Where is it: Three Mile Road, Crows Nest, Qld – about 2 hours’ drive west of Brisbane (or 45 minutes’ drive north of Toowoomba)
What's it all about: A lovely and quiet National Park with a few little swimming holes!
Tell me more: This is a really nice day trip from Brisbane that will see you in a lovely bush setting! Pack a picnic and your walking shoes to take a relaxing walk through quiet bushland and beautiful granite outcrops. And don’t forget your swimmers and towel as there a few easy to access creek and swimming hole locations along the walk. You can’t swim in the falls themselves as it is quite dangerous, however there is a lovely lookout point and after heavy rain the falls can be quite impressive! There is lots of wildlife as well – we saw birds, goannas and wallabies when we visited, but there are also platypus in the river (we weren’t lucky enough to see any though)! There is a picnic area with toilets and bbq areas however there is no water so you will need to bring your own. A lovely visit for the day or even better to camp for a night or two!
Amenities: Basic facilities but ok considering the relative isolation! 👍👍
Cost: Free to enjoy the park, however you will need to factor in the cost of getting there! 👍👍👍👍
Parking: Parking is free and there should be enough place for everyone! 👍👍👍
Access: It’s a little out of the way, but that’s part of the charm of this place! 👍👍
Best for: A lovely day trip and perhaps suited for the more mobile kids 4 and up! 👍👍👍
Summary: Crows Nest Falls National Park is lovely region and it really feels like you are right in the outback! 👍👍👍👍
Everyone in Brisbane knows about Mt Coot-tha. The highest spot in city area, with a nice café and beautiful views out across the city. Most people also know about the botanical gardens and planetarium, the gardens are just gorgeous and I think everyone would find something of interest at the planetarium. I reckon that everyone we know has visited these great spots at Mt Coot-tha, as have we. But Mt Coot-tha has plenty more attractions and things to see - lots of walking tracks and trails, picnic and barbecue areas, even waterfalls!
We have visited Mt Coot-tha a number of times however we had never taken the time to get out and explore. Time for a change to that! We decided to go exploring and see if we could find the elusive JC Slaughter Falls (‘elusive’ is perhaps an unlikely term, given that it is on a well-worn track and well sign-posted – more on this later)! To get to JC Slaughter Falls, you will need to set off from JC Slaughter Falls / Ithaca Creek picnic area, a lovely setting in its own right. This area is very popular with walkers – not sure if it is like this through the week, but it was reasonably busy with cars maneuvering and parking and walkers everywhere, so you need to take a bit of care when driving in. We found a park without too much trouble, but there were a number of cars parked in areas perhaps not designated for parking. This might suggest that there is a high turnover of cars coming and going so finding a park is perhaps a non-issue.
We had done a little research on the walk and we had a reasonable idea of what to expect – this was not going to be high intensity walking and we did not expect to be out for too long, so even with 3 little kids we could pack lightly. Water, sunscreen, hats, insect repellent and a few snacks for the little ones were all things that that we carried (as well as a nappy change for the baby, which kind of goes without saying). Sturdy shoes are probably best, although our boys just wore sandals. Water is a must as the humidity on a summer morning in Brisbane can make any walk a little challenging, as is insect repellent after a bit of rain.
So after applying some sunscreen and a quick little snack and a drink, we set off! You need to follow the ‘Summit Track’, a walking trail that will take you right up to the café / lookout area if you keep walking. There’s plenty of nice bush, a creek crossing and a small weir to check out before you get to the ‘Aboriginal Art Trail’ – this is the trail that you will need to take to get to the falls! The walk up to this point is generally flat – a few loose rocks here and there but nothing that posed any challenges. The creek crossing provides for some great photos! We would not class the walk as ‘pram friendly’.
Just past the creek crossing along the Summit Track there is a sign which indicates where the trail starts from. The trail is essentially a loop so signage on the trail was not really necessary, however back to the previous point, a sign advising that you had reached the JC Slaughter Falls may have been appropriate! The first time that we visited there was only a trickle of water at the falls, so it was hard to even picture the area as a waterfall! For most of the time this is all that the falls are - just trickle of water. It was however very picturesque and we were by no means disappointed, but we just had to see this in flow! There is a viewing platform and from here you can see some artwork on the rocks. We stopped for a few photos and then kept going.
