Sydney is blessed by natural beauty.
And some of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights and sounds are that of water falling.
Perhaps it’s thanks to the soothing sounds of the water, or the thought that the water flowing over the rocks has been doing so for thousands and millions of years, slowly but surely forging its path? Or maybe it’s the feeling of the water on your head and body as you swim underneath; a refreshing shower out in nature?
Whatever the calling, here are ten of the closest waterfalls to Sydney, so that you can make a quick escape and enjoy some of the natural beauty the city has on its doorstep.
1. Jump Rock, Macquarie Pass National Park
Found at the base of Macquarie Pass (on the left-hand side if you’re coming from Albion Park), Jump Rock is a clear favourite come the summer months. With the lush rainforest surrounding you, hiding and providing home to many native species, the location is fairy-tale like. However, the trail to the pools can become quite difficult to navigate after rain as it has some steep inclines on both the way in and the way out. Nonetheless, a round trip is only about 3kms so with a bit of patience and steady feet, the trail is suitable for most people.
As the name suggests, there will often be people jumping off the cliff into the pools below. As such, it’s important to remind everyone that this is a risky activity and can cause serious injury or death. We suggest you stick to the pools and have a relaxing swim or try the natural water slide.
2 and 3. Nellies Glen and Carrington Falls, Budderro National Park
Just an hour and a half from Sydney, Budderoo National Park is home to two beautiful cascades: Nellies Glen and Carrington Falls. The latter has a 50-metre plunge and is considered by my many locals to be the most beautiful in the area. However, Nellies Glen is just as gorgeous in our opinion and slightly more inviting to a cascading-water massage. Nellies Glen is also a phenomenal picnic spot where you can relax under the shade of eucalypt trees or go in search of blue objects on the forest floor—the tell-tale sign that a male satin bower bird is in the area.
4. Collins Flat Beach, Manly
Tucked away between North Head and Little Manly, Collins Flat Beach is home to Sydney’s closest waterfall. And though it’s not the type to blow your mind, it’s proximity and seclusion from other areas makes it a favourite for romantic dates and quick city escapes. The best time to visit is right after a rainfall, especially during autumn when this tiny cascade is at its most ferocious (which, I might add, is not very ferocious). Keep your eyes peeled too as the area is Fairy Penguin habitat, which also means that no dogs are allowed.
5. Wattamolla Falls, Royal National Park
Paradise is no secret. It’s got a waterfall, a lagoon, a picnic area, and a beach to boot. And it’s just 30-odd clicks from the city, which does mean that there is a downside to paradise — Wattamolla is generally quite busy, especially in the summer months and on glorious weekends when all you want is a bit of sand between your toes and water out in front. Nevertheless, the view from the top of the waterfall, particularly when the rising mist combines with the sunlight hitting the ocean in the distance, is truly an enchanting sight. And though you’re not allowed to jump from the top of the waterfall (there is a barrier fencing it off), many people do so at their own risk.
6. Curracurrong Falls, Royal National Park
A little further along from Wattamolla Falls, you’ll find Curracurrong Falls — one of very few waterfalls in the world to fall directly into the ocean. Right next to the waterfall you’ll find Eagle Head Rock, which is another stunning sight. To reach both, you’ll just need to follow the signs along the Royal Coastal Walk from Wattamolla.
7. Winifred Falls, Royal National Park
If your idea of paradise is a little more private and hard to reach than Wattamolla Falls, then what you need to do is delve a little further into Royal National Park, park the car and walk the four kilometres up the Winifred Falls Fire Trail until you reach said Winifred Falls. It is entirely possible that you will find yourself alone, and the calm waters make for the perfect place to relax, recharge, and enjoy the quieter moments in life.
8. Upper Gledhill Falls, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park
The ten-metre wide pool receiving the cascading water of Upper Gledhill Falls and the natural amphitheater of trees, boulders, and bush makes for a super-soothing Sunday drive at just under 30km from the city. There’s no car park so you’ll have to be careful where you leave your vehicle, but this just means you’re more likely to have peace and quiet at this tranquil watering hole. However, it has been known to get quite busy at times during the summer.
9. Maddens Falls, Dharawal National Park
Just an hour drive from the city and less than a kilometre walk from Darkes Forest Road, Maddens Falls is a natural haven. The lookout, though, does not actually give the best view of the waterfall. For that, you will need to get your feet wet and cross to the other side of the creek. However, it is a bit of a trek down to the middle rock platform and not suitable for everybody. There’s plenty of wildlife to spot as well, which makes Maddens Falls a great place to take the kids to.
10. Kellys Falls, Garawarra State Conservation Area
On the road to Wollongong, you will find this unofficial swimming spot. The path that leads to it is unmarked and can be quite tricky to navigate, especially after rainfall. But, what lies at the bottom of Kelly’s Falls is a compact yet deep swimming hole where visitors are able to jump off a couple of ledges, one of which has a makeshift rope ladder to aide those keen on taking the leap. It is important, though, to check for debris before taking the plunge. Surrounding the pool is bush, bush and a picnic area, helping to make Kelly’s Falls a favourite during the summer months.
It might now just be time to go chasing waterfalls. But, be safe and make sure to consult with the NSW National Parks And Wildlife website to check for road closures or issues that might hinder your plans. And remember to wear appropriate footwear and clothing when walking through the bush.