Gerringong Falls (AKA Gerringong Waterfall) is possibly one of the best waterfalls in the Southern Highlands of NSW. However, accessing viewpoints for this waterfall via the Gerringong Falls Walking Track is tricky. There is no official trail that leads to a lookout during the Gerringong Falls Hike. Additionally, it’s even harder to access the bottom of the falls, which is extremely sketchy. This guide will shed light on how to find the most epic lookout without needing to do the dangerous walk to the base of the falls. Albeit, we’ll provide some guidance and safety details on reaching the bottom of the falls if your heart is set on doing that.
ACCESS TO THE BASE ISN’T PERMITTED: in late 2023, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) prohibited access to the base of Gerringong Falls due to safety concerns. Although this hasn’t been declared a permanent closure, if Belmore Falls is anything to go by, we suspect access to the base will be permanently closed at some point.
Despite its magnificence, Gerringong Falls isn’t as well known as other waterfalls in the Southern Highlands. Belmore Falls, Carrington Falls 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 visiting 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 Gerringong Falls. So with our help, we’ll guide you in exploring one of the most incredible waterfalls in the Southern Highlands.
Table of Contents
Gerringong Falls Location and Intro
The Gerringong Falls Walking Track in Buderoo National Park is what you’ll need to conquer to reach this gorgeous waterfall. Whether on foot or by bike (more on that here), you’ll reach a roughly 180 metre, two-tier waterfall in the stunning Southern Highlands. To help get your bearings, please find a Gerringong Falls map here.
Who doesn’t love chasing waterfalls anyway? Seeking out lesser known waterfalls such as Gerringong Falls is adventurous and fun. Certainly, you’ll be guaranteed a stunning lookout of the waterfall at the end of your hike or cycle. Of course, being keen hikers, we decided to walk the entire Gerringong Falls Walking Track, rather than cycle. So, we’ll detail the Gerringong Falls Hike from the trailhead all the way to reaching the epic lookout. We’ll then detail reaching the base of the falls if you’re keen on that too (although we didn’t personally go to the base).
Honestly speaking, 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 the Gerringong Falls Trail, back in 2020. It was a real thrill to explore a new waterfall, close to home, with my English wife, Beck.
Gerringong Falls Walk Map and Stats
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 18km
- Time: 4–6 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 250m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Buderoo Track (Plateau) Car Park
FYI – this GPS-guided Gerringong Falls Walk map shows the walk from the trailhead to the lookout; but, not to the base of the falls.
Gerringong Falls Walk to the Best Lookout: Highlights
Gerringong Falls Walking Track Overview
The Gerringong Falls Walk 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 the lookout, which is near the top of the falls.
The Gerringong Falls Walk starts on the Budderoo Track. As mentioned, it doubles as a cycling path, but for those who enjoy 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, Beck and I were speed hiking our way past dense bushland, that’s 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 known, you should enjoy large chunks of the hike to yourselves.
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 Walking Track doesn’t provide much cover from the rain or 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 Walk 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 that involves returning via the Hersey Fire Trail and then back along the Budderoo Track. Have a look at this map 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, 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 Walk, 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.
Before reaching Gerringong Creek, which is near the top of the falls, you’ll notice a defined path to your left. You’ll see this side trail after approx. 2.5km on the Hersey Fire Trail. Turn left and follow for around 100 metres to reach a vantage point.
Optional First Lookout
After all of your effort, whether on foot or by bike, this optional lookout will provide your first glimpse of the magnificent Upper Kangaroo Valley. But, you won’t be able to see Gerringong Falls from this lookout. Personally, Beck and I didn’t bother. But, from this lookout, you’ll enjoy lovely valley views and you’ll catch a glimpse of another smaller unnamed waterfall.
Anyway, either retrace your steps or continue past this optional side trail and lookout. From this side trail entrance, you’re around 300 metres away from Gerringong Creek. Continuing along the Hersey Fire Trail, you’ll know you’re approaching the creek 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.
