Kellys Falls is a mesmerising waterfall located in the Garawarra State Conservation Area between Sydney and Wollongong. For years, people have been struggling to get to the bottom of the falls. After all, there is no official, maintained or marked trail to the bottom of the waterfall. But, admittedly, getting to the bottom of Kellys Falls is an amazing experience and helps you truly appreciate the magnificence of the waterfall.
Better yet, there is actually another waterfall located around the corner from the bottom of Kellys Falls. This hidden waterfall is called Juliet Falls and is just as magical as Kellys Falls.
In this guide, not only will we show you how to get to the bottom of Kellys Falls, but we’ll also show you how to get to the bottom of the lesser-known but equally impressive Juliet Falls.
Read about the nearby Maddens Falls and Minerva Pool (guides coming soon)
Table of Contents
The Ultimate Guide to Kellys Falls and Juliet Falls
Kellys Falls is easily one of the most spectacular waterfalls near Sydney. Found along Kellys Creek, the waterfall spills over two cascades, measuring around 43 metres in total.
The upper cascades are shorter in stature at around eight metres high. While, the lower section, which is the main waterfall, majestically cascades 35 metres over the rock face and crashes into a hidden swimming hole. It’s not very well known that the waterfall is also known as Romeo Falls. This makes a lot more sense when you realise that there is another waterfall around the corner from Kellys Falls called Juliet Falls. Thank you Shakespeare for the inspiration!
All in all, Kellys Falls has become a fairly well-known waterfall to outdoor enthusiasts based in Sydney and Wollongong. The majority that visit will simply do the Kellys Falls Track, which doesn’t go to the bottom of the falls. A smaller percentage of people will actually try their hand at making their way to the bottom of the falls. For those who actually find the path and get to the bottom, only a tiny fraction of those people will continue along Kellys Creek to find Juliet Falls.
In this guide, we’re going to do our best to explain the easiest way to get to the bottom of Kellys Falls. We’ll then go that step further and tell you how to get to the bottom of Juliet Falls, which isn’t very far from the bottom of Kellys Falls. Indeed, Kellys Falls isn’t the only star attraction of this waterfall chasing adventure!
Where Is Kellys Falls?
Kellys Falls is located in the Garawarra State Conservation Area in Helensburgh, New South Wales. The waterfall is found south of the Royal National Park and north of Wollongong. To help get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the area on Google Maps.
How to Get to the Bottom of Kellys Falls
Simply put, getting to the bottom of Kellys Falls isn’t straightforward. As mentioned, there is no official or marked trail that goes to the bottom of the falls. So, this walk isn’t for beginner or inexperienced hikers. If this sounds like you, don’t worry, you can still visit the area and do the Kellys Falls Track. That way, you visit the top of the falls as well as enjoy some (obstructed) views of the main waterfall.
If you’re an experienced bushwalker or can visit with an experienced bushwalker, then you should be more than capable of reaching the bottom of the falls – as long as you do a little research before you go.
From personal experience, I’ve found it extremely difficult, near impossible, to follow GPS-guided directions to get to the bottom of the falls. The tiniest inaccuracy on a GPS-guided map, which is very likely to occur even with the latest and greatest gadgets, may send you off course or in the wrong direction. For this reason, we’re not going to provide any GPS-guided maps or directions.
Personally, we think it’s best to have a general idea of the area before you visit so you know what to look out for. Of course, take a map in case you need it as a backup option for trail navigation. But, don’t solely rely upon it without knowing the route before you go!
Essentially, there are two main trails to access the bottom of the falls.
- Option 1: the shorter, steeper, more technical and harder trail
- Option 2: the longer, gently declining, less technical and easier trail
We highly recommend Option 2 as it’s the safest and easiest route to get to the bottom of the falls. Below, we’ll detail both of these options, focussing on Option 2.
Kellys Falls Walk (Option 2) Details
Here are the approx. trail specs for the walk to the bottom of Kellys Falls and Juliet Falls using Option 2.
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 1.2km
- Time: 1 hour
- Accumulated elevation gain: 50m
- Difficulty: Very hard
- Trailhead: Kellys Falls Picnic Area
Kellys Falls Picnic Area
Regardless of which trail you use to get down to the bottom of Kellys Falls, your walk starts at the Kellys Falls Picnic Area. You’ll then need to find the trailhead for the Princess Marina Track. It’s located to the right of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services information board.
Princess Marina Track
Immediately, along the Princess Marina Track, you’ll descend some wooden steps. After you descend the steps and pass the black railing to your left, you’ll find an opening to your left, after around 100 metres. This is the entrance for the shorter but harder trail (Option 1).
Option 1: The Shorter But Harder Trail
We don’t actually recommend using the shorter but harder trail. That’s because you’ll need to use ropes to descend steep terrain. Indeed, this route down is fairly technical and is easily avoidable if you use the longer but easier trail (Option 2) instead.
So, with this in mind, ignore this opening after 100 metres and continue to walk along the Princess Marina Track. After another 100 metres, you’ll arrive at a second opening. This is the start of the slightly longer but easier trail (Option 2).
