In sunny Queensland in Australia, nothing beats the cool fresh waters of natural creeks in the hot humid heat of summer. With most of the easily accessible water holes filling up with crowds, there are still some awesome places you can get the much needed seclusion and have a great day out.
There is one such place in Lamington National Park. Stairway Falls. For the average adventurer, its a chance to get the remote feel but without going too remote. Located near Green Mountains, it’s a trip well worth the effort, and in my opinion, beats all the other water holes in Lamington National Park. It might even be one of my favourites...
Like most swimming places in Queensland, a bit of rain helps keep the water fresh. On all my trips there the water has been beautiful. On the way there as you rock hop along the creek, keep an eye out for a massive log across the water. It made for a fun distraction trying to balance across. You will also come across a huge flat boulder resting against a cliff. Imagine the crash a long time ago as it came careening down the slope above. It forms a cool little cave that's worth going under. Once at Stairway Falls, the various pools offer ‘spa’ baths, jumps and slides. On one trip we even made a little zip line for some extra fun. There are 3-4 pools that comprise stairway falls. Most of them can be deep enough for jumps (see warning below). The bottom pool can be tricky (slippery) to get back up so a hand-line can make this easier.
WARNING: Always make sure to check the depth before jumping and never dive headfirst!
It was hard getting a view of all the pools in one photo. Its quite a large area.
Plenty of jumps, and all with convenient multi height levels!
This little guy was enjoying the day as well!
A fallen tree begging to be balanced on!
There are two ways to get there. Both options involve rock hopping and following the creek part of the way. There is no direct or marked track there for the last part of the trip. Stairway falls is located HERE.
Option 1 (moderate)
This way is easier in terms of navigation and comfort, but longer in distance. There is less chance of getting lost along the way as you follow graded tracks for most of the journey.
Park at Green Mountains (O'reilly's) at Lamington National Park. Head along the West Canungra Creek Circuit off the border track. This is the first track division on your left as you walk along. Follow this all the way to Blue Pool (Yerralahla) and then head downstream instead of following the remainder of the track. Just keep following it until you get to the obvious Stairway Falls. This should take around an hour from the Blue Pool.
Option 2 (hard)
This option is a little more difficult but is a more direct way. You can mix and match the 2 options, going in one way and out the other. Be warned that this route is not a marked track and can be hard to follow for those not used to off track navigation. If in doubt, use option 1.
Park approximately HERE. Head into the rain forest to the east, following the top of the ridge downhill (known as Bull Ant Spur) and aim to end up HERE (Blue Pool). There are a couple of steep sections so just navigate around them with care. There is NO TRACK for this way, so you should be confident and capable of off track navigation. Be advised that a even more direct route heading in a northerly direction will bring you to very steep terrain that is heavily overgrown. I tried it once and did not enjoy it one bit. Once at the Blue Pool, head downstream. Just keep following it until you get to the obvious Stairway Falls. This should take around an hour from the Blue Pool.
Once you are at the falls, scramble around and down the waterfalls. Some basic scrambling skills will help here. Always keep an eye on the group and ensure everyone can do it safely, you will have to scramble up the way you came! With careful planning and route finding, it is easy enough to navigate down the rocky sections.
TRIP LENGTH: Approx 2-3 hours walk in, same on return. Allow a full day with swimming.
TRIP DIFFICULTY: Moderate
◘ Short length of rope to act as hand line
◘ Food and snacks
◘ Footwear that can get wet
◘ Towel & spare clothes if needed
Spa baths a plenty!
Our little zip line we made.
If the photos can't convince you to go there, then I don't know what will! If you haven't made any trips into the wild before, take a few graded tracks first if you don't feel confident. The more you practice the better you'll get. While air conditioning can be attractive on those hot days, nothing beats having a good day outdoors.
And besides, being in nature good for you!
Always remember to carry out all waste and food scraps. Leave no trace so others can enjoy it for years to come.