Once you arrive at Gerringong Creek, do not cross it. 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 side trail, off the Gerringong Falls Walking Track, will lead you to the top of the falls and en route to the epic lookout.
Top of Gerringong Falls
This small bush bash side trail, which leaves the Gerringong Falls Walking Track, will lead you to the top of Gerringong Falls and then the lookout.
Finding the Best 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.
If you skipped the first lookout, 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.
All in all, finding the lookout involves bush bashing a narrow trail, a safe distance from, but close to the cliff’s edge. So, proceed with caution and at your own risk.
The Best Gerringong Falls Lookout
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 set up 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 rejoin the Hersey Fire Trail and begin your return hike; which, admittedly is a tad tedious to finish off. Unless you plan on hiking to the bottom of Gerringong Falls.
How to Get to the Bottom of Gerringong Falls
Also known as the Gerringong Falls Bottom Hike, the trail down to the Gerringong Falls Base is an additional option. Over the last few years, there’s been a lot of chat on social media 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. Of course, you could always ride a bike on the fire trails to give yourself ample time to reach the bottom of the falls.
There’s no official trail leading to the base. So it’s pretty hardcore off-trail hiking taking an hour or so, either way, assuming you don’t get lost. From near the top of the falls, scrambling and technical manoeuvres are involved. So we think that only experienced hikers and wilderness walkers should attempt this trail given its potential danger. Even experienced hikers have had much difficulty attempting this walk.
If you’re not keen or don’t have the experience, don’t worry, as you don’t need much hiking experience to reach the epic lookout for Gerringong Falls. Although, some off-trail hiking experience will help you feel confident in accessing the lookout at the end.
For those who are dead set keen on hiking to the bottom of the falls and have adequate experience, read on!
How to Find the Trailhead
Around 300 metres from Gerringong Creek, there’s a small yellow signpost. The signpost is located on the Hersey Fire Trail where the trail begins to narrow towards the creek. So, if you’ve already explored the lookout, you’d have passed the sign previously. Basically, around 150 metres south of the sign, you’ll find the trailhead for the bottom of the Gerringong Falls. If heading south on the Hersey Fire Trail, away from the creek, the trailhead and preceding faint path will be to your right. Let the bush bashing begin!
Route Details For the Gerringong Falls Secret Passage
From the trailhead, you’ll follow a barely defined trail, through dense bush for around 150 metres. This initial section isn’t too difficult. But, eventually, the bush thins and the trail disappears. From this point, navigating down to the bottom of the falls is very challenging. Essentially, there’s no defined path. You’ll require lots of patience with trial and error, similar to navigating the gorge floor at the Bungongia Slot Canyon. Indeed, there’s a reason they call the trail to the base of the falls – the Gerringong Falls Secret Passage.
In reality, it’s going to be near impossible to simply read a trail description and then be able to navigate the Gerringong Falls Secret Passage. Basically, we’ll highlight a few of the key areas or landmarks to watch out for to help you navigate to the bottom of the falls. But, as mentioned, it’s going to be a lot of trial and error!
Finding the Rock Chimney and Getting Down It
Once you’ve arrived at the end of the faintly defined trail, you’ll continue west until you find a rock chute. After passing through that landform, you’ll continue vaguely north to find the infamous Rock Chimney. Certainly, when people refer to the term, Gerringong Falls Secret Passage, they’re usually talking about the Rock Chimney.
The Rock Chimney is a rocky landform with a hole and rocky slab chute. Firstly, you’ll need to squeeze through the hole. Then, using foot holds on the rock, you’ll slowly climb down, facing the rock itself (like doing down a ladder). In the past, there has been a rope there to assist with navigating the Rock Chimney. Navigating this section of the descent is one of the hardest parts of going to the bottom of the falls. Indeed, it’s where many a hiker has got to and then given up thinking it was a bit too sketchy – turning around and retracing their steps back to the Hersey Fire Trail.
