falls and Simpson Falls, Mt Coot-tha
The closest waterfalls to Brisbane are the JC Slaughter Falls and Simpsons Falls. A 15-minute drive from the CBD, these falls are a popular picnic spot amongst the locals. For a fair portion of the year the falls are dry, however after a heavy downpour they are quite beautiful. To view JC Slaughter Falls, simply follow the Aboriginal Art Trail to an overhanging wooden platform. Along the way, you’ll see several Aboriginal artwork displays. An easy walk for kids, it’s 1km of moderate terrain. Simpsons Falls is also a moderate 650-metre walk along the Simpsons Falls Track, with a few obstacles.
Parking for JC Slaughter Falls is at the JC Slaughter Falls carpark located at 38 Sir Samuel Griffith Drive, Mt Coot-tha, while parking for Simpsons Falls is at the Simpsons Falls Carpark located at 310 Sir Samuel Griffith Drive, Mt Coot-tha.
Check out our review of the JC Slaughter Falls.
Cougal Cascades, Currumbin Valley
Just down the road from the popular Currumbin Rock Pools is a fantastic set of waterfalls and rock pools to explore. The lesser-known Cougal Cascades is a haven on a hot day, with the cool mountain water gushing over the rock face into swimming holes. It’s a short walk from the carpark, approximately 1.5 kilometres return along a sealed pathway which is suitable for strollers, but might be a struggle for wheelchairs as it is up a slight incline.
At the end of the path, there’s a bit of rock hopping and a scramble to access the water, it’s not an easy task. While you’re there, check out the old timber mill from the 1940s, it’s 400 metres further up the track.
The carpark is located at 1815 Currumbin Creek Rd, Currumbin Valley.
Read our Currumbin Rock Pools review here.
Curtis Falls, Mt Tamborine
Not exactly what you’d expect in the middle of a bustling hinterland tourist town, Curtis Falls is a world away. Head down the rainforest track which is 1.5 kilometres return and has numerous stairs, which is probably not for smaller Brisbane Kids. Once at the bottom of the falls lookup for a spectacular view of the water cascading over the edge.
In order to protect the rather sensitive ecosystem, swimming is not permitted.
Parking is available on Dapsang Drive, Mt Tamborine.
Twin Falls, Springbrook National Park
Best viewed from below, the identical Twin Falls waterfalls cascade into the rock pool below. It’s simply stunning, so pick a boulder to sit and watch the spectacle. If you’re feeling brave, take a dip in the refreshing waters of the rock pool or perhaps just dip your toes in. The Twin Falls Circuit is 4km, which winds downhill through lush rainforest and takes you through rock formations and behind the falls themselves. It’s a great family adventure.
Parking for the walking track is at Tallanbana Picnic Area on Springbrook Road at Springbrook.
Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park
One of the most unique waterfalls in South East Queensland, Natural Bridge (also known as Natural Arch) is a must-see. The easy circuit winds through lush rainforest to a cave where the water has carved a hole in the ceiling. If you make the journey in the late afternoon, stick around and wait for the sun to set. Inside the cave, the glow worms light up and it’s a truly magical experience.
For the quickest way to the cave, turn left at the beginning of the track for a one-kilometre walk. The track does have numerous stairs, however it is an easy walk for families. Swimming is not permitted at Natural Bridge to ensure the fragile ecosystem is protected.
There is a generous carpark on the Nerang-Murwillumbah Road, which is well signposted.
For more information check out our Natural Bridge Review.
Purling Brook Falls, Springbrook
Another of Springbrook National Park’s truly impressive waterfalls, Purling Brook Falls tumbles 109 meters to the valley below. For the easy option, approximately 100 metres from the carpark there is a lookout where you can catch the above birds-eye view of the falls.
At the top of Purling Brook Falls, close to the beginning of the circuit (or end, depending on the direction you take), there is a causeway where you can get a great look at the rock pools that feed into the falls (note, this area is fenced off and access is prohibited). If you’re feeling a little more daring, pull on the hiking boots and head down the mountainside to see the full spectacle that is Purling Brook Falls. The trek is a 4-kilometre circuit which is quite steep. It’s considered easier to complete the circuit in a clockwise direction, as this will minimise the number of stairs you will need to climb. The walk takes around 2 hours, allowing time to stop and admire the vistas along the way.
Swimming is not permitted at the base of the falls, however, a further two kilometres (return) down the track is Warringa Pool which is suitable for swimming.
The carpark for Purling Brook Falls is located at the end of Forestry Road, Springbrook.
You might be interested to read our resource on what to do with kids in Springbrook National Park.
The Falls Scenic Drive, Main Range National Park – Rathdowney to Killarney
South East Queensland’s version of the Waterfall Way, The Falls Scenic Drive has three falls to admire. Officially known as Spring Creek Road, it starts outside Rathdowney township and winding along the Queensland New South Wales border above the Condamine River towards Killarney. Each of the falls is well signposted with brown tourist signs, the most notable along the way is Queen Mary Falls.
An impressive drop, Queen Mary Falls is where Spring Creek falls 40 metres into the Condamine River catchment below. There is an observation point 100 meters from the carpark above, otherwise, make the 2-kilometre trek down to the base of the falls. It is an impressive site, don’t forget the camera.
Brown’s Falls is a 600-metre walk along the creek to a gorgeous 15-metre high waterfall. The rock formations make it a truly unique and picturesque site. Walking it is a bit interesting. The track starts off well defined, then becomes a little more overgrown and is marked by reflective markers attached to trees. It crisscrosses the creek and requires some rock hopping and ducking and weaving around and under trees.
Dagg’s Falls is beautiful and simple. Unfortunately, visitors can’t access the waterfall, however, the view from above is worth stopping for. Similar to Queen Mary, it’s a 38-metre plunge to the forest floor below.
Minimal walking is required, as the lookout is in the carpark.
We’ve also included some more detailed reviews of Gold Coast waterfalls in our article Chasing Waterfalls in the Gold Coast Hinterland.