Waterfalls continue to mesmerise the generations. When you can easily reach them and take in all the glory, sometimes it can be even more special for when you need a quick little ‘waterfall hit’. Take a tiny adventure to waterfalls that pack a big punch, don’t let the distance from the carpark deter you from these beauties. There is plenty more to see around the area, so maybe make it just a little stop along the way!
A small drive from the town of Waterfall, National Falls is the reason Waterfall took its name from these spectacular falls so close to town. The falls cascade into Upper and Lower Falls. The most accessible and available for most people is the Upper National Falls.
Taking the drive down McKell Ave into the Royal National Park, a small carpark is available on the left side when travelling from Waterfall. It’s also possible to take the Coast Road from Stanwell Park around to the location. Once you reach the carpark, it is essentially right there…! You reach a fenced off area with a gate that is open allowing exploration of the top of the upper falls.
Remember you are walking around the top of a waterfall and around them – that means cliffs, slippery rocks and lots of water. Ensure you take extreme caution and watch children diligently to avoid injury or possible death.
From the top of the Upper Falls you can enjoy spectacular valley views and enjoy the peaceful creek running off the falls. Once you are ready to move on, it’s time to take the journey down to the base of the Upper Falls. Simply return to the carpark and follow the pathway on the Eastern side with the very obvious stairs. It is a little way down, but if you are not fit, just take your time. Making sure not to slip on the wooden and stone stairs if it’s a little wet. As you slowly descend you will catch some glimpses of what’s ahead…
As you near the base of the stairs, there is a small diversion on the track to the left, taking you behind the falls. A beautiful water-leached cave under the waterfall presents beautiful vistas back through the waterfall out into the valley. As you’d expect there are some spectacular plants growing in this constant water supply, so be careful not to deviate off the well worn track. It is particulary muddy and slippery too, so take it slow.
You can now head back around either on the trail to the stairs, or simply just make your way down to the base of the falls. It’s not suitable for swimming with no pool, as essentially you are standing on the top of another waterfall. So yes, be extremely careful with a massive cliff downstream from the main waterfall. This however is a lovely spot to enjoy the wonderful views of the waterfall in all its serenity, a favourite for photographers.
Feel like more and are an experienced bushwalker? Continue to walk back up the same stairs you came down until you get back to street level. From here you are going to want to get to the bottom of the Lower Falls, which is on your left, or downstream. You will need to continue down the road as there is no longer a walkable and obvious trail. Walk inside the guard rail as it is a tight road with cars, so it’s safer inside. There is a drop off into the bush, so this is not a suitable trail for young children or beginners. There is no parking further down, so this is the only option. Keep walking until you reach the old stone trail stairs heading down.
This old trail is in a particulary good state as it is probably used often or possibly just wonderful old well made stairs! Continue down the path, paying attention to the lovely rock walls on the way in. You will come to a smaller ‘cave’ overhang and depending on the waterflow will need to pass under some big drips or more like a steady flow of water, so you might get wet! You then make your way under the massive cave under the Lower Falls. The cave itself is very spectacular providing those lovely views upwards towards the waterfall, allowing your eyes to follow each drop down until it crashes on the huge boulders below.
If you are still looking for a bit more adventure, you can continue from here on the other side of the waterfall and can make your way down to the pool below. There is no trail, it’s not particulary easy, very slippery underfoot and not for beginners. This part of the walk requires your respect and sensibility, so use it to avoid injury, degradadion of the area and erosion. Follow the existing ‘path’ that is most worn.
Once you reach the pool you can take your shoes off and have a little explore. The pool is big enough for a decent dip if you don’t mind it a little cooler, you can even get a little waterfall action as the waterfall slides over the last rock into the pool.
To get back out, come back up the same way you came in and return to the car park.
Parking and transport:
Easily accessible from Waterfall or Otford, you will find the carpark on McKell Ave, Waterfall. The National Parks and Wildlife Service website advises you will need a day pass for this area, there is a booth on the road in from Waterfall.
We recommend only visiting the Upper Falls if you are not an experienced bushwalker, the Lower Falls are only for fit and experienced bushwalkers. There is obviously water in the area and cliffs so you need to decide if you can safely look after young children in the area.
There is a high chance of leeches and snakes in the area being a water source, so take precautions.
Signage and Track Condition:
The upper falls is well signposted with stairs, rails and obvious trails. The lower falls has no signage and the trail is difficult to ascertain in places – leave this trail for experienced walkers if you are a beginner.
Data & Cellular Coverage:
Due to the large rock formations and being out of town, coverage is very poor.
The Upper Falls are suitable for everyone. If you have knee or hip problems, you may not be able to get down the stairs to under the waterfall.
No fitness required for the Upper Falls, less than 100m to the falls. The stairs may test your stamina on the way up, but just take your time.
Hiking Grade: Grade 1
Generally a scenic spot at the Upper Falls, rather than a bushwalk.
Distance and Time:
The Upper Falls are basically roadside, so take as long as you want!
Pollution/Rubbish Status: Grade 3
The usual morons like to throw rubbish off cliffs, so there can be a little bit around.
All dogs (except for assistance dogs), bikes, fires, camping, smoking and alcohol.