Bush Bashing a Steep Rocky Gully and Boulder Section
Once you’ve negotiated the Rock Chimney, you’ll descend a steep rocky gully. This next section will involve some scrambling. Eventually, you’ll arrive at a flat section of dense bush. More bush bashing is ahead of you. Typically, this is where many hikers get lost and confused. That’s because there are several markers such as ribbons, arrows and cairns leading in all different directions.
The best advice to avoid getting lost is to follow the cliff line, trying to stay within 20–30 metres of it at all times as you descend. This is similar to reaching Clover Falls on the Clover Trail in the Macquarie Pass National Park. Yes, there’ll be lots of trial and error. But, as long as you keep the cliff wall in view, you should continue to progress towards the base of Gerringong Falls.
Eventually, you’ll arrive at a boulder section next to a tall and wet rock wall. Be careful with your footing as you descend the boulder field.
The Final Stage: Reaching the Bottom of Gerringong Falls
After making your way down the boulder field, you’ll get your first glimpse of Gerringong Falls through the dense bush. At this point, the trick is to continue following the cliff wall down to the base of the falls. Don’t head straight towards the base as you’ll just end up at the creek, which is still far from the actual base of the falls. Many hikers make this mistake after catching glimpse of the falls and in a bid of desperation head straight towards them! Once you’ve followed the cliff wall, you’ll soon arrive at the bottom of Gerringong Falls.
If you’ve made it this far – congratulations! You’ll be rewarded with an epic waterfall and swimming hole. Of course, extreme care must be taken around the base of the falls as it’s obviously quite slippery. If you’re keen on a dip, expect some cold waters in the shade of the cliff walls!
Retracing Your Steps Back Up
Once you’ve enjoyed the base of Gerringong Falls, it’s time for the return journey. Sure, the climb back up will be a tad more physically demanding. But, after making your way down the tricky undefined trail; hopefully, you’ll have your bearings and can manage the return walk without getting lost as much! Similar to the descent to the base of the falls, it’ll take around one hour to return to the Hersey Fire Trail, AKA the Gerringong Falls Walking Track.
Gerringong Falls Walk 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! Truly, the Gerringong Falls is one of the best waterfalls in NSW, and, possibly one of the best we’ve seen in the world!
DJI Air 2S
How to Get to the Gerringong Falls Trailhead (Gerringong Falls Directions)
As mentioned, Gerringong Falls is located in the Southern Highlands area. For Sydneysiders, depending on where you live, you can expect a 1–3 hour drive to get there. If you’re travelling from Kiama, the distance from Kiama to the Gerringong Falls Walking Track trailhead is around 17.5km. Depending on road closures, the drive time can be around 30–75 minutes.
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.
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.
If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.
Things to Know Before You Go
If you’re thinking of exploring Gerringong Falls, there are a few useful things to know before you go. Below, we’ll go through the most essential things to know.
Cycling to Gerringong Falls
As mentioned, it’s possible to cycle both of the fire trails, which make up the Gerringong Falls Walking Track. By doing so, you’ll cycle roughly 8.5km from the trailhead to near Gerringong Creek. It’s recommended to lock up your bike at or near the yellow signpost mentioned previously. From there, you’ll walk another 300 metres or so to reach Gerringong Creek and then find the best lookout.
Of course, if you’re keen on hiking to the bottom of Gerringong Falls, cycling is a great idea as it’ll save you lots of time compared with walking the fire trails. After the struggle of hiking to and from the base of the falls, cycling 8.5km back to the trailhead sounds like a good option. Even if you’re only planning on visiting the epic lookout, cycling still isn’t a bad option if you think hiking the fire trails will be on the tedious side of things.
Personally, Beck and I enjoyed walking the entire Gerringong Falls Walking Track, including the fire trails without any cycling. But, then again, we didn’t make the tiresome journey to the bottom of the falls. Perhaps, if we did, we may have opted to cycle to save our energy for that endeavour!
