Adventure

The Ultimate Australian Waterfall Bucket List

Chasing waterfalls should be our national sport.

Ninties girl group TLC knew a few things about how the world works. But, aside from the killer rhymes in ‘No Scrubs’ and the unrelenting realness of ‘Unpretty’, there’s one that may have missed the mark. In their 1994 jam ‘Waterfalls’, TLC implore that we “don’t go chasing 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 this country, and the only way to really, truly, call yourself Australian is to hop on your bike and see them all.

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Walleman Falls, QLD

The incredible Wallaman Falls are located in Girringun National Park, just 50km past Ingham, 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 over 20m deep. This thing is insane.

Photo: Aaron Spence / Tourism & Events Queensland

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2 / 10

Southern Rockhole, NT

This 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. This is a two-for-one deal – not only will you get a picturesque waterfall to look at, you can also take the plunge and cool off in a totally wild natural swimming hole to boot.

Photo: Steve Strike / Tourism NT

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Fitzroy Falls, NSW

There are three reasons why you should visit Fitzroy Falls. Number one: the falls themselves, which cascade 82m into the verdant Kangaroo Valley. Number two: there are some killer walking tracks to take across the ravine and along the rim of the cliff-face, which lets you bush bash towards impressive vantage points over the valley. Number three: it’s a perennial breeding ground for exotic flora and fauna, including lorikeets, cuckoos, lyrebirds, wedge-tailed eagles, parrots, wallabies, bandicoots, echidnae and kangaroos. Oh and there’s a fourth reason – it’s just a two hour drive from Sydney. Score.

Photo: Andrea Schaffer/Flickr

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Mackenzie Falls, VIC

There’s nothing quite like the descent towards Mackenzie Falls, found in the heart of Victoria’s Grampians National Park. You’ll hear it from far away, thundering through the ample bush that surrounds it. As you make your way down the steep steps, bending around corners (and cursing yourself that you’ll have to walk back up this annoyingly vertical path at some point), you’ll eventually lay eyes on the cascade. Mackenzie, 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 if the weather’s a little warmer – it’ll be worth it.

Photo: Author’s own

Mitchell Falls, Mitchell River National Park
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Mitchell Falls, WA

Mitchell Falls is the outback’s oasis. Found in the remote Kimberley Region of Western Australia, this 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.

Photo: Tourism Western Australia

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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.

Photo: russellstreet / Flickr

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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 200-metre 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.

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Photo: Matt Francey / Flickr

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Barron Falls, QLD

Oof, what a sight! Barron Falls is located northwest of Cairns, and a few kilometres south of Kuranda, with its 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.

Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland

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Russell Falls, TAS

Sitting pretty in the Central Highlands region of our southernmost state is a tiered cascade waterfall called Russell. Russell’s a mighty beast and is the star attraction of Mt 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 the falls.

Photo: Tourism Tasmania

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Talbot Bay’s Horizontal Falls, WA

No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. Talbot Bay, located on the coast of the Kimberleys in Western Australia, 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. But horizontally, not vertically. Pretty neat, huh? Read more about them on our profile here.

Photo: Horizontal Falls Adventures

(Lead image: Tourism and Events Queensland)

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