Rainbow Falls and Rockpools

Blackdown Tableland National Park / Dingo, Queensland, Australia

About Rainbow Falls and Rockpools


Hiking Distance: 5km round trip (falls only); 5.5km round trip (both falls and rockpools)
Suggested Time: 1.5-2 hours (falls only); 2-2.5 hours (falls and rockpools)

Date first visited: 2022-07-04
Date last visited: 2022-07-04

Waterfall Latitude: -23.85202
Waterfall Longitude: 149.09693

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Rainbow Falls is actually a series of tall waterfalls deep in the remote Blackdown Tableland National Park in the Central Highlands of Outback Queensland.

While the waterfall itself might be reason enough to go out of the way to experience, it was really an upstream trio of clear rockpools each with cascades that made this place “Instafamous”.

Rainbow_Falls_139_07032022 - The Rockpools above Rainbow Falls (Gudda Gumoo)
The Rockpools above Rainbow Falls (Gudda Gumoo)

Regarding how this waterfall and its associated rockpools became viral on the socials, I’m sure this effect was further exacerbated with doctoring of photos (particularly with colour-saturation enhancements).

In fact, I was quite surprised at how many people I encountered during my early July 2022 visit despite having to endure unusual Dry Season rains (causing flooding up and down the East Coast).

As for the waterfall itself, from what I could tell, I was able to get close to a 40m plunging tier, which I’d imagine was its main drop.

However, I was able to witness at least two or three more tall sections further downstream of the main drop from the Gudda Gumoo Lookout.

Rainbow_Falls_067_07032022 - Rainbow Falls or Gudda Gumoo in the language of the Ghungalu People
Rainbow Falls or Gudda Gumoo in the language of the Ghungalu People

Speaking of which, according to the Ghungalu people, they call the place Gudda Gumoo (rainbow waters), and it is the eel-like flow of Moonda Gudda that whimsically chooses where to flow and give this place life.

Timing A Visit To Rainbow Falls

Now while there are springs that may keep Gudda Gumoo from totally drying up, whether Rainbow Falls puts on a show or not really depends on the seasons.

Based on historical norms, the waterfall is supposed to flow best during the Wet Season, which is the Australian Summer as it gets most of its monsoonal rains.

However, I made my visit during the Dry Season, which is supposed to cause the waterfall to trickle (when only remnant springs would supply flowing water) when the rains stop.

Rainbow_Falls_037_07032022 - While Rainbow Falls may have seasonal flow and wanting to see it flow means needing it to rain, the views tend to be obscured by clouds if it does rain
While Rainbow Falls may have seasonal flow and wanting to see it flow means needing it to rain, the views tend to be obscured by clouds if it does rain

Of course, as you can see in the pictures on this page, my visit happened during a rain storm, which replenished the watercourses and allowed me to witness the waterfall as if it was the Wet Season.

Under such circumstances, I also had to contend with low clouds that conspired to block the views, which further reinforces the thinking that Nature whimsically decides when and how she wants to reveal aspects of herself.

Trail Description – Hiking To The Gudda Gumoo Lookout

According to the signage, the excursion to experience the Rainbow Falls and its Rockpools was said to be about 4km round trip or 2 hours.

However, according to my GPS logs, the cumulative hiking distance (including all the detours) was more like 5.5km round-trip taking me 2.5 hours away from the car.

Rainbow_Falls_015_07032022 - The Gudda Gumoo Track initially passed through an open dry forest where many of the trees had blackened bark, which I'd imagine had seen a fire or two
The Gudda Gumoo Track initially passed through an open dry forest where many of the trees had blackened bark, which I’d imagine had seen a fire or two

The overall hike can be divided into three sections – the Gudda Gumoo Lookout, the Gudda Gumoo Gorge, and the Rockpools.

So starting from the Gudda Gumoo Trailhead (see directions below), I hiked about 1.5km on a gently descending path through an open plateau forest.

