Horseshoe Falls, Mt Field National Park – Tasmania, Australia

Be prepared for stairs.

I’m just going to go right out and say that. While Horseshoe Falls are just a short distance (10 minutes or so) from Russell Falls on the Mt Field National Park waterfall circuit, the hike to them requires a bit of resilience.

LADY BARRON FALLS, MT FIELD NATIONAL PARK – TASMANIA, AUSTRALIAHorseshoe Falls are the second stop on the waterfall circuit at Mt Field. You will have to pass either Lady Barron Falls or Russell Falls first in order to get to them, depending which way you start. Check out those blog posts to figure out which would suit you best.

Myself and my hostel friends Ben and Yiwii from The Pickled Frog Backpackers (review in the footnotes of O’Grady Falls blog post , if you prefer a hotel try Hotels.com for comparison prices) began from Russell Falls. They ventured ahead of me, climbing up the stony stairs that zig-zag through the unique Tasmanian forest.

I didn’t count how many stone stairs there were, but there was a bench about half-way up, so that’s an indication that there’s enough stairs to require a rest. Safe to say I was huffing and puffing like my life depended on it. Well, it probably did.

Luckily the climb is made easier by the beautiful views you have surrounding you.

And then we hit the wooden stairs, of which there were 105. One hundred. And five. So yeah, be prepared for that, is all I’m saying.

The climb is well worth it, though. I had hoped it would lead to the top of Russell Falls, and I was right.

We were able to look out at the view from the river that flowed down into the falls we’d just been admiring minutes before. So that was pretty cool.

The river looked surprisingly small for the incredible flow at Russell Falls, but it was pretty nonetheless. It trickled by us with that classic, soothing sound of gentle water.

We continued on to Horseshoe Falls. Since the tracks are within a National Park, they’re well signposted. We laughed at the ‘1 minute’ engraved on the sign below. Almost doesn’t seem worth putting it there, does it?

Because sure enough, 1 minute later, we reached Horseshoe Falls.

As you can see, these falls get their name from the shape formed by the two sides of water flowing down into the river below. They were extremely luscious and green when we visited, which we relished. They’re not always like this, so consider this your disclaimer warning!

I was again able to practice my photography skills, enjoying the mossy green rocks I had to play with.

I then forced my new friends into taking photos of me once again. Well, actually they quite enjoyed it to be fair. In fact they were encouraging, and captured some killer ‘behind the scenes’ shots for me. They were legends.


Photo by @buzzpuppet

Photo by @buzzpuppet

As you can see, I set up the camera angle and adjusted the settings, making sure everything was perfect. The only real credit I can give to my new-found friends was them directing me on where to stand and how to pose. So I guess I have them to thank for that. Love you, guys!

I enjoyed Horseshoe Falls, though I wish they were flowing a little more to make that horseshoe shape more distinct.

We then began our journey to Lady Barron Falls, the longest and hardest part of the hike (which is still easy). Lady Barron Falls are 50 minutes from Horseshoe Falls and an hour from Russell Falls, with a Tall Trees walk on the way.

Quick Facts

Last visit June 2017
Best TimeJuly-September 
Start / FinishMount Field Visitor Centre 
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance 1.2kms one way, circuit
Time 45 minutes one way, or 2hrs for circuit
DifficultyModerate, stairs involved
FacilitiesToilets & Cafe at visitor center
Lat & Long42.6763° S, 146.7116° E
NearbyRussell Falls and Lady Barron Falls (circuit)
Watercourse Russell Falls Creek

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Cora Lynn Cascades, Great Otway National Park, Lorne – Victoria, Australia

I woke up groggily.

A warm blanket was wrapped around me at Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park. I shifted my feet, my body stiff from a night’s sleep in an unfamiliar bed. A good sleep, though. Thankfully. My friend Morgan and I had a full day ahead of us.

We were headed to Cora Lynn Cascades, not too far from where we were the day before at Erskine falls. Google Maps told us it was only 8 minutes away, but when the automated voice said "you have arrived at your destination", we were travelling along Erskine Falls Road and there was no clear stopping bay, so it was definitely incorrect.

Road Map. Google Maps (2017).

If you just keep driving a tad further, you'll reach a small carpark off to the left named Blanket Leaf Carpark - this is where you need to begin.

I've marked it on the map below with a red circle. The end of the blue line is where the navigation will tell you to stop (probably because it's the closest point to the falls). But it is wrong! I know, what an idiot, right?

Road Map. Google Maps (2017).

