Gerringong Falls in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales is possibly the best waterfall of the entire area. However, accessing viewpoints for this waterfall is tricky. There is no official trail that leads to a lookout. With that said, there’s a lack of information online about how to access the best vantage point. So our guide aims to shed some light on how to do the Gerringong Falls Hike with the end goal of finding the most epic lookout.
Despite its magnificence, Gerringong Falls isn’t as well known as other waterfalls in the Southern Highlands. Belmore, Carrington and Fitzroy Falls are all much easier and safer to access because of their infrastructure. As a result, NSW National Parks and associated tourist boards promote these waterfalls. So they are far more visited and well known. That’s not to say, Gerringong Falls isn’t increasing in popularity. Being a much loved natural attraction for locals, the word is getting out about the awesomeness of this waterfall. So with our help, we’ll guide you in exploring one of the most incredible waterfalls of the Southern Highlands.
For more information on other beautiful waterfalls in the Southern Highlands, read our Top 10 Waterfalls in and around Sydney, 5 Best Macquarie Pass Waterfalls and Mittagong hiking and waterfalls guides.
Gerringong Falls Hiking Guide
Located in the gorgeous Budderoo National Park, is the roughly 180 metre, two-tier Gerringong Falls. Who doesn’t love chasing waterfalls anyway? Seeking out lesser known waterfalls such as Gerringong Falls is adventurous and fun. But it’s good to know that you’ll be guaranteed a stunning lookout of the waterfall at the end of your long speed hike. So we intend on specifically detailing how to access the best lookout on the Gerringong Falls Hike. Keep in mind, that this doesn’t involve hiking to the bottom of the waterfall.
STORY TIME: I thought I had explored all of the waterfalls that the Southern Highlands had on offer. After all, I had spent a lot of time hiking in the Southern Highlands being a Sydneysider. So I was surprised, but also elated, to hear about Gerringong Falls. It was a real thrill to explore a new waterfall, close to home, with Beck.
Gerringong Falls Hike Preview
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 18km
- Time: 4 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 250m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Buderoo Track (Plateau) Car Park
This trail has no official grading/difficulty score. Difficulty is rated by Travel Made Me Do It.
Gerringong Falls Hike Highlights
Gerringong Falls Hike
The Gerringong Falls Hike involves combining the Budderoo Track and Hersey Fire Trail. The Budderoo Track component is just shy of 6km. You then turn right onto the Hersey Fire Trail which is another 3km or so leading to the top of the falls. With a little extra exploration and bush bashing at the end, you’ll reach the best vantage point. However, it’s also possible to navigate to the base of the falls after reaching near, to the top of the falls.
What About Reaching the Bottom of Gerringong Falls?
A lot of recent chat on social media has been about getting to the base of the falls. Honestly speaking, Beck and I were keen on the idea. After all, the base of the waterfall is mindblowing. But with many other hikes and activities planned for the Southern Highlands, we didn’t have a whole day to dedicate to navigating to the bottom of Gerringong Falls.
There’s no official trail leading to the base. So it’s pretty hardcore off-trail hiking taking a few hours, either way, from the top of the falls, involving scrambling and technical manoeuvres. So we think that only experienced hikers and wilderness walkers should attempt this trail given its potential danger. Even experienced hikers have had difficulty. For instance, read Londoner in Sydney’s horror story at trying to reach the bottom of Gerringong Falls.
Otherwise, you don’t need a great deal of hiking experience to complete the Budderoo Track and Hersey Fire Trail on their own. Although, some off-trail hiking experience will help you feel confident in accessing the lookout at the end.
Finding the lookout involves bush bashing a narrow trail, a safe distance from, but close to the cliff’s edge. So if you decide to explore a little further on at the end of the trail to find the epic lookout, you should still have a decent level of hiking experience. Proceed with caution and at your own risk.
SIDE NOTE: Beck and I look forward to having a crack at reaching the base of Gerringong Falls one day. But for now, we’ll just have to settle on seeing the top of the waterfall and the awesome lookout.
The Gerringong Falls Hike starts on the Budderoo Track. It’s actually a cycling track, but for those who enjoy speed hiking, it’s a great trail to be walking. There are many wildflowers to enjoy in spring.
From the gate of the car park, the Budderoo Trail commences and very quickly, you’ll be speed hiking your way through dense bushland typical of the Southern Highlands. The terrain consists of loose rock and dirt but is mostly stable and even. It’s a wide trail and considering it’s not as well know, you should enjoy large chunks of the hike to yourselves.
