About Kondalilla Falls
Kondalilla Falls is the most impressive waterfall in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland north of Brisbane in Southeast Queensland.
This waterfall is where Skene Creek drops a reported 80-90m within the Blackall Range, and is best experienced by doing some or all of the Kondalilla Falls Circuit Track.
At the top of the waterfall is also a Rock Pool, which has a waterfall of its own as well as the opportunity to go for a swim.
That said, not many people were swimming on our very cold and wet visit in early July 2022 where La Nina Rains subverted the normal Dry Season.
So that allowed us to witness this waterfall flowing instead of trickling (as it typically has its best flow in the Wet between January and March).
To get the most out of our experience with Kondalilla Falls, I did the entire 4.6km Kondalilla Falls Circuit, but there was also a shorter loop between the car park leading up to the main circuit walk.
Indeed, the track took on more of a figure-8 shape, and as a result, I ended up doing this hike in a way that minimized the amount of backtracking (i.e. I explored as much of the figure-8 as I could).
Trail Description – Prior To The Kondalilla Circuit
From the car park (see directions below), we followed a well-signed paved path that immediately went 150m through some of the rainforest before entering a clearing.
The clearing featured picnic shelters as well as a restroom facility, but then the trail continued to plunge back into more rainforest as it went by some signs indicating what to look forward to on this hike.
The trail continued another 150m or so descending towards a bridge spanning Picnic Creek with a nice cascade spilling before the bridge.
Beyond the bridge, the path then climbed up to a fork where there was a path that followed Picnic Creek downstream while there was an upper path that went towards the Obi Obi Valley Lookout.
Both paths lead to the Rock pool and the brink of Kondalilla Falls in another 1km so we opted to follow the upper track on the right first and then come back on the Picnic Creek path on the way back.
So continuing on the upper rainforest path, there were some rest benches as well as ferns, boardwalks, and tall trees, which attested to tendency for high rainfall in this area.
After about 600m from the first fork of the trail, we arrived at the Obi Obi Valley Lookout though it was partially obscured by clouds from the rain during our early July visit.
Beyond the Obi Obi Valley Lookout, the trail then went another 100m to rejoin the main trail (or at least the one that briefly followed Picnic Creek for a ways).
Then, in another 200m, the trail descended along some cliff ledges before reaching the next trail junction.
This junction is the beginning and end of the actual Kondalilla Falls Circuit, where the Rock Pool was another 100m away to the left.
At the Rock Pool, there was a large plunge pool with a 5m waterfall going into it.
Meanwhile looking in the other direction, there was a lookout right above the brink of Kondalilla Falls itself, where you can get a nice look at the valley carved out by Skene Creek.
It looked like there were remnants of an old trail that clung to the cliff ledge with perhaps a closer perspective of the Kondalilla Falls.
However, it was probably destroyed in a rockslide (seeing how abruptly it ended and now there are barricades and warning signs), and I suspect this might have had something to do with a trail closure here back when we tried to visit in May 2008.
Anyways, for many people, this is the turnaround point, but for those willing to extend the walk, there was the opportunity to finish the Kondalilla Falls Circuit.
From the Rock Pool, you can cross the bridge over Skene Creek and continue on the circuit trail in a clockwise manner, and I saw quite a few people do that.
However, on my early July 2022 visit, I opted to backtrack to the trail junction and do the Kondalilla Falls Circuit in an anticlockwise manner, which I’ll describe in more depth below.
Trail Description – The Kondalilla Circuit Itself
So from the trail junction, I descended the stair-stepped ledge path for another 200m before reaching a lookout.
It was at this lookout that we managed to get our first satisfying look at Kondalilla Falls (provided the rain clouds had parted enough to see it).
For all intents and purposes, this was the turnaround point for my wife and daughter as they weren’t interested in doing the whole circuit (and this is why I’ve been using the first person to describe this experience).
So I continued on the steep descent beyond the lookout for another 250m or so, passing before the Kondalilla Falls before reaching another signed junction.
At this junction, the path on the left went to the bottom of Kondalilla Falls while the path on the right continued the circuit walk.
So going 100m down the left path, I then encountered a bit of a slippery boulder scramble, which was required in order to see the Kondalilla Falls from its bottom.
Only after getting through this somewhat rough and slippery scramble did I finally stand right at the foot of the impressive Kondalilla Falls.
While this waterfall was said to be 90m tall, it certainly looked smaller from this vantage point thanks to its forced perspective (and possibly its changing slope cutting off visibility of its uppermost sections).
Once I had my fill of this spot, I then backtracked to the neighbouring junction and proceeded on the circuit track towards a bridge spanning Skene Creek.
In nearly another 200m from the bottom of the falls, there was another signed trail junction, where I kept left to start ascending back up to the Rock Pool and complete the Kondalilla Falls Circuit.
Next, I continued to walk a mostly featureless 600m stretch that pretty much stayed within the rainforest canopy before it ascended high enough to start clinging to cliff ledges.
Eventually, the circuit track returned to the Rock Pools, where I then proceeded to go another 100m back to the original trail junction to complete the Kondalilla Falls Circuit.
Now, it was time to head back to the car park, but this time, I kept right at the next trail junction so I could follow the path I had skipped earlier that went partways along Picnic Creek.
And finally after getting back to the bridge on Picnic Creek, I then went straight back up through the picnic area before finally returning to the Kondalilla Falls car park to end this excursion.
Overall, my logs had indicated that it took me about 2.5 hours to complete the entire circuit, and that I had walked on the order of 4.8km.
This contrasted a little with the 4km distance and two-hour commitment stated in the literature and the signposts.
Some of that delta could be attributed to little detours, a little backtracking, and just trying to take in the experience without rushing.
In any case, despite the fairly nasty weather we had been experiencing in early July 2022, this track was still very popular as there wasn’t much time for solitude before encountering another person.
Kondalilla Falls resides in the Kondalilla Falls National Park near Montville, Queensland. It is administered by the State of Queensland Department of Environment and Science. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.
Kondalilla Falls National Park is in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland with the closest town being Flaxton though there are also other neighbouring towns like Montville and Mapleton.
There are actually many ways of getting to Kondalilla Falls National Park from the M1 Motorway, but the way we did it was from the exit 208.
This exit deposited us at a roundabout where we took the third exit onto Bli Bli Road, which would then become Route 23 (Blackall Range Tourist Drive).
We then followed Route 23, and we’d take it for about 20km to the signed turnoff on the right for the Kondalilla Falls National Park.
Note that most navigation software as well as GPS satnav units will want to take you onto the Dulong Road, which is a much steeper and narrower shortcut residential road.
However, I’d strongly recommend staying on the Route 23 so you’ll always have the support of signs at key junctions when in doubt.
Anyways, once on the Kondalilla Falls Road, we’d drive the final 750m to the Kondalilla Falls car park.
Overall, this approach along the Route 23 between the M1 Motorway and Kondalilla Falls National Park would take around a half-hour or so.
For geographical context, Flaxton was about 4km (5 minutes drive) north of Montville, 5 km (about 5 minutes drive) south of Mapleton, 102km (over 90 minutes drive) north of Brisbane, 183km (about 2.5 hours drive) north of Gold Coast, and 545km (about 6.5 hours drive) south of Rockhampton.
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