About Rainbow Falls and Rockpools
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Find A Place To Stay
Related Top 10 Lists
No Posts Found
Trip Planning Resources
Featured Images and Nearby Attractions
Visitor Comments:Got something you'd like to share or say to keep the conversation going? Feel free to leave a comment below...
No users have replied to the content on this page
Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:If you have a waterfall story or write-up that you'd like to share, feel free to click the button below and fill out the form...
No users have submitted a write-up/review of this waterfall