The barely-there track to Larapinta Falls isn’t the simplest or steadiest one. But Michael reckons the reward at the end might just be the best in all of South East Brisbane.
We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Yugambeh Nation, the traditional Country of the people of the Yugambeh language group who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
- Test an off-track hike to the base of the enormous Larapinta Falls
- Pass by the historical site of Westray’s Grave
- Pristine roads and views driving through the Lost World Valley
Looking for Larapinta Falls
The well-known waterfall and rainforest hikes through Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland mainly start from two popular areas: Binna Burra and Green Mountains (O’Reilly’s). But there’s a lesser-known area, aptly named the Lost World Valley, on the backside of the park that deserves a visit for the challenging and impressive hike to Larapinta Falls.
There are no concrete paths or viewing platforms at Larapinta Falls. In fact, there’s hardly anyone there at all due to the rough off-track approach to the base. However, it’s well worth the effort to reach the falls and the natural, green amphitheatre that surrounds it.
Read more: How To Hike Off-Track
So if you’ve seen and experienced the famed waterfalls in the Gold Coast Hinterland like Purling Brook Falls, Twin Falls, Morans Falls, and Coomera Falls, then it’s time to check out Larapinta Falls. I think you may just find it to be the best waterfall in South East Queensland.
Entering the Lost World Valley
To drive to Green Mountains or Binna Burra, you gradually wind your way up to the Lamington Plateau, switchback after switchback. By contrast, the Lost World Valley sits at the base of the plateau, near the small Scenic Rim town of Darlington. The plateau appears even more dramatic from this view, as a sheer slab that dominates the horizon.
As you drive closer to the start of the hike, the dry farmland and cattle grids give way to the encroaching rainforest and small bridges over creek crossings. There’s a smattering of houses and cottages hidden away behind the thick foliage, as well as a campground.
The hike to Larapinta Falls starts near the terminus of the 2WD accessible Christmas Creek Road where there’s a small, clearly marked car park.
Following Christmas Creek
The early stages of the hike hug closely to the banks of Christmas Creek. Some sections are rough, especially when there are fallen trees across the track, and there are a few steep pinches, but overall the footpad is relatively clear to follow. It does pay to have a map or GPS app ready to consult, as the trail heads in odd directions at times and it’d be easy to wander off in the wrong direction.
When the trail isn’t following Christmas Creek, it’s deviating through the rainforest where there are colossal strangler figs and ferns. After 4km or about an hour of solid walking, there’s a small clearing which is the historical site of Westray’s Grave, where Jim Westray is buried following the Stinson plane crash in 1937.
It’s at this spot where the track to the Stinson Wreck branches off. Upon seeing the brutal uphill start to this track, we were glad we were sticking straight along the relatively flat terrain to the falls. If you’re willing, you can turn the hike to Larapinta Falls into an epic overnight combo with the historical trek to the Stinson Wreck.
The Jewel at the End of the Trail: Larapinta Falls
It’s about another 30-60 minutes to Larapinta Falls from Westray’s Grave. Navigation seems easy enough, just follow the creek, especially when it branches to the left after the grave. Any remnants of a formed track disappear, and while there’s pink and orange tape along the way, you can’t rely on it.
With stinging plants abound, deep sections of water, and plenty of fallen flora, it’s all about following the path of least prickliness and wetness. Some sections are easy going along the creek’s banks, while other parts require care picking your way across the creek. The going would be much slower after rain.
About 400m away from Larapinta Falls, a glimmer of white can be seen through the faraway trees. At first, I thought it was a cloud way off in the distance. After walking a bit further, the realisation that yes, that’s the waterfall hit. I’m used to suddenly coming around a corner to a waterfall or seeing it from the top and then winding down to the base. The way Larapinta Falls teases you and gradually reveals itself from a distance is unique.
As you get closer, the falls continue to increase in height and the vast green bowl of ferns surrounding it opens up. Larapinta Falls feels similar in stature and power to its famous Springbrook neighbour, Purling Brook Falls. We visited during a dry spell of weather and the falls were still flowing really well.
If the water is flowing enough, the base of the falls is a tempting spot for a swim; otherwise, there’s more than enough other spots along the hike to take a dip.
Read more: Staying Safe Around Swimming Holes
We enjoyed lunch and the light spray coming off the falls for the better part of an hour before retracing, or at least attempting to retrace, our steps back to the car.
There are no facilities on the trail or at the car park. The nearest toilets are at the Stinson Park day use area and campsite.
- Hiking shoes
- Water bottle
- Small towel and swimmers if you’re going to take a dip
- Insect repellant
- Dry bag for valuables/electronics in case of a spill while rock-hopping along the creek
- Map or GPS App with the route preloaded
- Water or purifying tablets/filter to fill up as you go from the creek
- First aid kit
Read more: Remember to leave no trace!
How To Get There
The start of the Larapinta Falls hike is a two-hour drive from Brisbane or the Gold Coast. There’s a marked car park near a causeway at the end of Christmas Creek.
Intermediate – Advanced
Large parts of the hike are not marked and are on rough terrain that requires rock hopping skills. Basic navigational skills are necessary.
Distance Covered / Duration / Elevation Gain
10km return / 3.5-4 hours solid walking / Negligible elevation