Make sure you wear long pants for this bush-bashing blast to Stairway Falls. After avoiding the Gympie Gympie, you’ll be ready to jump into the cool waters at the falls and on the way.
- Rockhop down scenic Canungra Creek
- Relax by beautiful waterholes
- Go bushbashing and listen for local wildlife
Seeking Out Stairway Falls
As soft beams of morning light permeated through the thick rainforest canopy, an 8-strong crew of hikers headed out on an off-track adventure. This adventure was taking the crew to Stairway Falls — a hidden gem in Lamington National Park.
A graded track once led to this unique destination, but it was taken out of commission and left to the forest some years before. Today, the access route to Stairway Falls is a bush-bashing, Gympie Gympie avoiding, rock-hopping adventure along the west branch of Canungra Creek.
Bull Ant Spur To Yerrahlahla Pool
The hike starts from the top of Bull Ant Spur. The way down the spur starts in rainforest by Lamington National Park Road, before descending into drier forest via a rough leaf strewn footpad that is marked with pink ribbons.
The steep descent passes beautiful trees and massive vines, and you’ll be treated to sounds of local birds. Due to thick leaf litter, the descent down can be slippery, so good hiking shoes are essential. You’ll be grabbing onto passing tree trunks and branches to slow your descent as you head down to the creek.
After about 45 minutes, the spur intersects with the end of the West Canungra Creek Circuit. We followed the graded track down and enjoyed the early morning light playing on the Yerrahlahla (Blue) Pool where the track ends.
Avoid The Gympie Gympie If You Can!
After a rest to enjoy the blue and golden highlights on the waterhole and nearby cascades, it was across the creek to start bush bashing. The old trail was easy to find at first, but increasingly became covered by tree falls, small landslips and a mess of vines, weeds and Gympie Gympie.
With low creek levels, we took the opportunity to rock-hop down the creek which was way more fun than avoiding Gympie Gympie (with most of our crew suffering from a painful brush with the stinging plant).
Along the way, we enjoyed crystal clear pools, dense moody forests, and clambered over fallen trees.
Welcome To Stairway Falls
As we approached Stairway Falls, the old graded track was rediscovered and led us to a beautiful basalt column lined waterhole and the falls. This hidden gem is unique because of these basalt lava columns — an uncommon sight away from the coast.
Lamington National Park was formed by basalt lava flows from the now extinct Mt Warning around 25 million years ago! These basalt columns create handy natural steps leading down to the waterhole above the waterfall.
From the top of the falls, you can follow the old graded track down and then look for pink ribbons on your right after a short distance to find a rugged way down to the base of the falls.
Then enjoy some time exploring the area around the creek and take a dip if you’re brave enough to tackle the cold water. Return the way you came with a steep climb up to the top of Bull Ant Spur.
- Rock hopping
- Swimming (for the brave)
- Insect repellant (for leeches when it’s wet and ticks when it’s dry)
- Long pants and long sleeved shirt due to stinging plants
- Hat and sunscreen
- Lunch and snacks
- About 2 litres of water
- Hiking shoes
How To Get There
The hike to Stairway Falls starts from the top of Bull Ant Spur in the Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park. There’s no official parking or sign but there is a large clearing and space for 2 cars, but it’s easy to miss.
The clearing is on your left as you’re driving up Lamington National Park Road, shortly after where Duck Creek Road comes out onto the national park road — and before Luke’s Farm Road.
From the clearing, head up the road a few metres and look for a pink ribbon wrapped around the base of a tree on your left and an obvious footpad down the spur.
Intermediate – Advanced dependent on creek levels. If creek levels are low, this isn’t such a hard hike as you can simply rock hop down the creek with ease. If creek levels are high, it will make it a lot harder. The old graded track is evident in only a few places, but mostly overgrown and it’s a battle keeping to the trail amongst the tree falls, lantana and Gympie Gympie.
Best to attempt this hike in dry conditions.
You will also need some navigational savvy to find and negotiate your way down Bull Ant Spur as it’s only a very rough footpad that is easily lost.
Duration / Distance
The duration of this hike will be highly dependent on creek levels. With low creek levels, it will take about 6 hours for competent hikers with good rock-hopping and navigation skills. The 6 hours includes rest breaks to enjoy the Blue Pool and Stairway Falls.
Allow about 8 hours if creek levels are high, which will greatly slow you down.
Going down Bull Ant Spur, the hike is 11km return.
A longer alternative is to approach Blue Pool on the graded West Canungra Creek Circuit track, but this will add time and kilometres.