The trees here noticeably featured bark that had been blackened by fires, which suggested to me that this forest is typically dry.

Perhaps that’s why the Moonda Gudda is as important as it is to this region given the noticeably drier climate (especially compared to the monsoonal rainforests that were prevalent along Queensland’s coastal ranges and tablelands).

Rainbow_Falls_025_07032022 - This contextual view of the Moonda Gudda dropping into Gudda Gumoo Gorge reveals how Rainbow Falls has more tiers below its main drop that the trail was going closer to
This contextual view of the Moonda Gudda dropping into Gudda Gumoo Gorge reveals how Rainbow Falls has more tiers below its main drop that the trail was going closer to

Eventually, I reached an unsigned spur where a seemingly informal track led me to the left about 100-150m towards the edge of a rocky escarpment.

It was from the edge of this escarpment that I got expansive views of the Gudda Gumoo Gorge, where I was able to appreciate the full extent of Rainbow Falls and its multiple tiers.

Looking further downstream, I was also able to better appreciate how deep the Gudda Gumoo Gorge was before the low clouds quickly rolled in and obscured the views.

Trail Description – Hiking Into The Gudda Gumoo Gorge

After having my fill of the Gudda Gumoo Lookout, I returned to the Gudda Gumoo Track and continued the hike for another 400m or so towards a signposted trail fork.

Rainbow_Falls_046_07032022 - Approaching the signed trail fork where the path on the left descended to Rainbow Falls within the Gudda Gumoo Gorge
Approaching the signed trail fork where the path on the left descended to Rainbow Falls within the Gudda Gumoo Gorge

Along the way, the track crossed a seasonal creek over some slippery smooth bedrock while providing more partial (and teasing) glimpses of the surrounding escarpment scenery through the dry forest.

The signed fork was just past a rest and lookout area with a couple of interpretive signs.

At the signed fork, the path on the left descended 240 steps into the Gudda Gumoo Gorge and eventually the base of Rainbow Falls.

The path on the right didn’t have any signage saying where it went, but that’s the path that ultimately went to the top of the falls as well as the rockpools (both of which I’ll get to in the next section).

Rainbow_Falls_052_07032022 - The 240-stepped descent into Gudda Gumoo Gorge to the foot of Rainbow Falls passed beneath this intriguing overhang that seemed like it would have been a good spot for Aboriginal rock art to have taken place
The 240-stepped descent into Gudda Gumoo Gorge to the foot of Rainbow Falls passed beneath this intriguing overhang that seemed like it would have been a good spot for Aboriginal rock art to have taken place

So taking the 240 steps path, it steeply went down maintained steps before going under an intriguing overhang with reddish underwalls (the kind of place that could have had Aboriginal rock art though I didn’t see any here).

After some more steep descending on the remaining steps, the trail finally deposited me by the plunge pool at the foot of 40m main drop of Rainbow Falls.

At the immediate end of the maintained track, the views of the falls were a bit on the obstructed side, and I needed to do some rock scrambling to get away from the tree obstructions for a better view.

Because the creek was shallow, I was also able to cross it and follow some faint paths through a rock-wedged “tunnel” before finally getting a direct frontal view of the Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow_Falls_083_07032022 - Frontal view of Rainbow Falls after doing some short scrambling to improve the views
Frontal view of Rainbow Falls after doing some short scrambling to improve the views

If I turned back from here and returned to the car park, then this out-and-back hike would be about 4km round trip

Trail Description – Hiking To The Rockpools

Going back up the steps and now taking the remaining path at the signed fork, I followed it for about 150m before reaching an open slab area where I noticed a faint path leading down to the brink of Rainbow Falls.

Again, given the rainy conditions that I had to deal with, I didn’t do the slippery scramble to get down to the escarpment edge, but it certainly looked doable.

Continuing further upstream and rejoining the main track, the path proceeded for another 150-200m before the track disappeared onto the stream bedrock again.

