2 days, 8 waterfalls, 18.3km of walking, 25,263 steps with 283 leeches and 596,206 horse flies, all in the name of research for you guys. Our beloved Ausventurians.
WE ARE HERE
The Atherton Tablelands are well known for a few things. It’s a beautiful lush getaway, where there’s misty mountaintops and tiny historical towns, long winding roads all through some of Australia’s best food bowl. And, waterfalls. We decided to check out as many of the falls as our legs and minds could handle. So 8 waterfalls later (7 of those being in just one day!) and here’s our rundown on each, so if seeing 8 sounds like insanity to you, hopefully this will help you choose the one you really want to visit.
We started off from our free camp west of Ravenshoe, making our way eastward towards the coast. So first on our trail was Millstream Falls.
There’s a steady downhill path from the carpark to the viewing platform overlooking Millstream Falls. The geology of the falls was created many moons ago after various volcanic events, the results of which can now been seen in the column markings of lava above and behind the falls. The area was also used as a training ground during WWII, and a walking circuit leads you through old camp ruins and trenches. Troops would even use the valley of the gorge for grenade training!
The falls were beautiful and the wartime history added another great layer of depth. However, this was the first waterfall of our day, and we were certain we could find something to get a little more up close and personal with.
These next 2 waterfalls are located off the Old Palmerston Highway, Pepina Falls and Souita Falls. The first of which being, Pepina.
Very unsuspecting, with a sign smack bang on top of the falls you’ll almost miss them, like we did! We turned back and pulled off to the side of the road and at first we thought ‘oh, is this it?’ Sitting in the car we stared out at a small creek that flowed over the edge of an embankment. We’d thought that these waterfalls might have some better viewing points. Then we saw the hidden path in a wall of green! A short rocky and slippery staircase lead down 20 meters to the base of the falls. Bingo.
The falls are small with a little pool collecting at the bottom, before flowing further along the creek. There was not another soul here, and if you felt like exploring you could wander down the cool stream, over the slippery rocks to see what lies around the next bend… oh, but beware of the leeches! (In fact, consider this warning for all further waterfalls discussed here)
Souita was next, with a similarly laid back vibe. Just enough room on the side of this country road to park up and disappear down a path into the rainforest. It’s a simple track through the scrub, only a few hundred meters in total. With 2 seperate lookout points, Souita Falls has some beautiful rock formations for the water to cascade over. As we made our way through some sticky spiders webs, we wondered how long it had been since anyone had laid eyes on these falls. There’s no swimming here , and beware there are some super steep steps leading to the second lookout. As an added bonus, up the road you’ll find some of the regions brilliant food bowl produce, with humongous home grown butternut pumpkins and farm fresh eggs. Love the road side stalls!
These 2 waterfalls definitely get an honourable mention from us. They’re simple little treasures that are perhaps not seen as frequently as other waterfalls in the area.
The Millaa Millaa Waterfall Circuit
Millaa Millaa Falls
These falls are probably the best known waterfall of the Tablelands, and you don’t even have to get out of your car to see them! We took a timeout here and had some lunch – chasing waterfalls is hungry work! There was plenty of birdlife flitting around while we ate, and plenty of cars coming and going too. At the base of the falls is a concrete viewing platform and swimming too. Millaa Millaa has a beautiful broad cascade waterfall, and if you find the path hidden to the left of the falls, you can get a gorgeous close up view and imagine you are the only one there. Honestly though, our hearts are more in love the more natural a place is. A hike to get to a waterfall is even better. This one is fantastic for accessibility, but just a bit too popular for our love of intimate raw nature.
While Millaa Millaa is the star of this mini waterfall circuit, behind all great stars are those in the wings. Zillie and Ellinjaa Falls.
Zillie & Ellinjaa Falls
The tall drop of Zillie Falls was a short easy stroll from the carpark, that lead to a fenced lookout. But the magnitude of the falls was hard to appreciate with only an obscured side view to see this lass. Although on further research, many people have in fact made it down to the base of the falls (and it looks beautiful) so maybe there is another hidden path here too.
Ellinjaa was a totally different story. This was the beauty that Millaa Millaa presented but in a much more natural setting. We wound down a path for a few hundred meters through ferns and strangler figs to find our Cinderella. This is how we like our waterfalls; natural and raw.
While these had all been beautiful, none of them had quite quenched the feeling that we’d seen something that truly awed us…
These falls are located in the middle of an outdoor education camp, but are still kindly accessible to the public and totally free (just like all the other waterfalls on this list!). From the carpark you can view rapids leading to the falls, but to see the falls themselves you need to pass through the canteen area to either the upper or lower viewing platforms. The lower view point is a hike down the road (and then back up!) but it does also offer the opportunity to see glow worms at night. If you still want to see wildlife but don’t want the hike, check out the falls from the upper lookout then head across the road and stroll along the platypus walk to see if you can spot one of these shy little guys.
As they say, we saved the best for last. In the name of honesty we must disclose that there were a heck of a lot of horse flies here and enough leeches to give Dracula a run for his money. Yet, even with all those critters, Nandroya Falls spectacular aura could not be tainted.
This one takes a bit more effort to get to, but if you’re willing and able the hike will only add to your enjoyment. A circuit from Henrietta Creek campground, winds along leaf covered slippery paths, precariously perched on the side of a steep embankment. There’s rocky river crossings where you’ll see more mini magical waterfalls, amazing little fungi and birdlife to boot!
If you read our blog from El Questro Station back in the Kimberley, you’ll remember how much we loved Emma Gorge. So much so, that it has remained our favourite waterfall thus far. Well, Nandroya gave Emma a run for her money! If you asked us now which was our favourite, it would be like asking a parent which of their kids was their favourite. Impossible to answer.
Our next blog will be from: Australia's tallest waterfall!
Until our next update - see you on / off the road 😉
Cassie and Micky