Nah but to be fair, we arrived easily. The carpark is right next to the road and a small picnic area, so my advice would be to secure your valuables or take them with you.

Once that's all out of the way, it's pretty clear as to which direction you need to walk - a track begins near the picnic area (which also has some tables & toilet facilities - granted they're drop toilets, so not the nicest things on Earth, but hey, good to know all the same).

Once we began the track, we entered a world of green. Ferns and trees overtook the path with such beauty. It's funny to realise that even as a writer, sometimes I still manage to be lost for words. But seriously. Just look at this greenery!

Now while it did look stunning, there was a downside. Heavy rainfall overnight had soaked the track through.

In fact it wasn't much of a track at all, as much as it was a mud-bath-like consistency. And if that wasn't enough, the vast majority of the trek was down extremely steep slopes. Safe to say we had a very slippery, squelchy 2.1km descent.

It made things very interesting, and each step was a risk. BUT, I've mastered the art of this. Hear me out. The key is to distribute your weight evenly onto your foot, with each step being a very careful, precise choice. Trust me. Take your time. If you fail to do this, you’ll slide drastically in the squelchy mud and almost feel your heart leap out of your throat in the process. This may make the trip longer than the estimated 1.5 - 2 hour return, but it's better than covering yourself in mud.

Tip: step where there are thick leaves, or on the edges of the path to try and avoid slipping. Key word: try. You might still end up on your bum. I can't promise anything.

You will also probably want to wear proper hiking boots. Or, you could be fun like us and trek in cowboy boots or a pair of Nike free-runs. All I’m saying – it’s doable either way.

Although you’ll probably be ready to throw out the Nike’s once you’re done (especially if you go in the wet season, we were here around May and winter was well on it’s way).

Aside from the slippery, muddy slopes threatening to have us fall flat on our faces, the track wasn't too bad. It was well sign-posted so you always knew which way to turn.

The above image is referring to the track that leads to Phantom falls (a 7km circuit) and is very strenuous. Unfortunately we didn't have time to complete this as we had to get on the road back to Melbourne that day, but if you're interested you can find more information on a very helpful PDF here. It's actually one of the best documents I've seen on finding waterfalls. Yay for Great Otway National Park!

Anyway, like I said, it's well sign-posted. You can also deviate and take Lemonade Creek Track to Erskine falls if you're a keen hiker (which is roughly 4km one way).

We, however, were well on our way to Cora Lynn Cascades, so we continued through the squelchy mud.

Remember to watch out for fallen trees and debris. The weather conditions here can be unpredictable, so you've got to keep awake and alert at all times.

As well as the bright green areas, there was also dark gloomy moss when ducking under shrubs and delving over bridges. It really felt like we were in a different world.

Narnia? Maybe.

I loved how there was green in every shade – how the light dazzled when the sun came trickling through the trees. I think green is my favourite colour. I mean, how can it not be when it looks like this?

We then reached another ominous bridge - how far were we? There was no way to know.

There are two bridges along this trail, both crossing a small section of the Cora Lynn Creek.

We trekked out from the darkness and into more bright terrain, where there was plenty of wildlife to observe.

Spotted: A little birdy with a yellow breast perching on a skinny tree. He was in a rush to get somewhere, perhaps to find a young female birdy to play with. Let's hope he's not two-timing! Xo Xo, Gossip Girl.

Suddenly, we reached some steps which we thought must be a good sign, especially after such a long time spent on a thin muddy trail that had us wondering if we were EVER going to reach the falls.

But we were right, and finally the cascades peaked through the ferns.

However, sadly these cascades were not our end-destination. These appeared to be the beginning of the cascades, to which access is very limited.

This was the best shot I could get through the thick, wet greenery.

Unfortunately it was far too slippery and dangerous for us to get to these, but I have seen photographs of people at them so it must be possible on drier days.

I did give it a go, but it was way too slippery and I was worried I wouldn't make it back up the bank. So I didn't risk it.

If you continue further, walking along a mossy fallen log and down a skinny path, you'll reach the steps leading to the 'official' cascades.

Down, down, down we go. Gently down the steps. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, oh yes...it was...wet? That rhymes, doesn't it? Haha sorry for my awful jokes...Anyway...

TA DA!

We had found the cascades, which were the perfect setting for photos. The light levels were on point, and the falls themselves were flowing quite well.

I loved how the fern tree was growing right into the frame. They're literally all you see while walking along, so it's pretty cool to capture one with the falls in the same image. A true indication of the experience.