From here the trail gets a little steeper, but again not too difficult. There are a number of pieces of artwork – paintings and rock placements dotted around – however these are not always completely evident so it could be a fun and challenging game for the kids to see if they can find them! We all made it around the trail without too much difficulty of sweat lost, overall it was a fun little outing with engaged the kids, gave all of us a little exercise and plenty of fresh air! We chatted to a few of the walkers so there was a bit of socialising as well!
We returned to JC Slaughter Falls the day after the huge rainfall event delivered by ex-Cyclone Debbie and we have to say that the falls are definitely impressive and worth to trouble to visit (of course only when safe to do so)! Heaps of water coming over the falls - a little dirty, but still makes for an impressive sight (and sound)! We're not sure how much rain is needed to get this flowing nor how long the flow lasts for - we were there less than 12 hours after the rain had stopped and it was certainly worthy of being called a waterfall! And the little trickle that we saw when we visited previously remains, just with a few more friends this time!
Amenities: There is a toilet block and picnic area (with tables and BBQs) at the start of the trail, but nothing along the trail itself 👍👍👍
Parking: Plenty of parking, although expect it to by a bit busy on the weekends 👍👍👍👍
Access: This is a bush trail, so not really pram friendly (which is to be expected). 👍👍👍
Entertainment: The artwork along the trail kept the kids engaged! 👍👍👍👍
Best for: Families with kids toddler and up 👍👍👍👍
Wildlife: We didn’t see any, but no doubt there are some animals in there! 👍👍
Overall, (and even though the ‘falls’ part of our outing was a little bit of a let-down) we would highly recommend a visit to JC Slaughter Falls and give it 4 out of 5 thumbs up! 👍👍👍👍
A visit after heavy rain 2018
A visit after ex-Cyclone Debbie 2017
Where is it: Obi Sth Lane, Maleny, Sunshine Coast Hinterland
Why we love it: A creek, waterfalls and swimming hole in the beautiful location of Maleny - whats not to love?
Tell me more: Gardner's Falls are a nice set of small cascading waterfalls and waterholes along the Obi Obi Creek at Maleny. Very easy to access - you park right on the edge of the creek - and situated really close to the picturesque village of Maleny, this is a really popular spot for a swim or just for a bit of sightseeing! Upon parking at the small carpark, it’s only a couple of minutes’ walk to the gently cascading falls. Above the falls there are lots of large, exposed rocks that you can wander over and explore – however take care as these can get quite slippery as well! The water falls into a large-ish waterhole which is great for swimming. It has a rocky base (which again, can be a little slippery) and at the downstream end of the waterhole it is reasonably shallow so the kids can play around in this area. Closer to the actual waterfall, the water is deep and you will see lots of people either jumping off the top of the falls (it’s only a couple of metres) or even swinging out of trees! It’s a lovely spot to visit – easy to get to (no hiking through kilometres of bushland) and the water is generally cool and clear! As it seems to be with a lot of popular, public areas, you will find a little bit of rubbish around although the locals do a great job of trying to stay on top of this! Well worth a visit!
Amenities: There's a long-drop toilet at the carpark area, but hold your breath! 👍👍
Parking: A small gravel carpark that fills up quickly! Some parking along the access road as well! 👍👍
Access: A gravel track leads to the waterfalls and waterhole, but once you get to the waterfalls area the track gets a little rough! Overall it's a very accessible waterhole! 👍👍👍👍
Best for: Everyone can enjoy this, however we think that kids 5 and over would have the most fun! 👍👍👍
Summary: A beautiful waterhole in a beautiful location! It's great for sightseeing or for swimming - however it's popularity is it's only downside as there is a bit of rubbish around and can get crowded at times! 👍👍👍
Hints: Plan to spend some time in the area - Maleny really is a beautiful location! And if heading up on a weekend, expect it to be busy!
