Kondalilla Falls Waterfalls

Chasing Waterfalls: The Beauty of Falling Water as a Metaphor for Life

by Christina Cannes

Before we were born we had no feeling; we were one with the universe. This is called “mind-only,” or “essence of mind,” or “big mind.” After we are separated by birth from this oneness, as the water falling from the waterfall is separated by the wind and rocks, then we have feeling. You have difficulty because you have feeling. You attach to the feeling you have without knowing just how this kind of feeling is created. When you do not realize that you are one with the river, or one with the universe, you have fear. Whether it is separated into drops or not, water is water. Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact, we have no fear of death anymore, and we have no actual difficulty in our life.

-Shunryu Suzuki


Waterfalls as Wellsprings of the Soul

What is it about falling water that draws us to it—that makes us almost unknowingly, worship the sound, the feeling and the beauty of the scene? For as long as our species has existed—water—the element that sustains us, the element that fills our bodies and surrounds us in the womb—never ceases to lure us to it. A waterfall is not just a pretty picture or a refreshing swim—it is a joyful celebration of life. We are like the river, flowing through time without an ending or beginning, falling into the present constantly, only to take on some other form, whether it be vapour or ice or rain.

Here on the Sunshine Coast, waterfalls dot the hinterland offering up their shady, cool pools for the hot and bothered, leaving us refreshed and grateful to have these special places a short drive away. We are so fortunate to have such much beauty nearby—the waterfall as a sacred space, not only cools the skin, but replenishes the soul.

Driving from waterfall to waterfall leads one in a circuit. For this piece, we started in the northern part of the Coast at Yandina, travelled west to the Conondales—where we camped for a weekend—then travelled south into the Blackall Ranges and finally towards Buderim in the east. All the waterfalls mentioned in this article are open to the public. As always, please be safe and never enter flood waters.

Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time? That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.

-Herman Hesse

Wappa Falls

Wappa Falls, Yandina

Flowing from Wappa Dam, Wappa Falls offers a quiet, deep relief from the heat. Located 5km from Yandina, Wappa is a popular swimming spot with the locals and deep enough for jumping and swimming in the large pool (be safe, use caution, heed the signage). A parking lot near the swimming spot is accessed via Wappa Falls Road. Large black boulders and steep cliffs surround the swimming hole. Please be careful with children—the rock pools further upstream are a better option for the kiddies.

Booloumba Creek, Conondale Ranges

Nestled among the subtropical rainforest of the Conondale Ranges is Booloumba Creek, an idyllic camping spot situated along the banks of a clear, rock-lined stream perfect for swimming. The camping areas at Booloumba Creek are limited to owners of high clearance vehicles as there are several creek crossings along the main road. Each bend of the creek provides a new experience, from rope swings, to small rocks for jumping, even a tiny waterfall. It’s a fantastic spot for families as the creek is shallow and crystal clear. Gubbi Gubbi, Wakka Wakka, Jinibara and Kabi Kabi people lived in this area for thousands of years so it is a sacred site and should be treated as such—tread lightly, leave no trace.

For the adventurous, there is a steep 4WD track up Booloumba Creek Rd to Booloumba Falls. The track is graded, but precipitous and can be deeply rutted after significant rainfall. It was slow going up this track due to ruts and the winding nature of the track with its very steep drop offs on one side. About halfway up, there is a look out over the ranges which is worth a stop. To access the parking area for Booloumba Falls, it’s further down the track and a quick right turn. It’s about a 2km hike from the parking area to the falls, but well worth the exertion.

Booloumba Creek Waterfall

Booloumba Falls

Hidden amongst Bunya pines and eucalypt rain forest, Booloumba Falls offers cascading water, deep swimming holes, jumping rocks and total isolation. The waterfall is not only gorgeous, but has a very wide, deep swimming area full of clear water. We jumped from rocks on the steep side, into the deep pool and swam across to the shallow rocky side only to repeat the process over and over. There is also ‘the breadknife’ a rock formation where Booloumba and Peters Creek meet which is further down from the falls.

Artists Cascades

For the truly adventurous, Artists Cascades is an 11km (4 hours return) trek down part of the Conondale Great Walk at Booloumba Creek. A short side track leads to a 3.7 metre Strangler Cairn sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy, an internationally recognised artist. The sculpture, made from hundreds of blocks of hand-cut granite, includes a rain forest strangler fig sapling growing from the top. Over time, the fig’s roots will grow to ‘strangle’ the cairn. Note: We did not visit this waterfall yet!

Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.

