What better way to spend your weekend than chasin’ waterfalls in the picturesque Southern Highlands? Just a coupla hours south of Sydney, the Southern Highlands is a readymade slice of paradise for all you waterfall junkies.
- Cramming as many waterfalls into each day as possible
- Tasty bakery treats!
- Gorgeous countryside roads perfect for road tripping
As part of the Great Dividing Range, the Southern Highlands is chock full of plateaus, valleys, and flowing rivers – an absolute hotbed for waterfalls. Stretched across the lands of the Gandangara and Wodi Wodi people are a glorious array of waterfalls ready to be explored. This road trip crams nine Southern Highlands waterfalls into one weekend!
Day 1 – Morton and Budderoo National Parks
First out of the box is the sensational Fitzroy Falls – a single 80 metre drop waterfall located in Morton National Park. Flowing from Wildes Meadow Creek into the stunning Yarrunga Valley is a powerful waterfall, which tends to flow generously all year round.
Being the most frequently visited waterfall in the Southern Highlands, it’s best to knock this one out of the park in the early morning before the crowds arrive.
You can park at the Visitor Centre for free if you have a NSW National Parks Annual Pass. From there, your first glimpse of Fitzroy Falls is an easy five minute stroll away. The path will place you at the top of the waterfall, but for the best views of Fitzroy Falls, check out the other lookouts along the 4.5km West Rim Walking Track.
Jersey and Renown Lookouts are the pick of the bunch in this 1.5 – 2 hour return hike. The 6.5km East Rim Walking Track is another solid option for hiking, but doesn’t serve up the same glorious views as the West Rim Walking Track.
The next waterfall to explore is the two-tier Belmore Falls, plummeting over 100 metres into the Barrengarry Creek. Also located in Morton National Park, Belmore Falls is easily one of the best waterfalls in the Southern Highlands.
From the Hindmarsh Lookout car park, it’s a straightforward 1.5km return hike that follows the rim’s edge and lands you at the lookout facing the falls.
Admittedly, photography of Belmore Falls is challenging in the morning with the sun rising above it (and the same goes for Carrington Falls). But never mind that, you’ll simply be blown away by this stunner of a waterfall and the glorious sweeping views of the Southern Highlands.
Keep in mind that the track leading to the base of the falls has been closed by NSW National Parks since 2017. But not to worry, there are many other beautiful waterfalls to admire around the Southern Highlands – onto the next!
Carrington Falls and Nellies Glen
Flowing from the pristine Kangaroo River is the underrated Carrington Falls, with a healthy drop of around 55 metres. Located in the neighbouring Budderoo National Park, the Carrington Falls Walking Track is an easy 0.6km return loop providing stellar views of the waterfall and surrounding cliff walls.
Although Carrington Falls isn’t quite as impressive as Belmore Falls, the lookouts are much nearer to the waterfall, so you’ll feel closer to the action.
After scoping out Carrington Falls, you should check out the Nellies Glen Picnic Area, right around the corner. Nellies Glen is a much smaller waterfall but has an epic swimming hole to help you cool off after your first day of chasin’ waterfalls. Pack a picnic and wile away the afternoon in the gorgeous glen.
Day 2: Macquarie Pass National Park and Minnamurra Rainforest
Clover Hill Trail – Rainbow Falls, Mulangong Falls, and Clover Falls
Rainbow Falls is the first and the easiest to reach. From Rainbow Falls, finding the exquisite Mulangong Falls and Clover Falls requires some further ‘off-trail’ navigation which can be quite tricky.
Get the complete low-down: Clover Hill Trail in Macquarie Pass National Park Has 3 Waterfalls to Chase
If you’re an inexperienced hiker, it might be a safer bet to make the return trip from Rainbow Falls. But if you’re up for the challenge, your patience, persistence and efforts will be rewarded by some truly phenomenal waterfalls. Given their difficulty to reach, finding Mulangong and Clover Falls is a ripsnorter of an adventure.
With the Jump Rock Trail closed for the foreseeable future, the other waterfall to check out in Macquarie Pass National Park is Cascades Falls.