I really enjoy playing with my camera settings these days! 

As usual, just looking wasn't enough for me. I wanted to get on top of the bedrock, so I carefully crossed the stream (soaking an entire foot and sock in the process) and climbed up the side of the waterfall.

Climbing looks as though it would be easy, but I can assure you, the excessive amount of residue and muddy terrain was no aid to my plight.

But hey, I made it! Getting back down was the real challenge, searching for groves to lock my feet into and clinging onto vines along the edge of the bank in order to get back down wasn't the easiest thing I've done. But it was worth it.

I would highly recommend visiting the cascades, they were rewarding to finally reach. Though the walk back uphill was pretty difficult, so make sure you've saved up enough energy to make it back. Like I said, it's worth it. Though I'm not sure my Nike's would agree.

Quick Facts

Last visit May 2017
Best Time April-September
Start / Finish Blanket Leaf Carpark
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance 4.2km return
Time 2hrs return
Difficulty Moderate/Strenuous
Facilities Picnic tables, Toilets
Lat & Long 38.5208° S, 143.9248° E
NearbyErskine Falls, Straw Falls, Splitter Falls
Watercourse Cora Lynn Creek

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Image of Erskine Falls during a chasing waterfalls trip to Lorne in Victoria Australia

Erskine Falls, Great Otway National Park, Lorne – Victoria, Australia

Image of Erskine Falls during a chasing waterfalls trip to Lorne in Victoria Australia

I don't know how it happened.

To give you some context, I just looked at my bank account balance. Touch ID wouldn't let me into the Commbank app the first two tries, so that should've been the first sign. I knew I didn't want to know the balance, not really. But I persisted, cringing while I hovered my thumb over the home button. Success. Or, not so success. Depends which way you want to look at it. Either way, here I am, trying to work out how I've managed to end up with a mere $10.34 staring back at me. Yeah, it happens to the best of us.

Okay...I lied...I know how it happened. It all started when I went searching for a cheap car rental deal. My best friend Morgan has been visiting from Perth, so we decided to spend one of her weekends here road tripping to Lorne to find waterfalls. Well, I decided. And dragged her along with me.

It was actually easy booking a Suzuki Swift from Advance Car Rentalonline, and then accomodation in a bungalow at Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park2, both of which were cheap and problem-free (see footnotes for more information). And off we went. To hell with being able to afford rent and food, and having time to do uni work, right?

The drive from Melbourne to Lorne is just under 2 hours, and relatively easy. The majority is along main freeway roads which eventually turn into the infamous Great Ocean Road.

Great Ocean Road is a windy, 240 odd km scenic drive along the south-east coast of Australia. It stretches between Torquay to as far as Allansford and is Australian National heritage listed. With sharp edged cliff-faces on one side and bright turquoise ocean on the other, it's a unique journey. Though it's fairly easy to get distracted from the road if you're the designated driver - so pull over in the little stopping bays if you want to admire the view.

Once we reached the sea-side town of Lorne (which is also beautiful, by the way) we set off to find Erskine Falls. The falls are part of the Great Otway National Park, and approximately 15 or so minutes inland from Lorne (I mean, Google maps says 14, but they forget to add in the time spent driving with uncertainty wondering if you're in the right place). Refer to the map below as an indication of the simplicity of this drive if you're lost. As far as falls go, they are well signposted.

Road Map to Erskine Falls. Google Maps  (2017).

You'll eventually reach a very obvious turn off - where you have one of three choices. 1. Continue straight on Erskine Falls road 2. Veer right onto a gravel road, and 3. Turn right into Erskine Falls Access road. If it's not obvious, you want number 3. You'll be pleased to know there are no unsealed roads to get to these falls.

Road Map Erskine Falls Access Road. Google Maps (2017).

There is, however, a ridiculously steep slope. When you drive down (at which point I was praying that lil' Suzuki wouldn't conk out on me) and find a carpark with this sign, you know you're in the right place.

Like I said, these falls are well signposted as they are a well-known tourist attraction. The walking distance is also very minimal - but don't be fooled. The descent is quite hectic (and as always, you have to come back up - huffing and puffing. It's a killer).

We went to the Upper Falls lookout first - it's on the way to the Lower Falls - about 80m down the track. Trudging past ginormous, Australian trees. Trust me, you have to see these for yourself because photographs don't even do them justice. They're huge.