After our first night camping at Benarkin State Forest, we awoke to drizzling rain - not really what we were hoping for! We weren't too phased by it though, we have found that our most memorable adventures are those with a little adversity! The rain did however provide us with a great excuse to hop in the car and explore - who really wants to sit around in a tent all day while it's raining outside? With three kids? Anyway, we were pretty keen to get out and have a look around the region in any case, so off we went! We had done a bit of research and Coomba Falls looked like the spot to visit!
From our location camping at Benarkin, it's about a one hour drive to get to Coomba Falls. From back home in Brisbane, it would take about 3 hours. It's situated right next to a small town called Maidenwell, it's about 2 kilometres away. This little town is tiny, but there are a couple of little stores where you should be able to grab a drink from and there are some public toilets should you need them - probably best to stop here when travelling with little kids as there are no facilities at the falls. Nanango or Kingaroy are probably the closest towns of significance around - respectively about 30 and 45 minutes’ drive, otherwise Toowoomba is about 1.5 hours away.
The drive to Coomba Falls doesn't really give away any indications of the beauty that you will see when you get there. It's a nice drive through typical rural settings, and it's a real surprise when you arrive. A short 2 km drive from Maidenwell and you will have arrived at Coomba Falls - there's no defined carparking area however there's enough room for a dozen cars or so to find a convenient spot. The first things that you will notice are the boulders and the grass-trees - the boys couldn't resist climbing all over the boulders and we couldn't resist snapping a few shots of the scenery!
You will need to carry everything that you will need with you before you head down to the water - there's an excellent-quality staircase leading all the way down, however there are a lot of stairs! You should note that it is not at all suitable for prams and the like and unless you really feel like some good exercise - don't forget anything!
There was no flow at Coomba Falls when we visited, but it didn't really detract from the beauty of this area! The waterhole was full and very inviting, however we didn't come prepared for a swim so we had to sit out and simply enjoy the view - there is a nice, flat grassed area which was a great place to sit down for a relaxing picnic lunch with the kids. After lunch, there were plenty of rocks to climb on and places to explore for the kids, but next time we visit we will be ready for a splash! The boulders at Coomba Falls were an attraction in themselves for the boys, they just couldn't help themselves and had to climb all over them! Great fun! The rock formations were really beautiful, too! There's a big cliff face which was being well used for abseiling on the day we visited, we would expect that it is well used for this type of activity!
We were really stunned by Coomba Falls - it was so nice! The rocks were magnificent and the waterhole was so tranquil - the whole area just seemed to be out of place with its surrounds, which we think is why we loved it! It was so peaceful as well - we're not sure how busy it gets here but given its relative isolation (compared to other spots closer to Brisbane), we can't imagine that it ever gets too crowded! Perhaps it may be a bit of an ask to drive here specifically from Brisbane, however if you are in the mood for something a little quieter, or if you are exploring the region, this one really is a must see!
Amenities: Nothing at the site itself so bring your own food and water, and don't forget to stop off at the toilets at Maidenwell! 👍
Cost: Completely free other than the travel costs! 👍👍👍👍
Parking: Limited parking but we think that there's enough! 👍👍👍
Access: Lots of stairs to get down to the waterhole! 👍👍
Entertainment: If you are here for a swim then you should have heaps of fun! Lots of boulders to climb on too! 👍👍👍
Best for: Keen photographers will love this place! And capable swimmers too! 👍👍👍👍
Wildlife: Great for spotting birds and butterflies and dragonflies, we imagine that you should be able to find some wallabies here as well! 👍👍👍
Summary: If you are in the area you really need to visit Coomba Falls, or it would make a great addition to your 'Explore South Burnett' day trip itinerary from Brisbane. 👍👍👍
Hints: Don’t exhaust yourself swimming - it's a long walk back up those stairs!
