It’s a lovely morning in May and there’s a slight nip in the air as we pull up beside two cars parked in the Kondalilla Falls Road car park. Although we have explored the Sunshine Coast Hinterland many times, this is our first visit to Kondalilla Falls.
Fortunately, we’ve picked a good day for a bushwalk. The sun is shining and the forest looks mysterious and alluring.
Kondalilla National Park is a popular spot on the Sunshine Coast for birdwatching and bushwalking.
It’s also a lovely place to escape to and be surrounded by trees.
The forest has a calming influence and the scent of the trees will lull you into a sense of serenity. You could spend hours hiking and breathing fresh air.
The national park is a mixture of Eucalypt and wet sclerophyll forest.
It’s home to five rare frog species and the Bopple nut (Macadamia ternifolia). The Bopple nut is a rare species of macadamia named after Bauple Mountain, which once had the largest natural forest of Bopple nuts in the country.
Named after Scotsman John Macadam, the macadamia is the only Australian native plant to be commercialised.
Macadam was the Post Master General and President of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria in 1857.
These days, macadamias grow around the world.
Picnic Creek Circuit
Past the green picnic lawns, we follow the path into the forest. There are two options on this walk.
The Picnic Creek circuit is an easy 1.7km forest walk. The Kondalilla Falls circuit is a 4.7km hike that is a bit more challenging.
The Picnic Creek route takes about one hour to complete, depending on your level of fitness. The Kondalilla Falls route is about two to three hours of walking.
We follow the path through the Eucalypt forest and to the Rockpools at Picnic Creek.
Vines wrap around tall tree trunks reaching up towards the sky. I feel invigorated as I gaze at the patchwork of Eucalypts, palms, ferns and shrubs.
Golden rays stream through the canopy and there’s a light rustling of leaves. Birds flutter and chirp among the trees.
Birds flutter and chirp among the trees.
The forest has rock pools, green moss-covered stones and freshwater creeks.
I fill my lungs with fresh air and stop to listen to the sounds of the forest.
I think I hear the quiet eh-eh-eh-eh of the rare pouched frog (Assa Darlington). Is it hiding under a log or one of those rocks?
It’s around 9.30 am in the morning on a Wednesday and there are few other people on the track at Kondalilla Falls. So, it’s a luxury to have the forest pretty much to ourselves.
On the first part of the walk, we pass a mother and two teenagers.
At the Rockpools, three children sit on a rock chattering excitedly.
A couple is already swimming in a quiet corner of the natural pool.
We hang around the rock pool, drawing energy from the forest and the water.
Kondalilla Falls Circuit
Then we take the staircase down to the lookout to catch a glimpse of Kondalilla Falls, named after the Aboriginal word that means rushing waters.
Kondalilla National Park was named after Kondalilla Falls, where Skene Creek drops 90m to the rainforest valley.
It’s the dry season and the waterfall doesn’t do any justice whatsoever to its name. It’s May and the waterfall is a thin trickle down the grey-brown escarpment.
I’d like to see it again in the summer during the wet season. However, if you’ve ever been to Victoria Falls, Niagara Falls and Iguazu Falls, you may not be that impressed with Kondalilla Falls.
The Kondalilla Falls circuit continues to the base of the waterfall and back up the ridge, past bunya pines and piccabeen palms and pink ash (Alphitonia petriei).
The most challenging part of the Kondalilla Falls circuit is the hike back up. There are over 100 stairs so you need to be reasonably fit. But if you take it slowly and make sure you start early in the morning, this route is doable for anyone with average fitness.
The main thing is to make sure you have plenty of time to get to through the hike before the light fades.
Whether the waterfall is impressive or not, it’s a lovely forest hike and one I’ll be doing again.
Christina Pfeiffer lives on the Sunshine Coast and explored Kondalilla National Park at her own expense.
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Getting to Kondalilla Falls
If you’re using a GPS programme either Kondalilla Falls Road, Montville, Narrows Road, Montville or Flaxton Mill Road, Montville as the destination.
Montville is about 30 minutes by car from Maroochydore (the closest main centre) on the Sunshine Coast.
For more information see Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk.
What to pack
Bring a small backpack with as much water as you can comfortably carry (at least two litres per person), energy bars and rain gear.
Swimmers and a quick-dry towel would come in handy at the Rockpool.
There are plenty of scenic spots so don’t forget your camera.
Kondalilla National Park is a lovely bushwalking escape. The park has over 107 species of birds, 70 species of reptiles and 32 species of frogs.
It’s also a great spot for a picnic. There’s a large grassed area with picnic tables, barbeques and toilets.
Where to stay
Camping: You can camp at the Flaxton walkers’ camp, which is a bush camp on the 58km Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk.
There are camping areas at Conondale National Park, Imbil State Forest and Mapleton National Park with vehicle access.
Other accommodation: There’s a large range of accommodation in Montville, Mapleton, Maleny in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
What else to do
There are several national parks and walking trails in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, including a walk where you can search for the Mary River lungfish.
Other things to do in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland are shopping in Montville and the art trail through Montville and Maleny is worth exploring.
Montville is a charming town filled with unique craft shops, galleries and cafes.
If you’re a keen bushwalker you’ll probably want to hike all day. But if you’re a beginner, you might want to try the shorter Kondalilla Falls walk then head to Montville for a spot of lunch.
The coastal and country views from Montville are well worth checking out. The Edge Restaurant in Montville has the best view.