MacKenzie Falls

Grampians National Park / Wannon Division / Halls Gap, Victoria, Australia

Rating: 3.5     Difficulty: 2
MacKenzie Falls
MacKenzie Falls was hands down the best waterfalling experience we had while touring the west of Victoria that wasn't along the Great Ocean Road. Not only did this waterfall impress us with its size (which I'm guessing was around 35m tall or so), but it also had surprisingly good flow. This was amazing considering how just about all of the Grampians National Park had been a sea of brown and fire tinder while whatever was left standing had been blackened by past bushfires with some kangaroo tails sprouting in between them. Meanwhile, up to this point, just about every waterfall we had seen in this side of the state had been either dry or had been barely flowing.

Julie and I were baffled as to how the MacKenzie River could be flowing so well when just about all the rest of the watercourses had been practically non-existent. We got our answer from a lady at the Halls Gap Visitor Center when she told us that the falls got its water from Lake Wartook, which was an excellent catchment area supplying drinking water to the town of Horsham. As long as the lake had water (which was also further held up by dams to ensure there was a supply), the falls would have flow. It could very well be that the creation of this lake would regulate the MacKenzie River and thereby keep this waterfall flowing reliably year-round even in the face of the Australia's worst drought in 1000 years (or so it was said).

Direct look at a pair of upper tiers of the MacKenzie Falls From the car park (see directions below), Julie and I hiked on two trails, each offering distintly different waterfalling experiences. We started with the 1.75km return walk to the MacKenzie Falls Lookouts, which was along a mostly flat forested track through a partially burnt forest sprinkled with blooming kangaroo tails. We learned from the interpretive signs along the track that kangaroo tails only bloomed after fires, and there were indeed intense wildfires that plagued Grampians National Park on multiple occasions prior to our visit. When we reached the lookout, we were able to have a top down look at the falls where we could appreciate the entire context of the falls as well as all of its upper tiers.

When we returned to the car park, we then took the 1.16km return track down gentle steps to the bottom of the MacKenzie Falls. Near the top of the falls, there was a detour to the Broken Falls. Unfortunately, that track was closed so we can't say anything about how that waterfall looked nor what the walk was like. Anyways, as we descended on the main track to the bottom of MacKenzie Falls, we were able to walk alongside some of the upper tiers, including an attractive two-tiered section that could have been a pleasant swimming hole on its own (if it weren't in the midst of more drops immediately downstream).

Once we made it to the bottom of the track, we were face-to-face with the impressive MacKenzie Falls from across its plunge pool. Sprinkled about the pool were some large boulders. We weren't sure how those boulders got there, but they kind of acted like nice photo subjects fronting the very photogenic waterfall. The walking track continued further downstream of the falls which allowed us to get more unusual views of the falls as we got more distant from the falls itself. The track kept on going further downstream, but we didn't continue beyond eyesight of the falls so we can't describe what was further on in this track.

Overall, Julie and I spent a little less than 2 hours to do both tracks to the upper lookouts of MacKenzie Falls and to its base. Just witnessing this miracle of a healthy waterfall amidst an area so hard hit by Climate Change reaffirmed our perception of Nature's resiliency despite the bleak circumstances.

Directions: We spent the night before our visit to the Grampians in Stawell so we'll describe our driving route from that town.

From the Western Hwy (A8), we continued went on the Grampians Road (C216) for about 24km towards Halls Gap in the heart of the Grampians National Park. Then, we turned right onto Mount Victory Rd which then became Northern Grampians Rd (C222) and followed it for the next 16km to the turnoff for MacKenzie Falls on the right. Shortly after getting onto the turnoff, we arrived at the well-signed car park, which had ample parking.

At about 11km on the Northern Grampians Rd along the way to the falls, look for a turnoff on the left for the Balconies, which yielded some really neat panoramas of the Grampians National Park. It was a worthwhile detour.




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PHOTO JOURNAL
Looking past some mushroom rocks or pedestal rocks towards Lake Wartook in the distance, which was the very source of MacKenzie Falls
On the way to MacKenzie Falls, we passed by a stop called the Balconies, which also offered some really neat panoramas of the general Grampians area
An alternate top down view of MacKenzie Falls from a different track, where we could appreciate the drought conditions as evidenced by the charred trees and the explosion of kangaroo tails
When we took the alternate trail for MacKenzie Falls, we saw lots of kangaroo tails like these, which were said to sprout after a bushfireWhen we took the alternate trail for MacKenzie Falls, we saw lots of kangaroo tails like these, which were said to sprout after a bushfire

An alternate trail led us to this view of MacKenzie Falls showing its full contextAn alternate trail led us to this view of the falls showing its full context

Full context of MacKenzie Falls from the alternate viewpoint showing how brown everything was around the falls as well as the kangaroo tail and charred trees showing how fire once swept through hereFull context of the falls from the alternate viewpoint showing how brown everything was around the falls as well as the kangaroo tail and charred trees showing how fire once swept through here

Sign at the start of the walk to the base of the MacKenzie Falls.  Note the Broken Falls track was closed during our visitJulie on the walking path going to the base of the falls. Note the Broken Falls track was closed during our visit

Julie on the walking path going to the base of the MacKenzie FallsJulie on the walking path going to the base of the falls

Looking down over the top of Mackenzie FallsLooking down over the top of MacKenzie Falls

Profile view down past the main plunge of MacKenzie Falls showing a hint of its plunge pool beneathProfile view down past the main plunge of the falls showing a hint of its plunge pool beneath

Looking down at the steps we had to take to make it down to the base of MacKenzie FallsLooking down at the steps we had to take to make it down to the base of the falls

Sideways view of the MacKenzie Falls as we near the bottomSideways view of the falls as we near the bottom

View of MacKenzie Falls from a footbridge further downstreamView of the falls from a footbridge further downstream

Looking back at MacKenzie Falls after going a little further downstream for an unusual viewLooking back at the falls after going a little further downstream for an unusual view


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS



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MAP OF THE FALLS

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TRIP REPORTS
For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES



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Mckenzie Falls, Australia 
I visited my brother and sister in law in Adelaide in 1996 and they took us to stay at Halls Gap in a log cabin,a Kookaburra was on the veranda to greet …

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