In fact, the Cascades Walk is located adjacent to the Clover Hill trailhead, so there are no excuses for skipping this waterfall, especially as it’s only a 2km return hike that’ll take around half an hour.
Plus, you’ll be absolutely blown away by some of the epic woody vines on display.
Last but not least is the mesmerising Minnamurra Falls located in the Minnamurra Rainforest. By now you’ll be wishing you’d bought yourself a NSW National Parks Annual Pass to cover all your parking costs.
From the car park, you’ll be tackling the surprisingly steep 4.2km return Falls Walk. Gates close here at 5pm, so make sure you give yourself enough time to get back. But even with jelly legs by this time of the weekend, the hike shouldn’t take more than two hours.
As you meander your way through the rainforest, you’ll marvel at the considerably different landscape, compared to the bushland of nearby Morton National Park. Soon enough, you’ll be admiring Minnamurra Falls – a calming and tranquil, softly cascading waterfall.
Want More Waterfalls?
Although these waterfalls are not as dramatic or high, they’re less well known than their big brothers, so you might get to enjoy them all to yourself.
For more natural attractions in the Southern Highlands, add in a trip to Jamberoo Lookout or Manning’s Lookout, or if you’re keen on a longer hike, consider the 9.5km Three Views Walking Track in Morton National Park or the plethora of trail options in Barren Grounds Nature Reserve, to fill out your weekend.
Camping in The Southern Highlands
Your Southern Highlands weekend escape wouldn’t be complete without an idyllic campsite to soak in the natural ambience.
The Bendeela Camping and Picnic Area is a laid back, serene and charming campground. It’s the perfect setup for a restful night after waterfall chasin’ during the day – plus, you might even spot a wombat!
If you’re keen to keep with the waterfall theme, pitch your tent at the more bushy and basic Carrington Falls Campground.
Looking to stay closer to town? The Moss Vale Village Caravan Park or Mittagong Caravan Park allow easy access to services. Although camping in town won’t have you feeling as immersed in nature, these caravan parks are good value for money and have decent facilities.
Putting Those Kilojoules Straight Back on
Bowral is the cultural hub of the Southern Highlands with a classy and historical feel. Filling the streets are stylish manor houses, antique stores, and boutique eateries. So make sure to stop in for at least a coffee at any one of the quaint cafes on Bong Bong Street.
For when you’re on the go exploring waterfalls, make sure to take a lunch break at the famous Robertson Pie Shop on day one. It makes for a convenient stop on your way between Carrington Falls and Belmore Falls. But more importantly, their pies are bloody fantastic!
Otherwise, the Kangaroo Valley Bakehouse is a great shout for a quick lunch stop. If you’re after a pub feed head to The Friendly Inn in Kangaroo Valley or for those with a sweet tooth, you’ll be adding in a stop at Gumnut Patisserie.
In just one weekend, you can pack in the most outstanding waterfalls of the stunning Southern Highlands. In fact, you’ll be exploring the absolute best of the Budderoo, Morton and Macquarie Pass National Parks while you’re at it.
- Hiking boots
- Waterproof/windproof jacket
- Fleece/down jacket (located 500-900m above sea level, the Southern Highlands can get really cold overnight, particularly during winter)
- Insect repellant
- Plenty of water
- Food (hiking snacks and meals at the campsite)
- First aid kit
- Camping equipment if you plan on staying the night
Start and End Points
Assuming you’re escaping the hustle and bustle of Sydney, you can either head down to the Southern Highlands on the Friday night or make an early start on Saturday morning.
Either way, after a jam-packed weekend exploring the main waterfalls of the Southern Highlands, expect to be arriving back in Sydney late on Sunday evening.
Distance Driven / Time Spent Driving / Days
Sydney to Bowral: ~120km / ~1.5 hours
Southern Highlands Exploring: ~100km / ~2 hours
Southern Highlands Exploring: ~60km / ~1 hour 15mins
Minnamurra Rainforest Centre to Sydney: ~110km / ~1.5 hours