-Terence McKenna

Mapleton Falls Walking Track

Point Glorious to Mapleton Falls, Blackall Ranges

From Kenilworth, follow the Eumundi-Kenilworth Road back east towards Eumundi. Turn right onto Buckby Road at Belli Park and follow the signs to Point Glourious, a stunning 360 degree look-out of the northern section of the Sunshine Coast all the way to Noosa Heads.

Tracking back, follow the graded road through the Blackall Ranges into the Mapleton Conservation Park to the township. Mapleton Falls parking lot is off Obi Obi Road, about 5km from town. While you won’t be able to swim in the waterfall, there is a loop track bush walk and an overlook of the massive waterfall. The rain forest is cool and quiet and the walk is an easy 1.3km circuit.

Kondalilla Falls Montville

Kondalilla Falls, Montville

Further down the Montville Mapleton Road towards Montville, turn off at Kondalilla Falls, a national park with a wonderful swimming hole and walking track. Here, the trees hums with cicadeas and the basalt soils, support a warm subtropical rainforest.

Kondalilla, an Aboriginal word meaning ‘rushing waters’, is just that— Skene Creek drops 90m into a rainforest valley. There is a lovely circuit walk to the very bottom of the valley (4.7km return). The main swimming hole is about halfway down the circuit trail and takes 10-15minutes (2km).

The Blackall Range is a site of deep spiritual significance for Aboriginal people. Home to bunya pines which produce large nut crops, when the nut crop peaked every three years, Gubbi Gubbi and neighbouring Wakka Wakka people hosted the Bonyee Festival. Aboriginal people travelled long distances from coastal and inland areas to share food, songs and dances. Baroon Pocket Dam nearby—before the area was flooded—was the main feast site.

Gardners Falls Maleny

Gardners Falls, Maleny

South towards Maleny, off Landsborough Maleny Road, the Obi Obi creek becomes Gardner’s Falls. The parking lot is located at the end of Obi Lane. It’s an 800-metre return walk to the falls, which is a very popular spot with locals especially on the weekends (warning: if it’s steamy, p-platers party all day here). There are rope swings and jumping spots around the deep pool. Further upstream, the rock pools are shallow and better suited for small children.

To trace the history of a river or a raindrop is also to trace the history of the soul, the history of the mind descending and arising in the body. In both, we constantly seek and stumble upon divinity, which like feeding the lake, and the spring becoming a waterfall, feeds, spills, falls, and feeds itself all over again.

-Gretel Ehrlich

Serenity Falls Buderim

Serenity Falls, Buderim

Finally, tracking east from Maleny through the scenic Glass House Mountains and Landsborough, follow the Bruce Highway north to Buderim Forest Park. Near the base of Buderim Mountain, this nature reserve offers a quiet reprieve from the busy streets of Buderim. The falls are accessed via a walking trail with two entry points: the lower entry is off Lindsay Road via Harry’s Lane and the second entry point is via Quorn Close, which runs off Lindsay Road at the top of Buderim. I prefer the lower Lindsay Road entry as it’s a nice walk through a forest and along the banks of the creek. The rock pool is shallow and a great place for small children to have a play and a splash.

Healing Waters

Unlike Lourdes and Avene-les-baines, our waterfalls are not considered remarkable or healing—but this lack of recognition does not detract from their magical ability to instantly sooth hot skin, anxious children or tired feet. Unlike the ocean, which strips away whatever you’re hanging onto and after a day of surf and sun leaves you happily exhausted, a swim in freshwater feels replenishing. In fact, there are no words to describe exactly how it feels to plunge into a murky pool—do yourself a favour and go chase some waterfalls!

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree

Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always–
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

-T.S. Eliot

Booloumba Creek Camping Area

Three main camping areas, area four is the only camping area for 4WDs and camper trailers or caravans. There are toilets, water (no drinking), fire rings and creek access. Book sites in advance through Queensland Parks here.

For two adults, two children, two nights with a 4WD + tent, total cost $47.60

Location: Booloumba Falls is 130km north of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast

About: Camping areas one and three are situated along the creek and for tent camping only. Area four is a large, open field and suitable for caravans, camper trailers and in our case, roof top tents. There is an amenities block with flush toilets and fire rings at each camping area. Sites must be booked in advance through Queensland Parks. The camping area is great for families as there is swimming in the creek nearby offering plenty of entertainment in itself!

Conondale Range + Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walks

The Conondale Range Great Walk is a 55k trek that starts and finishes at Booloumba Creek. It takes roughly 4 – 7 days to complete. For more information, visit the website.

Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk is a 58km, four day walk through the Blackall ranges. Subtropical rain forest, eucalypt forests and refreshing waterfalls take hikers through these ancient mountains. For more information, visit the website.

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