Rainbow_Falls_138_07032022 - The Instafamous Rockpools further upstream from Rainbow Falls or Gudda Gumoo
The Instafamous Rockpools further upstream from Rainbow Falls or Gudda Gumoo

At this point, it was basically a short scramble to spot the rockpools, and then scramble over its stream before finding a reasonable scrambling path to get down to a ledge on the other side.

It’s from this ledge that you can carefully access the rockpools as well as to witness the cascades spilling into each pothole (as shown in the picture above).

While it looked like you can extend the excursion and explore further upstream towards potentially other rockpools and cascades, this was my turnaround point.

The hike and scramble to these rockpools added another 1.5km to the 2-hour 4km Gudda Gumoo Gorge hike, thereby making the overall distance 5.5km and 2.5 hours according to my logs.

Authorities

Rainbow Falls (Gudda Gumoo) resides in the Blackdown Tableland National Park near the rural town of Dingo, which itself is west of Rockhampton, 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.

Drive_to_Rainbow_Falls_015_iPhone_07042022 - Given the bad weather that we encountered on the day we visited Rainbow Falls, we had to contend with some fairly intimidating-looking flooding that took place on the Fitzroy Development Road down to Dingo during our early July 2022 visit
Drive_to_Rainbow_Falls_022_iPhone_07042022 - Another flooded section of the Fitzroy Development Road that we had to deal with on the drive down to Dingo during our early July 2022 visit
Drive_from_Rainbow_Falls_018_iPhone_07042022 - Approaching the mountains ahead that were part of the Central Highlands upon which Blackdown Tableland National park resided while on Charlevue Road en route to Gudda Gumoo during our early July 2022 visit
Drive_to_Rainbow_Falls_040_iPhone_07042022 - Continuing on the narrowing paved road as we climbed onto the Blackdown Tableland en route to Gudda Gumoo during our early July 2022 visit
Drive_to_Rainbow_Falls_047_iPhone_07042022 - Approaching the end of the pavement just past this turnoff for the Horseshoe Lookout en route to Gudda Gumoo during our early July 2022 visit
Drive_from_Rainbow_Falls_004_iPhone_07042022 - Continuing to follow the signs for Gudda Gumoo on the way to the Rainbow Falls hike during our rainy early July 2022 visit
Drive_to_Rainbow_Falls_052_iPhone_07042022 - The unpaved road continuing deeper into Blackdown Tableland National Park en route to Gudda Gumoo during our early July 2022 visit
Drive_to_Rainbow_Falls_063_iPhone_07042022 - Driving over some small but sharply protruding rocks that conspired to flatten tyres en route to Gudda Gumoo during our early July 2022 visit
Drive_to_Rainbow_Falls_081_iPhone_07042022 - Some parts of the road had some bedrock protruding upwards, which was one of the reasons why they recommend having 4wd or at least high clearance when pursuing Gudda Gumoo
Drive_to_Rainbow_Falls_083_iPhone_07042022 - Going over some mild washboards on this straightshot portion of the road to Gudda Gumoo during our early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_001_07032022 - Looking back at the end of the unpaved road as seen from the Gudda Gumoo Trailhead during our early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_004_07032022 - Gently descending at the start of the Gudda Gumoo Track as it passed through an open dry forest during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_008_07032022 - Some interesting yellow flowers flanking the Gudda Gumoo Track alongside some thin trees as seen during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_010_07032022 - Continuing to pass by more thin black-barked trees and some shrubs on the way to Rainbow Falls during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_013_07032022 - Context of the early part of the hike down to Rainbow Falls (Gudda Gumoo) as seen during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_018_07032022 - Approaching an unsigned escarpment lookout yielding nice contextual views of the Gudda Gumoo Gorge during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_026_07032022 - My earliest look at the Rainbow Falls (Gudda Gumoo), which actually had surprisingly more tiers than I had thought as seen during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_033_07032022 - Context of the rock formations atop the escarpment I was on that yielded the early views of Rainbow Falls during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_034_07032022 - Crossing the slippery smooth bedrock of a temporary creek (made wet due to the rains on my early July 2022 visit) as the track continued to go closer to Gudda Gumoo
Rainbow_Falls_039_07032022 - It didn't take long before clouds really came in and started to create a more eerie feeling to my Gudda Gumoo experience in early July 2022
