Most people know Macquarie Pass as the twisting and turning gateway to the NSW South Coast. But hidden amongst the rainforest and cliffs are gorgeous waterfalls to find along the Clover Hill Trail.
- Discovering hard-to-reach waterfalls
- Secluded wild swimming
- Adventurous off-track hiking
One of the best hiking trails in the Macquarie Pass (Mac Pass) National Park is the Clover Hill Trail. Thanks to the fabulous flow of the Macquarie Rivulet, this hike has many a waterfall to chase. Better yet, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Sydney and Wollongong.
But not all of the waterfalls are easy to find – locating Rainbow Falls is straightforward enough, but getting to Mulangong and Clover Falls requires some off-track exploration as you follow the river and navigate the less defined paths upstream.
Before reaching the first waterfall, you’ll have a dense forest landscape to enjoy. Along the 3km hike to Rainbow Falls, the ferns, plants, and leaves become increasingly lush and tropical.
Nearing the end of the official Clover Hill Trail, you’ll reach an exposed grassy area where you’ll need to follow a narrow dirt trail to your right.
The trail soon becomes muddy and leads down to the river towards Rainbow Falls – a multi-stream cascade converging beautifully over a fascinating rock platform.
Interestingly, the Wodi Wodi people, the original custodians of the land, used this river to travel between the coast and highlands. Without a doubt, Rainbow Falls is a gorgeous part of this river stream, but watch your step as it’s quite slippery around the edges of the rock platform.
Now, if you’re up for some exploration to find the remaining waterfalls, including Mulangong Falls, briefly follow the trail upstream and cross the river. From this point, there’s no marked trail to follow. With the river to your right, you’ll need to navigate through thick forest and choose the appropriate side-trails, leading to the cascade waterfalls along the stream.
Sounds easy enough right? Well, simply following the stream is practically impossible as large boulders form natural obstacles, forcing you to continuously hike away from the river. The trick is to find any path that stays as close to the river as possible, when possible.
Inevitably though, you may follow some side-trails towards the river that don’t directly lead you to Mulangong Falls. But not to worry, as there’s plenty of other lovely cascades to explore along the way.
Mulangong Falls is much larger than the neighbouring cascades, so it should be easily recognisable even if it’s a bit hidden. Hopefully, with some good fortune and persistence, you’ll be relieved to find the magnificent Mulangong Falls.
It majestically flows down an uneven vertical rock platform, splitting into two main streams, both gracefully spilling below into a shallow pool.
Even if you’ve had a tough time finding Mulangong Falls, make sure to press on to find Clover Falls – the most outstanding waterfall of the entire trail.
Once you’ve rejoined your chosen path, continue further upstream. With a bit of hard work, patience, composure, and trial and error, you’ll reach the outskirts of the thick forest and find a gathering of large boulders.
As you navigate around these, you may even start to hear that all-too-familiar sound of a waterfall. This time it’s the stunning Clover Falls which powerfully crashes into a pristine turquoise swimming hole. After a tough hike to reach Clover Falls, you deserve a rest, and maybe even a swim. Go on then!
- Hiking boots
- Waterproof/windproof jacket
- Insect repellant
How To Get There
There aren’t any public transport options for reaching the Clover Hill Trail so you’ll need a car.
Once you turn off the Illawarra Highway onto Clover Hill Road in Mac Pass, you’ll immediately enter a small car park – this is where the trail begins. There’s probably enough space for a dozen cars, so make sure you get here early on the weekend before it fills up.
If you’re after a little bit of help navigating to Mulangong and Clover Falls, please feel free to use our GPS guided directions. However, these directions won’t help a lot when it comes to navigating the less defined track further upstream which requires instinct and good judgement, more than anything else.
Finding the final waterfalls requires challenging self-navigation along the river bed so you’ll want to be a fairly experienced hiker to tackle this micro!
Distance Covered / Elevation Gain / Duration
9-10km / 350m / 3–3.5hours