There’s something hypnotic about watching water cascade over rock formations. Its sheer power and the freshness created by the spray is enchanting. From the mighty Victoria Falls in Africa, to New Zealand’s Sutherland Falls, some of these stunning water attractions have become modern day wonders of the world.
But you don’t have to travel thousands of miles to enjoy a waterfall. There are some great sites within driving distance of Brisbane – you can even walk to one from the centre of the city. So why not pack a picnic, your swimmers, and head off to chase a rainbow?
Head north out of Brisbane on the Bruce Highway and, after about 90 minutes driving, you’ll find yourself at the beautiful Conondale National Park. Remember to take hiking boots, as to reach the Booloumba Falls you’ll have to undertake a 1.5 kilometre trek.
It will be worth the effort though. Not only will you be rewarded by the beautiful falls themselves, but you’ll also get the opportunity to take in the area’s fabulous flora and fauna as you walk. Expect to see fast-flowing streams, tall eucalypt forests, and boulder-strewn creeks.
A mere one-hour drive from Brisbane along the Pacific Motorway and State Route 95, this beautiful park makes an easy half- day outing.
Mount Tamborine has a number of natural falls, so you might choose to view more than one if you have more time. Cedar Creek is the only one with natural swimming pools though, so it’s an ideal spot for cooling off, either during the heat of the day or at the end of your adventure. If the water table is high, it will be so fast flowing that you will feel like you’re in a whirlpool.
The Falls’ viewing platform is easily accessible, even for those with pushchairs or wheelchair users. There are also picnic tables nearby.
JC Slaughter Falls and Simpsons Falls are located a mere 10 km from Brisbane’s central business district, making them a favourite for weekend hikes. Best viewed after heavy rains, both falls have picturesque barbecue and picnic areas, and plenty of shade for leisurely lunches.
If you fancy the easy walk to Mount Coot-tha lookout, it will take about an hour and affords great views of the city and Moreton Bay.
Heading north from the city on the Bruce Highway, you’ll come to Kondalilla National Park on the Blackall Range. The journey takes just over an hour and a half. The Park is home to more than a hundred species of birds as well as some endangered reptile species, including the rare pouched frog.
The Kondalilla Falls themselves plunge 90 metres down to the rainforest valley floor. There’s also the opportunity to take a steep 45-minute hike from to a rock pool with its own mini-waterfall, as well as a nice picnic area nearby.
Springbrook National Park is located about an hour’s drive south of Brisbane. It has a lovely 1.5 km walking trail that will take you through ancient rainforests and over dramatic ravines with fast-flowing rivers, ending at the breathtaking Natural Bridge rock arch.
During the day you’ll see colourful birds like rosella and bowerbirds, or join a guided nocturnal tour to spot protected glow-worms and, in summer, fireflies.
You might want to combine the hike above with a visit to the Twin Falls, also in the Park. This will involve a 4 km walk, and take approximately two hours.
Queen Mary Falls is about a 2.5 hour drive south from Brisbane through beautiful countryside, with winding roads and mountain views.
When you reach the entrance of the Main National Park, take a short walk to the viewing platform and watch Queen Mary’s dramatic 40 m descent into the gorge below. Afterwards, make the 30 minute trek to the bottom of the Falls to hear the exhilarating sound of water cascading around you.