Tropical North Queensland may be renowned for its World Heritage Reef and Rainforest, but the spectacular waterfalls scattered throughout the region are just as worthy of a visit up North.
Dense rainforest, gushing falls, smooth boulders and crystal-clear swimming holes make a day spent at any of these waterfalls the perfect way to unwind in tropical paradise.
Just a short drive from Cairns City, this hidden fall is as magical as its name suggests. A perfect morning or afternoon outing, it’s a short 25 minute drive from Cairns City to Crystal Cascades, where the falls are located. Follow the scrub on the left side of the carpark until you reach the creek, which leads to this enchanting waterfall.
When Cairns locals hear that Barron is flowing, they don’t waste time hopping in the car to check out these iconic falls. The dramatic gorge, just 30 minutes away from the city, comes to life when rushing water cascades down its rugged peaks. Follow the signs from Kuranda to arrive at the lookout or see it from the air on one of Heli Tours North Queensland’s scenic helicopter flights. Both the Heli Pub Tour and 60 minute Reef & Rainforest Flight take in the exhilarating sight of Barron Gorge and its falls.
For the intrepid waterfall chaser, Nandroya Falls is a spectacular off-the-beaten-path waterfall that will leave you breathless (and not just from the hike in!). Beginning at the Henrietta Creek Campground, a 3km path takes you through the rainforest to the base of the falls. A split in an enormous moss-covered wall sees 50 metres of water crashing into a large swimming hole, perfect for cooling off after your walk.
One hour south of Cairns lies Josephine Falls and its stunning boulders, perfect for lazing on with a picnic. The crystal-clear water couldn’t be more inviting on a warm summer’s day, so don’t forget to bring your swimmers. There’s even a natural waterslide!
So pretty they named it twice, Millaa Millaa Falls are a foolproof addition to any Tropical North Queensland waterfall bucket list. Enjoy an easy drive in, parking almost at the base of the falls, before relaxing on the grass with front row views. Don’t forget to get an infamous Instagram photo flipping your hair out of the water – made famous by a Herbal Essence shampoo commercial. We recommend staying nearby to enjoy a complete Tablelands experience. Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat is exquisite and the perfect launchpad for Millaa Millaa and other attractions – if you can bring yourself to leave!
Heading north, Mossman Gorge is a must-do if you are visiting Port Douglas. Located at the foot of the Daintree – the oldest living rainforest on Earth – and linked to an Indigenous ecotourism centre, Mossman Gorge offers one of the best ways to connect with culture and nature. With rainforest walks, suspension bridges and pristine swimming holes on offer, the Gorge is a perfect family outing. To really get the most out of your experience, consider a guided Dreamtime Walk tour and learn about the ancient flora and fauna and their relationship with Kuku Yalanji culture. Adventure North offer a wonderful tour combining Mossman Gorge and Cooya Beach guided indigenous experiences.
Less waterfall, more pristine watering hole, Emmagen Creek is nestled in the oldest living rainforest on the planet, the Daintree. You’ll find the creek at the start of the Bloomfield Track, a world-renowned 4WD track north of Cape Tribulation. Unless there’s been heavy rain, you won’t need a four-wheeler to reach this spot, just park before the creek crossing and follow the path on the left for about 800 metres. Better yet, let someone else take the stress out of driving for you by joining an adventure-filled Daintree & Cape Tribulation tour. We love the one offered by Billy Tea Safaris.