WHAT IS THIS SPEED HIKING YOU SPEAK OF? Well, it’s nothing too new. It’s just hiking at a quicker than usual walking pace. But now it has an official name! Speed hiking is appropriate for the Budderoo Track and Hersey Fire Trail. But you’ll need to slow down at the end of the trail when looking for the viewpoint.
We visited on an overcast, wet and misty day. The rain made for cool-looking spider webs that caught the rain and remained as water beads on the cobweb. With that in mind, the Gerringong Falls Hike doesn’t provide much cover from the rain, nor protection from the sun. So not having to deal with the blistering heat was one benefit of visiting on an overcast day.
The Gerringong Falls Circuit Option
At about the 4km mark, there is an option to go right onto a fairly dishevelled and wild trail that also leads to the top of the falls. This could potentially create a small circuit which involves returning via the Hersey Fire Trail and then back along the Budderoo Track. Have a look at the Wikiloc below for a rough idea of what this would look like.
Admittedly, Beck and I generally prefer to choose alternate routes, if possible, on a given hike to keep it exciting and fresh. So usually, we would choose an alternate circular route like this one, instead of an out and back. This would avoid hiking the same trail and surrounds twice. But, apparently, this side-trail at 4km is very overgrown and indistinguishable at times. So with many cobwebs about, we decided to stick to the strictly out and back method of getting to the top of Gerringong Falls.
So for the simplest and most distinguishable route to the top of the falls, continue past this side-trail at the 4km mark.
Hersey Fire Trail
At around the 6km mark of the Gerringong Falls Hike, or just shy of it, you’ll reach the Hersey Fire Trail. Turn right to head straight towards the top of Gerringong Falls. Here, the terrain is similar, but the path narrows. There are not such an array of wildflowers either. But it won’t matter as your anticipation for reaching the waterfall grows.
After 3km or so, you’ll reach Gerringong Creek. You’ll know it’s approaching when you walk over some random logs placed almost equidistantly along the trail, away from the creek. At this stage, you still won’t be able to see Gerringong Falls.
Do not cross the creek. Instead, look to your left. If the creek is not overflowing, walk along the side of the creek bed for about 10 or so metres. You should then see a small trail to the side of the creek bed, heading into the surrounding dense bushland.
This is the small bush bash side-trail that’ll lead you to the top of Gerringong Falls and then the lookout.
Finding the Gerringong Falls Lookout
This small side-trail continues to follow the creek, running adjacent to it. But the surrounding bushland is so thick that you’ll briefly lose sight of the creek. Soon enough though, you’ll reach a small opening to your right, which overlooks the top of the Gerringong Falls.
It’s the first time you’ll have sweeping valley views and surrounding sandstone cliffs to admire. But don’t stop just yet. Return to the trail and you’ll find that the side-trail continues away from the creek.
The trail is equally overgrown so expect many a twig to the face. Despite being a bush bash, there is a somewhat faint trail, suggesting you won’t be the first people to have hiked this way.
You’ll continue to hike away from the creek and adjacent to the cliff’s edge so make sure to stay on track. The trail then begins to veer right, as you follow the curving of the cliff’s edge. This eventually steers you to an opening, where you’ll see a rocky platform and outcrop to your right. This is where the epic lookout is located.
This remains an unofficial lookout so there are obviously no safety fences. Please be extremely careful when approaching the natural rock platform. Regardless, it provides absolutely stellar views of Gerringong Falls. But if you’re not one for heights, you may want to sit this one out.
This somewhat hidden lookout provides the best seat in the house to enjoy Gerringong Falls. The bush bash side-trail takes you directly opposite the waterfall. Nature couldn’t have setup a better vantage point!
Supplied by Gerringong Creek, it’s an awe-inspiring waterfall. It’s not as powerful and voluminous as some of the other well known waterfalls in the Southern Highlands. But it’s estimated to be taller than the others. So the drop is narrower and slender, but impressive and spectacular in its own right.
Like many waterfalls in Australia, it’s best to see them after some decent rainfall. So to get the most out of the Gerringong Falls Hike and the epic lookout, avoid visiting during drought.
Once you have enjoyed the best Gerringong Falls lookout, retrace your steps back to the creek bed. From here, you’ll re-join the Hersey Fire Trail and begin your return hike. Admittedly, the return hike is a tad tedious to finish off. But, it’s absolutely worth it for the incredible views of this underrated waterfall.