We reached a small platform, where there's a sneak peak of the falls through thick greenery. I was very excited at this point. You can't tell from the photograph, but we are quite high up. Erskine falls drop about 30 meters into a rocky gully surrounded by ferns and lush greenery.

I had a great time playing with my camera settings. I use a Nikon D5100 with an 18-55mm lens, and I captured my shots by changing the shutter-speed. I'm still learning - Year 12 photography was a long time ago - but it's all part of the fun for me.

Considering it was overcast and the lighting was dark at times, I think I did a relatively good job. I was happy with my shots taken with 1/60 shutter speed and below, though I had to rest the camera on logs and rocks to keep it steady to avoid blurring. I should really invest in a tripod to be honest, but don't forget, I'm a broke uni student.

After copious photos (I mean, you've got to get the perfect one) we began the descent. The stairs were slimy, steep and slippery, but aided by a metal railing. It didn't take long to reach the bottom, and when you're surrounded by such luscious trees, it's okay if you take a little longer to soak it all in.

Once at the bottom, a small bridge platform is situated with a clear view of the falls. Like I said, it's a well-known tourist attraction in the area, so it was no surprise that there were a few people around. Sometimes you just have to share the beauty of nature with other people, even if you wish you could have it all to yourself.

The view from the platform is great, but I'm always one for exploring that little bit further. Back towards the stairs and away from the bridge platform, there's a small section off to the left which leads onto the riverbank.

This is where there are Australian signs that make you want to turn around. Don't - you'll be fine if you take care and use your common sense.

The river flows through mossy rocks and makes for great photographs. We were visiting in May when there hadn't been much rainfall, so it wasn't too hard to manoeuvre over the rocks to the other side.

If you happen to visit when there's a heavier rush of water, or during winter months (June-August), then it may be harder, more dangerous or even impossible to cross.

I struggled to step on the rocks with my heavy backpack, and my camera bag slipping off my left shoulder. But we made it across and continued along a muddy, slippery terrain. Which we soon realised we weren't actually meant to be on. Oops.

I can't stress enough how beautiful this place is. As you can see, it's very green and mossy, much like a Balinese rainforest, only less dirty.

Finally after ducking under logs and almost slipping over multiple times, we made it closer to the falls. The slower shutter speed settings I was talking about before achieved the below shots, with the water frosted and smooth in contrast to the ferns and moss.

Patience is key when you're visiting popular tourist attractions. You have to wait your turn to get a shot free of other people, and make sure you allow other's the same in return.

I don't mind the wait though, because just staring at the falls is peaceful enough. We hid underneath fern trees during patches of rain, trying desperately to protect our electronics (maybe bring some waterproof gear, because we struggled in that department). But, hey, our phones and cameras survived and we got some amazing shots in the process.

So, yeah. I have $10.34 in my bank account after the car hire, accomodation, food, fuel and coffees. But it's payday next week, I have a roof over my head and there's frozen meals in the fridge. And I wouldn't change the experience for all the money in the world.

I also managed to revisit Erskine Falls in September 2017, and it was flowing much heavier after the winter months. See pics below!

Quick Facts

Last visit September 2017
Best Time April-November
Start / Finish Erskine Falls Rd Carpark
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance Upper lookout 80m one way Lower Falls 220m one way
Time 1hr return
Difficulty Moderate, steep stairs
Facilities None (closest toilets are at Blanket Leaf Picnic area
Lat & Long 38.5070° S, 143.9135° E
Nearby Straw Falls, Splitter Falls, Cora Lynn Cascades (Blanket Leaf Picnic area)
Watercourse Erskine River

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John Forrest National Park Falls, John Forrest National Park, Perth – Western Australia, Australia

Exploring Perth Hills will always bring satisfaction when it comes to waterfalls, and the National Park Falls up at John Forrest are no exception.

John Forrest National Park is Perth's oldest National Park, about 25-30 minutes out of Perth CBD. Plenty of information on how to get to the falls can be found here.

However, I have a secret short-cut. Travel along Great Eastern Highway Bypass, then exit left at Roe Highway and turn right onto Morrison Road. Follow this until you come across a round-about with a small car park to the left (this is called Pechey Road Carpark).

From here, you can walk towards the Swan View Tunnel (keeping to the right on the gravel path) and follow that towards the falls.

Road Map to John Forrest National Park. Google Maps (2016).
Map of Swan View Tunnel and National Park Falls (walking trails not shown). Google Maps (2016).

