Crows Nest Falls
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! 👍👍👍👍
Killarney Glen, Beechmont
Where is it: Lot 2 Beechmont Rd, Beechmont QLD
Why we love it: It's a beautiful rocky creek and waterfall that has carved a heart shaped waterhole!
Tell me more: <NOTE: Generally open on weekends, access to the creek is currently off limits - the area is controlled by the Department of Defence who have removed public access indefinitely due to safety concerns.> This amazing creek and waterfall can be found just over an hour's drive south of Brisbane in the Gold Coast hinterland. You would be lucky to find this spot if you were not looking for it, there are no signs and only a small parking area off the road so it's very easy to miss (although on a warm day we're sure that you would see plenty of cars parked here!). And once you have found a carpark, it's a reasonably steep 15 minute walk down to the creek - it's not a simple walk, but we managed ok with our little kids so it's not overly challenging.
Don't be disappointed upon arrival at the creek - it looks like any regular creek - it's not until you cross over to the other side (you will need to get your feet wet) that you will see what makes this place so popular! Stand in the right spot and you will see that the clear, cascading water has created a large pool of water into the shape of a heart and it really does look magnificent! Some well-worn paths will lead you downstream from the heart where you can safely access the water and swim all the way back up to the heart (if you wish). With its rocky creek-bed and its crisp and clear water, Killarney Glen would be worth visiting in its own right, however add to it the lovely heart shaped waterhole, this really is a special place!
Amenities: Nothing here, you will be to be self-sufficient!
Parking: Quite limited so get in early to get a spot! 👍
Access: A little difficult but the walk down provides some nice scenery! 👍👍
Best for: Because of the access difficulties, this might be best for the older (over 5yo) kids! 👍👍👍
Summary: Access to this spot can be a little bit of an adventure, but if you have the opportunity to visit Killarney Glen, it really is worth it! Just the creek, surrounding scenery and clear waters would warrant a visit, however add to it the heart-shaped pool and it's a must see! 👍👍👍👍
Hints: It's hard to find formal information on the current opening status of Killarney Glen, so you might need to scour the internet and social media for up-to-date info!
Accessing the creek
On top of the bank
Inside the gorge
Downstream from the heart
Rocky Hole, Mt Mee
Where is it: Neurum Rd, Mount Mee (Moreton Bay Region) Why we love it: A beautiful waterhole which is somewhat quiet due to its relative isolation.
Tell me more: A couple of hour's drive north west of Brisbane, through some quaint villages and some magnificent forests you will find a really tranquil waterhole called Rocky Hole - hidden away in a dry bushland forest. As part of the northern (Mt Mee) section of D'Aguilar National Forest, this little waterhole is slightly out of the way but is a very worthwhile visit for those looking for a bushland escape!
When coming from Brisbane, the drive will take you past the ‘Gantry’ picnic / day use area. This is a large, shaded picnic area with toilets and water (but not suitable for drinking) which was established on the surrounds of an old timber mill. The Gantry building remains however there’s no exploring this old building as it has now been closed off. It’s a nice spot to stop at for a picnic or barbeque lunch on your way to or return from Rocky Hole. Continuing down the road (which is gravel and in some cases a bit rough) for about 8km and you will come to a small carpark which gets you to within a couple of hundred meters of the waterhole. It's an easy walk to the waterhole (although there are some stairs leading down to the water), however the drive out might be seen as a bit of an adventure! We did see a few smaller cars make the journey but in wet weather it might be a bit of a challenge for 2WD vehicles.
The waterhole itself has a small area of shallow water with a pebbly ground which is great for the little guys to have a splash, while the main waterhole is quite deep and definitely inviting for the older kids and adults! No amenities here so make sure you bring your own drinking water and get the kids to the toilet before heading off (or stop in at the Gantry picnic area as you drive past) ! The scenery is really beautiful and the rocky surrounds and bushland backdrop make for some excellent photo opportunities - you might even catch a pic of some local wildlife! Overall, this is a great little day trip out – it’s off the beaten track a little so you may feel a sense of achievement when you reach it, but it’s close enough to do without too much of a hassle and the scenery will make you feel miles away!
Amenities: No amenities at Rocky Hole, there is a toilet block at the Gantry picnic area (15 minutes’ drive away)!👍
Parking: A small off-street parking area, probably not enough in the warmer months but you should still be able to find a spot! 👍👍
Access: Easy to access from the carpark however the stairs leading down to the water will mean that prams are not really an option! 👍👍
Best for: Probably best for those 3 and over! 👍👍👍
Summary: A beautiful spot and a great swimming hole! The minor challenges of getting there will make the visit all the more worthwhile! 👍👍👍👍
Hints: There are a number of scenic lookouts and walking trails along the way so don't forget your hiking boots! And the Gantry day-use area is a great spot for a picnic!
Cedar Creek Falls, Gold Coast
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