Paddys Falls is the biggest and best waterfall in Mt Barney National Park and almost no one knows about it. Miranda went deep to find this one and it turned out to be more than worth it.
We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Bundjalung Nation, the traditional Country of the Bundjalung people 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.
- Short hike with a touch of scrambling and rock hopping
- Great swimming
- Fun but hectic creek crossings
Mostly Known for Mountains
Most people think of Mt Barney National Park as the place to go for intense rock scrambling and difficult ascents to make it to one of the many peaks.
Read more: Hiking Mt Barney Summit
Often hot, dry, and mainly all bush, this park is probably not what comes to mind when looking for a swimming oasis away from the crowds.
I’ve been to Lower Portals many times (Barney’s main swimming hole) but being a popular track, hikers usually have to share with dozens of others – even on weekdays. When I stumbled across a short blog on Paddys Falls online, I was sceptical to say the least. All the grainy phone photos people had posted showed a dried-up wall surrounded by even drier bush.
Track notes were fairly nondescript, but I had a topo map so thought, why not! I managed to round up some mates who were even more sceptical than I was, but it’d been raining all week so we had a flicker of hope.
Finding Paddys Falls
The start of the hike is at the end of Drynan Road which, if you have a low-clearance 2WD like me, can make the drive a bit spicy after a lot of rain. There’s only one creek crossing, which isn’t too bad, but it’s a dirt road that gets muddy and overgrown in sections. We parked at the second closed gate where there’s an old building – this is the start of the hike.
Now, before you rush to get ready, keep the boots in the pack for now and chuck on a pair of sandals, because a hundred metres into the hike is one decent creek crossing! Follow the fence from the cars to the left and you’ll come across a National Parks sign and a track – follow this to Barney Creek.
Please note! Following rain, this crossing can be dangerous with strong currents – play it safe and bring a buddy, and don’t be afraid to call it off.
We were greeted by high waters and flooded banks, hardly a rock hop across – we almost turned around right then and there. But we tentatively shuffled in, holding our packs up as the water came up to the waist and managed to push through the strong currents without great difficulty. Luckily, we were a big group and helped each other across, dragging the hobbits among us through with big sticks.
From here, it’s smooth sailing along a fire trail. Follow it along for a few kilometres, until the trail comes to a fork. The right fork leads straight down to the creek, which you can follow all the way to the falls, but it’s slow going and overgrown. The left main trail leads up a hill to the top of the falls and some spectacular views.
At the top, I recommend heading off the trail and directly right through open bushland, which’ll take you to the edge overlooking the falls. Follow the edge along until you find the easiest way to scramble down to the falls (be careful of loose rocks). If you’re not comfortable scrambling, it’s best to take the rock hopping route along the creek.
Holy COW! Paddys Falls is absolutely torrential, we were gobsmacked! Barney has a waterfall, and it’s HUGE.
Needless to say, we took our time swimming and having lunch at the base. The water was chilly but refreshing after the hike.
Again, return either rock hopping down steam or scramble up either side of the falls to the track.
Successful scout-out achieved!
- Mt Barney National Park map and compass
- 2L of water (3L+ in summer plus electrolytes)
- Warm layers for after swimming
- Dry bags for the creek crossing
- Rain jacket
- Head torch, just in case
- Sandals for creek crossings
- Lunch, snacks (thermos of hot tea if swimming)
- Long sleeves
- Sunscreen (especially for summer)
- First aid kit
- Fully charged phone (limited reception)
- GPS device or watch (optional)
Read more: Remember to leave no trace!
How To Get There
Mt Barney National Park is approx. 1.5 hour drive from Brisbane. Following Upper Logan Road (that leads to Yellow Pinch car park), turn off onto Seidenspinner Road, the dirt road that leads to Lower Portals car park but turn left onto Drynans Road instead.
Pass through the first gate (make sure to close it behind you if this is how you found it). After a few minutes, you’ll pass over Rocky Creek which, following excessive rain, can come over the tracks so be wary. The next gate with an old hut is only a few hundred metres past this creek with some cleared grassy spots for parking. Don’t go through the second gate, this is private property.
Please note! If Rocky Creek is flowing over the road, the first creek crossing in the hike will be difficult but the falls will be pumping.
The hike is not particularly difficult or long, but requires basic navigation, map reading abilities, and involves a major river crossing. There are no signs or markers along the way. Be cautious of the river conditions following rain.
Distance / Elevation Gain / Duration
9km return / 4-6 hours return, closer to 6 hours with long breaks, swimming and photos / 250m elevation gain