I visited the park on my own, strolling along the orange dusty gravel track, admiring the clear blue sky and the sunshine, the view of the million-shades-of-green landscape and whatever insect or bird that flitted by.

Keep to the right for the tunnel, the left to avoid.

I walked through the old railway tunnel, shining my torch on the old faded bricks, and wobbling over stones, trying to avoid muddy slush. Without the torch, you see nothing, but the bright, distant light ahead distorting how much farther you still have to travel.

 
The beginning of the tunnel...

Inside the tunnel looking back...

Looking how far until the exit of the tunnel...

Out of the tunnel, I then headed for the falls, where a small wooden bridge takes you over the very top rocks. To get to the bottom, you have to continue up to higher ground, and veer left onto the gravel walking trail. These trails are marked only with wooden stumps with an outline of an eagle bolted to them. It is slim and steep, so wear proper shoes and remember to be on the look out for snakes and sharp shrubs.
 
Once down at the bottom, there's the viewing platform smack-bang in the middle. I, however, prefer to generally "Bear Grylls" my way around the smooth, red rocks and gushing stream. It was a magical day for me - though probably a bit late in the year, as the falls were not as full as they would be in June-September (this visit was around November).
Photo above is taken from the very bottom of the waterfall.

As you can see, the falls weren't flowing extensively from the top during my visit, so I will definitely be returning in the winter months. Though the weather on the day I went was incredible, so I can't complain about that.

I managed to return to John Forest National Park Falls in October 2017, and while they were flowing a bit better (check out the photos below!), I still recommend a winter visit. 

Quick Facts

Last visit October 2017
Best Time July-October
Start / Finish Peachy Road Carpark
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance 2km return
Time 1hr
Difficulty Easy, take torch if going through tunnel
FacilitiesNone this way, Picnic area other side
Lat & Long unknown
Nearby Hovea Falls
Watercourse Jane Brook

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Huka Falls, Lake Taupo – North Island, New Zealand

In the beautiful North Island of New Zealand, Lake Taupo is drained by the monstrous Huka Falls of turquoise and crystal blues, gushing past at incredible speeds...

Notorious for it’s beautiful landscape (and if you forget about the Earthquakes), New Zealand is a must-visit home to some beautiful waterfalls.

If you’re headed to the North Island of NZ, you have to visit the incredible Huka falls (pronounced Hooka, unlike the legendary Hukka performed as New Zealand traditional dancing). Just thought I'd mention that one.

I got to experience the Huka falls while being thrown around on a jiggling Contiki bus (since the road to them is thin and windy). We were stopping at Lake Taupo for the night and swung by the falls on the way. But if you don’t have the luxury of being on tour – they aren’t too hard to find. Simply follow the signs; or refer to the maps below.

New Zealand North Island, Lake Taupo. Google Maps (2016).
Huka Falls, Lake Taupo New Zealand. Google Maps (2016).
Huka Falls Road Map. Google Maps (2016).

When we arrived at the falls, I stepped off the bus into a chilly, breezy air and could immediately hear the rush of water. The carpark is situated right next to the falls and the bridge in the above cover photo, so they’re not difficult to get to by any means.

I rushed eagerly towards the foot bridge and got my first glimpse of the Huka falls. The falls are so powerful, with gushing water rushing past ferociously below. Seemingly, the falls are not coherently dropping downwards, like most waterfalls do. At least the don’t seem to…. In an odd way, they seem to be kind of flat… But, of course, that’s not the case.

The stone bridge built across them makes it seem like a fast-moving river (we soon learned 220,000 litres-per-second), but if you venture to the second viewing platform, another 600m or so down the track, you can see where the falls drop down and become the Waikato River.

I stood, mesmerised by the bright turquoise colour of the falls. Plenty of waterfalls show white froth and clear water, revealing the rock behind them. But this, this was something else. The copious amount of water in these falls creates the most incredible blues. It is a great spot to stare and ponder your insignificant size and power in relation to parts of nature. I had to giggle at that.

You’d never be able to swim in these falls, unfortunately. However, you can go on 'speed boat rides' down parts of them and into the river that flows onwards - get in touch with Huka Falls Jet if you're keen! But for me, simply standing and gazing was more than enough.

Quick Facts

Last visit June 2016
Best Time Year-round
Start / Finish Huka Falls Carpark
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance 100m
Time 2mins
Difficulty Super Easy
Facilities Toilets
Lat & Long 38.6486° S, 176.0900° E
Nearby Lake Taupo, Lake Taupo Bungy
Watercourse Waikato River

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