A hop, skip and a jump down McAllister’s Creek is a hidden but beautiful waterfall with swimming and nature all along the way.
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which this adventure takes place who have occupied and cared for this land for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
- Hiking from swimming hole to swimming hole
- A great blend of creek crossing, rock hopping, and scrambling
- A mixed bag of wildlife from goats to wallabies to goannas
- A true remote hiking experience
You And Nature One-on-One
The first thing that struck me about Sundown National Park was its remoteness. We went on a weekday and we didn’t see another soul the entire time.
No traffic, roads, powerlines, or reception – just you and nature one-on-one. Well, not just us – Sundown is teeming with wildlife if you keep an eye out.
My partner and I drove in late Wednesday night in the bitter cold of winter and were immediately greeted by a Tawny frogmouth perched on a post right outside our campsite at The Broadwater.
Sundown can be stinking hot in summer, but the temperature drops in wintertime, easily reaching sub-zero most nights. This trip was no exception, and we were glad we packed the layers to keep cozy.
Our breath created clouds in the early morning as we ate brekky, but I was snug thanks to Wilderness Wear, who sent us a bunch of merino layers to keep us warm. My favourites were the MerinoFusion light 160 Long Sleeve Tee closely followed by the Flinders Ranges Cool Hiker socks.
Comfortable, ethical, and flattering fits with a high percentage of merino wool are a hard combo to come by in hiking clothes these days!
The Broadwater Campsite is right next to the Severn River, and McAllisters Creek is on the opposite side directly across from the campsite, but it’s too deep to cross at this point.
Follow the trail from the information hut towards Permanent Waterhole, with a fence line on the left, and the Severn River down on your right. Approximately 400m along we cut down the bank and found the shallowest place to cross.
Crikey the water was cold! We were glad for our poles to help get us across, though it wasn’t too deep. Once across, head back along the banks till you reach a (most likely dry at the start) creek bed that is McAllisters Creek. Start following this upstream and away you go!
No Track, No Worries!
There’s no ‘track’ but the creek itself – which we had a great time rock hopping along and stopping regularly to photograph mushrooms, odd animal bones, and fascinating rock formations.
Read more: How To Hike Off-Track
We were lucky as there’d been lots of rain the day before, so the water was flowing impressively with a ton of mini-waterfalls along the way.
When things warmed up, I chucked on the Cool Merino 155 singlet while my partner and I took turns with the MerinoFusion Light Skull Cap – a lightweight beanie that was the perfect thing when we took a break as it adds that bit of warmth and protection from the elements we needed in the cool weather.
It’s not a tricky hike for the most part, but there are scramble sections that you need to keep your wits about you – especially the last section. We got to Split Rock Falls for lunch and took our time admiring the view.
If I didn’t come from a long line of North Queenslanders maybe I would’ve been brave enough to take a dip in the chilly water, it truly is a gorgeous swimming hole at the falls.
Read more: Staying Safe Around Swimming Holes
But instead, I rugged up in my Wilderness Wear layers and waded in just to my knees for a photo. It started to rain so we hustled back before the way out got too slippery.
It’s not a particularly long hike, but we took so many photos it was almost dark when we returned. Despite the mix of sun and rain, I was impressed how the singlet kept me at a perfect temperature and wicked away the sweat and rain.
We still had to wait four hours on the drive home for a shower but I was happy to find the hiking socks were superb, with no blisters and dry feet despite jumping through a creek all day!
- Sundown National Park map and compass
- 2L of water (3L+ in summer plus electrolytes)
- Warm layers (thermal top, spare socks, beanie – Note: merino will wick moisture better)
- Rain jacket and head torch
- Solid hiking shoes and sandals for creek crossings
- Lunch, snacks (thermos of hot tea if swimming)
- Hat, long sleeves and sunscreen (mainly for summer)
- First aid kit with snake bandage and tweezers for ticks and prickly pear cacti
- Fully charged phone (but note that there’s no reception at Sundown)
- GPS device or watch (optional)
How To Get There
Sundown National Park is a long but worthwhile 3-4 hour drive from Brisbane, just a bit further west of the popular Girraween National Park.
The are several access points around the park but the main hiking area is on the south side where The Broadwater Campsite is right on the Severn River. The road in is gravel but 2WD accessible.
The Broadwater is a large campsite that can get busy on weekends, so make sure to book ahead. There are composting toilets and showers, though you’ll need to supply your own water for the showers and for drinking.
Like all national parks, follow the Leave No Trace principles – tread lightly, observe instead of disturb, and leave all areas as you found them.
The hike is not particularly difficult, but requires basic navigation and map reading abilities. There are no signs or markers along the way. Grippy shoes are a must and confidence with scrambling as some sections get quite spicy!
Only go through a section if you are confident you can also get back (don’t risk it for the biscuit as they say!). It’s good to have a buddy with you to help each other out (this isn’t a great solo hike) and be cautious of park conditions following rain.
Distance / Elevation Gain / Duration
- 12km return
- 4-5 hours return, closer to 6 hours with long breaks and photos
- 153m elevation gain
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