The Difficulty of the Trail
After reading How to Get to the Bottom of the Falls, you’ve probably gotten a sense of the difficulty of this trail. As mentioned, the Gerringong Falls Walking Track involving just the two fire trails to the epic lookout is easy enough. But, the hike down to the base of the falls is very challenging. Without a defined trail, you’ll need to use trial and error to find your way. Certainly, this adventure to the base of the falls should be reserved for hikers with bushwalking and wilderness walking experience. To that end, this isn’t a family-friendly hike for kids!
Even if you have the experience and know-how, give yourself plenty of time if you decide to go to the bottom of Gerringong Falls. Without getting lost, it can take around one hour each way. But, it’s expected that you’ll get lost a few times as use trial and error to proceed. So, with that in mind, it could take up to two hours each way! Given the hike to the top of the falls is around two to three 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.
Without overly scaremongering, there does need to be a stern warning for those walking to the base of the falls. Unfortunately, in 2021, a Gerringong Falls accident did occur, where a child fell nearly 30 metres off a cliff. As a result, a large-scale Gerringong Falls rescue took place. Please, be honest with your hiking ability and don’t head to the base of the falls without having the necessary experience.
Creepy Crawlies and Brown Snakes
Like many bush walks in Australia, expect to see spiders and snakes along the way!
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about the Gerringong Falls Walking Track.
Where Are Gerringong Falls?
They’re located in the Budderoo National Park in the Southern Highlands of NSW.
How Tall is Gerringong Falls?
The two-tier waterfall is around 180 metres high.
How Long Is the Hike to Gerringong Falls?
If you’re just doing the return hike to the best lookout, near the top of the falls, the hike to Gerringong Falls is around 18km return (taking 4–6 hours).
How Long Does it Take to Get to the Bottom of Gerringong Falls?
By going to the base of the falls, you’re adding approx. 1.1km each way (approx. 1–2 hours each way). In total, the return hike to the best lookout and base of the falls totals around 20.2km, taking anywhere between 6 and 10 hours.
Can You Drive to Gerringong Falls?
Where Can I Rent a Bike?
If you don’t have a bike and want to cycle to Gerringong Falls, then you’ll need to rent one! There are plenty of bike rentals in nearby Wollongong.
Have There Been Any Gerringong Falls Deaths?
To my understanding, no there hasn’t. But, there have been serious injuries sustained from falling off the cliffs at Gerringong Falls. As this walk gets even more popular, sadly, some would argue it’s only a matter of time…
For accommodation options around Budderoo National Park, we recommend using Booking.com to find the best-valued accommodation.
What about Gerringong Falls camping options? There isn’t a campground at or along the Gerringong Falls Walking Track. But, you could camp at the nearby Carrington Falls Campground if you’re down for camping at a waterfall.
Getting to Sydney
Of course, you’ll need to fly to Sydney to do this trip from abroad.
Skyscanner is our go-to website for booking flights. If you’re looking to find the cheapest flights, we recommend getting the ball rolling with a Skyscanner search. It allows you to scan all airlines and platforms to find the cheapest airfares.
To find out more about booking the cheapest flights, read our Skyscanner review.
Hiking Gear Essentials For the Gerringong Falls Walk
Here are our hiking gear essentials for this walk.
Osprey Skarab 30
The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.
Osprey Ultralight Raincover
A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.
BUFF Original Ecostretch
The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.
To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.
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. In terms of navigation to the base of the falls, using a GPS-guided map will be near impossible given the trial and error nature of the walk. You’ll just need to use experience, patience and memory to get to and from the base of Gerringong Falls.
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. In addition, the trail to the base of Gerringong Falls is undefined. So, there is no trail of the walk to the base of the falls on Maps.me.
- Hike with others: The Gerringong Falls hike is pretty remote. So, make sure you hike with a buddy, even if you’re an experienced bushwalker.
- 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.
- 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.
Keen on exploring other waterfalls in the Southern Highlands? Read about the 23 Best Southern Highlands Waterfalls.
We acknowledge and respect the First Nations people as the Traditional Custodians of the land/water that we visited and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.