Rainbow_Falls_041_07032022 - Approaching what appeared to be a lookout area with a couple of interpretive signs, which made me wonder if this was what the signs were referring to as the Gudda Gumoo Lookout during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_048_07032022 - Descending the track leading the final 150m or so to the base of Rainbow Falls during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_049_07032022 - Continuing the descent past some rocks and tall trees on the way down to the base of Rainbow Falls during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_051_07032022 - Approaching an interesting overhang that provided momentary shelter from the rain, which wouldn't let up during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_054_07032022 - Another look at a particularly tall slab of rock that seemed to be holding up part of the overhang on the way down to Rainbow Falls' base during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_055_07032022 - Another look at the context of the trail and the tall rock slab at the overhang on the way down to the base of Rainbow Falls during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_057_07032022 - Looking back up at the rock steps that I took to get into the overhang on the way to the base of Rainbow Falls during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_059_07032022 - Continuing the steep stair-stepped descent to the base of Rainbow Falls during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_061_07032022 - Looking down at the zig-zagging steps to the bottom of Rainbow Falls during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_062_07032022 - Another look at the height of the stair-stepped descent in the final stretch before reaching the base of Rainbow Falls during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_064_07032022 - Finaly making it down to the base of Gudda Gumoo or Rainbow Falls during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_066_07032022 - Portrait look across the plunge pool towards Gudda Gumoo as the rain was coming down harder during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_069_07032022 - Looking downstream from Rainbow Falls as I looked for a way to improve the view during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_071_07032022 - Partial portrait look at Rainbow Falls from closer to its bottom as seen during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_074_07032022 - I found it curious that there was this green pillar that might have held up a sign or had a number on it at the base of Rainbow Falls during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_075_07032022 - Contextual look at Rainbow Falls from well downstream as I scrambled towards a closer look of it during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_090_07032022 - Scrambling beneath a jumble of rocks forming a tunnel of sorts on the way to getting right in front of the Rainbow Falls during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_091_07032022 - Looking back in the other direction from underneath the jumble of rocks as I sought a closer and more frontal look at Rainbow Falls during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_098_07032022 - Looking back at the slippery bedrock that I had to cross in order to get right in front of Rainbow Falls during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_102_07032022 - After having my fill of Rainbow Falls, I then headed back up the 240 steps to regain the main trail to continue towards the Rockpools during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_106_07032022 - Going back up through the overhang on the way back up to the trail to the Rockpools during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_109_07032022 - Going back up through the interesting overhang on the way back up to the trail to the Rockpools during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_110_07032022 - Now on the trail continuing further upstream towards the Rockpool as well as the top of Rainbow Falls during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_114_07032022 - Looking down across the brink of Rainbow Falls when the clouds had momentarily parted during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_125_07032022 - Noticing some interesting kind of plant with some fuzzy swabs at the end of their stems as seen on the way to the Rockpools during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_130_07032022 - Approaching the bedrock where the Rockpools were during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_160_07032022 - After a bit of scrambling, I finally got around to this view of the famous Rockpools as seen during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_167_07032022 - Looking downstream over the brink of the Rockpools during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_169_07032022 - A more contextual look at the rocky bedrock terrain forming pools and puddles in the rain as I started to leave the Rockpools during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_171_07032022 - Going past some fallen tree where I wasn't sure if this was intentionally put there to indicate it's not a trail or if it just so happened to have fallen this way
Rainbow_Falls_172_07032022 - Going back through the fog to return to the Gudda Gumoo Trailhead to conclude my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_176_07032022 - Back at the Gudda Gumoo Lookout and interpretive signs (though I still contend the real lookout was the unsanctioned one I was at earlier where I first saw Rainbow Falls)
Rainbow_Falls_180_07032022 - Noticing a wallaby on the way back from Rainbow Falls during my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_182_07032022 - Back among the yellow flowers on the final stretch to the car park to conclude my early July 2022 visit in Gudda Gumoo
Rainbow_Falls_186_07032022 - Back among the black-barked trees near the car park for Gudda Gumoo at the end of my early July 2022 visit
Rainbow_Falls_188_07032022 - Finally making it back to the Gudda Gumoo car park where there was another car that actually showed up and a fairly large party of people headed to the Rainbow Falls in the rain during my early July 2022 visit