Gerringong Falls Hike Recap
There’s no doubt that hiking to the base of Gerringong Falls would be an unreal experience! But there are many reasons why this may not be possible for you. So if you still want to see and enjoy Gerringong Falls from the best lookout available, follow our Gerringong Falls Hike guide and you’ll do just that!
Getting to Sydney
Flights: Of course, you’ll need to fly to Sydney to do this trip from abroad. If you’re travelling to Sydney from overseas, use Skyscanner to search for the cheapest flights. When flying abroad, we always get the ball rolling with a Skyscanner search.
Also, if you’re based in the UK or US, you should sign up to Jack’s Flight Club for the best flight deal alert service. By simply subscribing to the free weekly newsletter or buying premium membership, you could save lots of money on international travel. If you’re interstate, subscribe to I Want That Flight for the best flight deal alerts to and from Melbourne. You can usually find cheap flights with Jetstar or Tiger Airways.
Getting to/from the Gerringong Falls Hike
As mentioned, Gerringong Falls is located in the Southern Highlands area. For Sydneysiders, depending on where you’re living, you can expect a 1-3 hour journey.
To explore Budderoo National Park and the Southern Highlands in general, you’ll need a car. There are no real public transport options for accessing the Budderoo Track trailhead. If you need a car, use RentalCars.com. It’s a fantastic search engine for finding the cheapest car hire. It’s what we use to hire cars in Australia.
Regarding parking, follow directions to Budderoo Plateau Road. It’s an unsealed and bumpy road, that leads you to a small car park after 400 metres or so. Our 2WD survived but you’ll have to drive carefully. There’s probably enough space for a dozen cars or so in designated spots. Otherwise, we imagine cars would eventually line the road leading to the car park.
For accommodation options around Budderoo National Park National Park, please refer to our Southern Highlands Guide. We camped in Moss Vale and can recommend that. But if you’re not into camping, unfortunately, other accommodation options in the Southern Highlands aren’t cheap. We always compare Booking.com and Airbnb when looking for the best-valued accommodation.
If you’re exploring Gerringong Falls and Budderoo National Park, bring a packed lunch plus plenty of water and snacks. It’s a fairly long and exposed track, so be prepared, particularly in summer. Our go-to grocery stores when travelling in Australia are Aldi and Woolworths.
- Petrol: $15AUD/person ($12USD)
- Food: $5AUD/person ($4USD)
= $20AUD/person ($16USD)
If you can day trip from Sydney like we did, there won’t be any accommodation costs.
Five Hiking Gear Essentials for the Gerringong Falls Hike
For a more comprehensive packing list, please check out the Ultimate Packing Checklist. It’s a great general summary of everything you’d need for a trip. For even more information check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With.
- Merrell Moab 2 Mid Goretex hiking boots – these boots suited the terrain of the Gerringong Falls hike well.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack – this backpack is just right for speed hiking wherever, whenever.
- Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Trousers – a light pair of trousers, great for bushwalking in the heat. They’re also water repellant just in case the weather changes for the worse.
- Patagonia Torentshell 3L Jacket – a fantastic waterproof jacket – works well as your outer layer in wet conditions, as we experienced on the Gerringong Falls Hike.
- The North Face TKA Glacier snap fleece jacket – in winter, it can get pretty cold around the Southern Highlands so make sure to pack a warm jacket!
The Budderoo Track and Hersey Fire Trail are straightforward trails to follow. But the bush bash near the top of the waterfall can get a bit confusing. Use our Wikiloc for GPS guided directions if you want a bit of help finding the amazing lookout.
For those not so prepared, if you’re needing navigation help during the hike and don’t have any phone reception, consider using Maps.me. Although you need to have at least downloaded the map of the general area beforehand.
- Give yourself plenty of time if you decide to go to the bottom of Gerringong Falls: we’ve heard that from the top of the waterfall to the base can take two-three hours, each way. Given the hike to the top of the falls is around two hours each way, you could be looking at ten hours of hiking. Start early and expect a late finish. Be mindful that in winter, you might run out of daylight.
- Hike with others: The Gerringong Falls Hike is pretty remote. So make sure you hike with a buddy.
- Check BOM forecast: We were concerned that the mist would impede our views of Gerringong Falls. It is possible that on a misty and foggy day, typical of the Southern Highlands, that this may occur. So make sure to check the weather before you head out. The last thing you want is to do the long hike and then miss out on the views at the end.
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