Do an internet search for 'Cedar Creek Brisbane' and you will find two different Cedar Creeks - one in the Samford Valley area north west of Brisbane, and the other to the south of Beenleigh, near Mt Tamborine (there may even be other Cedar Creeks out there that we haven't found yet!). From the search, both would seem equally inviting and interesting to explore and so it was essentially a coin-toss moment for us to decide which one we went to. For this expedition we decided to visit the southern Cedar Creek. We knew from the fact that this creek is at Tamborine - which we know is a beautiful spot - that we would be in for a treat!
About an hour's drive south of Brisbane and up some really nice, winding roads - just through the village of Tamborine - you will find Cedar Creek Falls, part of the Tamborine National Park. Along Tamborine Mountain Road you will need to turn off into Cedar Creek Falls Road to get to the falls area. There is a fully sealed access road and car park right next to the picnic area. We arrived reasonably early, around 8:30am and had no troubles finding a park, however the parking spaces are limited and it did fill up quite quickly. The parking area is close to residential properties so there are signs to advise to keep noise to a minimum. There is also a gate which restricts access after dark.
There are toilets at the car park area and as I am sure all parents understand, it is best to make use of these before heading off as there are no other toilets along the way. The car park leads directly into the picnic area which has lots of open grassed area, tables and chairs and barbeques. A path runs through the picnic area through to the track to the falls. Along the track to the falls there is a lookout with some impressive views and is a great vantage point for photos. You can get to the lookout with a pram without any trouble.
The falls themselves are at the end of a moderate walk further along the path and down some stairs (I think around 35 stairs in total?). The total walk time from the picnic area is about 15 minutes. The path is in good condition, however you should note that the stairs to get down to the falls pretty much rules prams out past the first lookout. We did see one family carry there pram down, but seriously, I really doubt that it is worth the trouble. As with any little trek away from your car with kids, you will need to be a little prepared. In this case, it is simply not convenient to race back to the car or the toilet. We packed as light as we could, which meant towels, water, sunscreen, nappy change, hats and some snacks. We also like to take insect repellent wherever we go just to be safe, although we didn't have any real trouble with insects on this visit.
Once you get down to the falls and waterholes, you will need to leave the path if you want to get your feet wet. The access is rocky and reasonably steep and definitely not for everyone - you really do need to take a bit of care in getting down, especially with kids. Once you are down at the water there is a good mix of shallow areas, deep waterholes and cascading water - you will need to keep a close eye on the little kids but there are some definite areas where they can get in the water and explore! Be aware that there can be restrictions on access to the water - check with National Parks prior to setting off on your adventure!
We visited on a warm day and this area’s popularity showed - the number of people coming down for a swim really picked up as the temperature increased, and who could blame them! The water is nice and cool and its a great spot to visit! On the downside, this really is a beautiful and scenic area, so it was a little disappointing that when we visited there was a bit of rubbish around the swimming holes - I really don't know why can't people take their rubbish away with them? The little kids didn't seem to notice, and it wasn't to the point that it felt unhygienic or unsafe (we didn't see any broken glass), but it was noticeable compared to other parks we have visited.
Amenities: Toilets and picnic area with tables at the car park area, nothing down at the falls 👍👍👍
Cost: No entrance fee so only transport costs and your picnic! 👍👍👍👍
Parking: As it is a very popular spot, parking could be challenging on a nice summer's day - you will need to get in early! 👍👍
Access: The access is good, the track well sealed and handrails along the way. You can take a pram to the lookout, but not down to the falls due to the stairs. 👍👍👍
Entertainment: The falls are really nice to look at, great waterholes and a nice grassy picnic area as well! 👍👍👍👍
Best for: A bit much for toddlers 👍👍, but for bigger kids 👍👍👍👍
Wildlife: Nothing much to report here, some kookaburras around the picnic area and some lizards on the track, but then again we weren’t looking too hard! 👍👍
Summary: This is a really picturesque area, however might be a bit of a challenge for some if your aim is to get into the water. Definitely worth a visit and certainly more attractive for older kids! With our little kids we give it 3 thumbs up 👍👍👍
Hints: Make the most of your visit by checking out some of Tamborine's other attractions!
Brisbane Family Explorers