Rainbow Falls (Gudda Gumoo) resides deep in the Blackdown Tableland National Park near the rural town of Dingo, which itself is about 148km (90 minutes drive) west of Rockhampton (the nearest city of significant size).

I’ll describe the driving directions from Dingo since there could be other routes to take if the aim is to drive to Rainbow Falls and not necessarily going through Rockhampton to get there.

Drive_from_Rainbow_Falls_022_iPhone_07042022 - After leaving Capricorn Highway onto Charlevue Road roughly 12.5km west of Dingo, we had to pass through open pastures, which meant every so often, we shared the road with cows
After leaving Capricorn Highway onto Charlevue Road roughly 12.5km west of Dingo, we had to pass through open pastures, which meant every so often, we shared the road with cows

So from Dingo, we drove about 12.5km to the signed turnoff for the Blackdown Tableland on the left (Charlevue Road).

From there, we followed this road for about 37km all the way to its end while following signs for Gudda Gumoo.

Note that this road gets progressively rougher (i.e. more ruts, rocks, and deep potholes) the further into Blackdown Tableland National Park you go.

While our Hyundai Santa Fe was able to get through these stretches without too much difficulty, I’d imagine 2wd passenger vehicles might have a tougher time not bottoming out.

Drive_to_Rainbow_Falls_089_iPhone_07042022 - The drive to Rainbow Falls became increasingly rougher the further into Blackdown Tableland National Park we went
The drive to Rainbow Falls became increasingly rougher the further into Blackdown Tableland National Park we went

Moreover, there are moderately steep hills (especially inclines) where you’re probably going to need either 4wd or some momentum or else risk not having enough traction to make it all the way up.

This is especially the case when it’s wet like it was for us on our visit in early July 2022 during some unusual La Nina rain storms that actually produced some flooding on the Fitzroy Development Road going south to Dingo.

It’s worth noting that the same storm actually caused more massive flooding near Sydney and other parts of New South Wales though the East Coast of Queensland certainly was affected as well.

Overall, this drive took us a little over an hour (not including all the driving it took to get to Dingo in the first place).

Rainbow_Falls_002_07032022 - The car park for Gudda Gumoo (or Rainbow Falls) at the end of the fairly rough drive that left the Capricorn Highway at Charlevue Road
The car park for Gudda Gumoo (or Rainbow Falls) at the end of the fairly rough drive that left the Capricorn Highway at Charlevue Road

For geographical context, Rockhampton was 288km (over 3 hours drive) northwest of Bundaberg, 336km (about 3.5 hours drive) south of Mackay, 481km (about 5.5 hours drive) south of Airlie Beach, 632km (over 7 hours drive) north of Brisbane, 718km (8 hours drive) south of Townsville, and 1,064km (over 12 hours drive) south of Cairns.

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Brief sweep of the context of Rainbow Falls from the first lookout before the clouds rolled in


Front side sweep of the falls from its base as the rain was coming down


Brief video showing the most frontal look at the falls after having crossed the creek and scrambled to the edge of the plunge pool


Upstream to downstream sweep of the Instagram Pools and falls before panning back to the entirety of the falls again

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Tagged with: woorabinda, gudda gumoo, dingo, blackdown tableland, central highlands, capricorn, rockhampton, queensland, ghungalu, moonda gudda, rockpools



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.