The Ultimate Australian Waterfall Bucket List
Chasing waterfalls should be our national sport.
In 1994’s ‘Waterfalls’, TLC implore that we “don’t go chasin’ waterfalls”, and instead “stick to the rivers and the lakes” that we’re used to. I’m sorry, TLC, but that ain’t right.
Chasing waterfalls should be our national sport. Cascading rivers are dotted all over Australia, and the only way to really, truly, call yourself Australian is to hop on your bike and see them all.
#1 Wallaman Falls, Qld
The incredible Wallaman Falls are located in Queensland’s Girringun National Park, just 50km past Ingham or a four-hour drive from Cairns, and have the distinct honour of being Australia’s tallest single-drop waterfall. Water runs off Stony Creek in one long, dramatic and thunderous descent, falling 268m into a pool more than 20m deep. This thing is insane.
You’ll want to take a flight to Cairns for this one – while you can drive from Brisbane to see these waterfalls, it will take around 17 hours.
#2 Southern Rockhole, NT
The Southern Rockhole might be the Northern Territory’s best-kept secret. Found near Katherine in Nitmiluk National Park, the Southern Rockhole is well worth the bush-bashing you’ll go through to find it. It’s a two-for-one deal – you get a picturesque waterfall to look at and a totally wild natural swimming hole to cool off in.
#3 Fitzroy Falls, NSW
There are three reasons you should visit Fitzroy Falls. One: The waterfalls themselves, which cascade 82m into the verdant Kangaroo Valley. Two: There are some killer walking tracks to take across the ravine and along the rim of the cliff-face, leading to impressive vantage points over the valley. Three: It’s a perennial breeding ground for exotic flora and fauna, including lorikeets, cuckoos, lyrebirds, wedge-tailed eagles, parrots, wallabies, bandicoots, echidnas and kangaroos.
Oh, and there’s a fourth reason – these waterfalls are just a two-hour drive from Sydney. Score.
#4 Mackenzie Falls, Vic
The waterfalls at Lorne are beautiful, but if you’re willing to drive an extra hour and a half from Melbourne you’ll be treated to the sight of the Mackenzie Falls. There’s nothing quite like the descent towards these waterfalls found in the heart of Victoria’s Grampians National Park. You’ll hear the Grampians waterfalls from far away, thundering through the ample surrounding bush. As you make your way down the steep steps, bending around corners (and cursing the fact that you’ll have to walk back up this annoyingly vertical path at some point), you’ll eventually lay eyes on the cascade. Mackenzie Falls, in all its beauty, is a sure sight for sore eyes – and sore legs.
Dip your toes in the fresh water or throw your whole head under when Victoria’s weather is a little warm – it’ll be worth it.
#5 Mitchell Falls, WA
Mitchell Falls is the outback’s oasis. Found in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, the four-tiered waterfall is epic. It’s breathtakingly huge and difficult to capture on camera, unless you do a scenic flight. At the risk of sounding cliché, it really must be seen to be believed.
#6 Ellenborough Falls, NSW
At 200m, Ellenborough Falls is one of the longest single-drop waterfalls in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the Manning Valley’s hidden gems. You can admire the falls from a viewing platform up top, but our pick would be to follow the 641 steps to the bottom of the valley to really feel the rush of it. Just don’t forget your poncho.
#7 Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu, NT
Jim Jim Falls is probably one of the better known places to swim in the World Heritage–listed Kakadu National Park, and for good reason. Nestled inside a deep gorge, this Instagram-friendly plunge pool is filled by 200m vertical drop falls that’ll leave you gobsmacked. The only way to reach the falls is via a rugged 4WD track, but keep in mind during the wet season it’s often inaccessible. Plan ahead and do your homework, because it’s definitely worth it.
#8 Barron Falls, QLD
Ooft, what a sight! Barron Falls is located northwest of Cairns, and a few kilometres south of Kuranda, with a steep cascading waterfall bouncing off the rocks in the wet season and trickling down ribbons when it’s dry. If you’re there during the rainy season, keep a look out for the huge clouds of mist that grow over the pouring avalanche of water, and the shimmering rainbows that appear throughout the day.
#9 Russell Falls, Tas
Sitting pretty in the Central Highlands region of Tasmania is a tiered cascade waterfall called Russell. Russell’s a mighty beast and is the star attraction of Tasmania’s Mount Field National Park. The falls even featured on Australia’s first pictorial postage stamp back in 1899. At night, glow-worms can be seen among the vegetation along the short walk towards Russell Falls.
#10 Talbot Bay’s Horizontal Falls, WA
No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. Located on the coast of the Kimberley in Western Australia, the opposite end of the state to Perth, Talbot Bay is home to a very unique phenomenon called horizontal waterfalls. Nicknamed the “Horries” (which makes them sound much scarier than they are), this unique water flow is the result of tidal movements; water banks up against one side of the narrow cliff passageway and as it squeezes through the gap, it flows in a waterfall-like motion, horizontally, not vertically. Pretty neat, huh?
(Lead image: Tourism Western Australia)