This is a really popular walk mostly due to the fact that there is a really impressive swimming hole with some epic high places to jump off…if you dare!!
If you choose to go the long way in through the Princess Marina trail you start off on Lawrence Hargreaves Drive. The trail head is really well hidden from the road and I actually headed up the service trail first before realising and turned around, the actual trail is a few metres East from there. You could easily think you are not in the right spot as the trail is thin and very overgrown. It doesn’t get a whole lot better as you continue through the skinny walkway. Long shirts and pants are recommended on the track as the shrubs are quite scratchy.
Along the way, you quickly get the sense of what this trail would have been like in all its glory. I suddenly feel like I’m in a Norman Lindsay flashback with gorgeous stonework chairs, stairs and walls with love-heart motives. The original walk was owned and created by Henry Halloran who intended to develop a hotel and put in an amazing effort creating the stone features on this walk. Halloran gained permission from the Duchess of Kent, Princess Marina to name the walk in her honor in 1937; the walk was part of the ‘Pleasure Walk’ which was very popular with hikers in the 1930-40’s.
Botanically, the trail has a lot to offer including; Gymea Lily’s, Cabbage Tree Palms and some gorgeous flowering shrubs in the Spring. The gums throughout the Otford Valley are equally impressive ensuring grand views from the various stonework lookout points – Halloran was very busy!
Along the trail you then come across a trail to the right that takes you into the valley at the base of the falls. The falls are 48m high so this trail takes you 48m straight down…it’s steep, slippery and involves a little bit of abseiling down a ledge. This is not for the fainthearted…but oh it’s so much fun! The whole way down there are tree obstacles and rough footing… it’s really good! There is always a good crowd that come down for the swim and manage to make it in thongs and beachwear, so anything goes. At the base a group of boys were daring each other to jump off the high ledges so it’s all a bit of fun. The water is generally churned up from all the action, so it’s definitely better to go in the winter if you want photo opportunities.
Once you make it back up the same path, you can join the civilized path around to the top of the falls. It’s at this stage you realise there is a car park here, so you could take the easy way out and park here – but where’s the fun in that? Overall the Princess Marina walk takes about 1.5hrs. On the way back you can take the service trail back to your car for a change of scenary – and an echidna if you are lucky!
For anyone reading this that frequents the area – it was possibly one of the worst walks for litter I’ve been on in the Illawarra area. If you go with mates, please be sensible and take out your own rubbish and some more, it’s such a shame to see such a special walk being spoilt – Do it for Henry Halloran!