Option 2: The Longer But Easier Trail
More recently, we’ve read that Option 2 is marked by blue ribbons. From experience, ribbons come and go, so we don’t recommend purely relying on them. Sure, if they’re present and showing the way, then use them to your advantage. But, if they’re missing, don’t worry, you’ll still be able to find your way with some patience and common sense.
Essentially, near the turnoff for Option 2, you’ll find a small rock ledge. This is an important landform to remember. Once you find this and safely guide yourself down the ledge, you’ll find the more obvious trail that leads down to the bottom of Kellys Falls.
The Easier Trail to the Bottom of Kellys Falls
Once you’ve passed the small rock ledge, the trail is fairly direct to the bottom of the falls. You’ll find the trail is mostly gradually descending, but there are still some steep sections to navigate. Especially after rain, the trail can get very slippery. So, take your time as you descend the trail to the bottom of the falls. Soon enough, you’ll start to hear the thunder of cascading water as you near Kellys Creek. The trail flattens as you arrive at the base of Kellys Falls.
The Bottom of Kellys Falls
Reaching the bottom of Kellys falls is an amazing experience and quite an accomplishment given the track isn’t so straightforward. From the base of the waterfall, you can truly appreciate its brilliance as it plummets down the cliff face. You can simply admire the falls from the rocks around the base of the falls. Or, of course, you can go for a swim in this natural swimming pool!
Swimming at Kellys Falls
The Kellys Falls swimming hole is one of the most popular wild swimming spots near Sydney. Because the swimming hole is fairly deep, you can actually enjoy a decent swim. The easiest way to access the natural pool is to walk around the edge to find some shallower flat rocks. From there, you can simply lower yourself in. Bear in mind, that the bottom of the falls doesn’t see much sun. So, expect the water to be very cold, even in summer!
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The Bottom of Juliet Falls
For most people, once they’ve found the bottom of Kellys Falls and gone for a dip, they’ll simply retrace their steps back to the Princess Marina Track. But, we highly recommend that you chase one more waterfall. After all, Juliet Falls is just around the corner and isn’t that difficult to get to, especially if you’ve already made it this far!
To get to the bottom of Juliet Falls, you’ll essentially just need to follow Kellys Creek downstream. There is a faint trail alongside the creek, so you won’t have to wade or anything like that. From Kellys Falls, literally, around the bend of the cliff wall, you’ll find the equally immense Juliet Falls. The waterfall tumbles down the cliff face at a similar height and ferocity to Kellys Falls. So, expect Juliet Falls to be just as incredible!
Admittedly, the base of Juliet Falls isn’t as large or deep as the base of Kelly Falls. So, you’ll more likely be paddling than swimming at the bottom of Juliet Falls.
Once you’ve scoped out Juliet Falls, you’ll retrace your steps back to the bottom of Kellys Falls. From there, you’ll simply retrace your steps back to the Princess Marina Track.
Other Kellys Falls Walks
After making it down and back up from both Kellys and Juliet Falls, there is an option to do other walks in the area. If you want to do some more bushwalking, without seeing any more of Kellys Falls, you could simply explore more of the Princess Marina Track. The track heads through the bush and actually takes you all the way to Lawrence Hargrave Drive.
Admittedly, the most popular walk in the area is the Kelly Falls Track.
Kellys Falls Track Details
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 1.4km
- Time: 30 minutes
- Accumulated elevation gain: 25m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Kellys Falls Picnic Area
Seeing the Top of Kellys Falls
As mentioned, the Kellys Falls Track doesn’t lead you to the base of the falls. Rather, you’ll walk along the top of the cliff’s edge, passing near the top of the upper cascades of Kellys Falls. You’ll also cross some waterways and enjoy some viewpoints of the larger lower part of Kellys Falls and Juliet Falls.
Honestly speaking, the lookouts of the waterfalls along the Kellys Falls Track are fairly underwhelming. That’s because your views of the waterfalls are considerably obstructed by the bushland.
Despite the obstructed view of the waterfalls, we recommend doing the walk while you’re there. That way, you can explore more of the area and, at least, you’ll enjoy scenic views of Otford Valley.
What to Expect During a Visit to Kellys Falls
Your experience at Kellys Falls will very much depend on which walk or walks you choose to do. For a relaxed and easy-going experience, simply do the Kellys Falls Track and the Princess Marina Track. This is also a suitable option for beginner walkers. On the other hand, if you’re an adrenaline junkie or experienced bushwalker, and want a challenge, you’ll choose the walk to the bottom of the falls.
Of course, if you have swimming in mind, you’ll have no choice but to find your way to the bottom of the falls!
Things to Know Before You Visit
Now that you know all about getting to the bottom of Kellys Falls and Juliet Falls, let’s look at some essential information to help plan your visit.
Getting to Kellys Falls (Directions and Parking)
The only way to get to Kellys Falls is to drive there as there is no public transport access. If you don’t have a car, we recommend hiring one for the day.
In terms of directions, simply head to the picnic area via Kellys Falls Access Road. Regarding Kellys Falls parking, you’ll find a large car park at the end of the access road. Parking is free.
The access road isn’t sealed but is accessible for all vehicles, including low-clearance 2WDs. Although the unsealed road is short and in fairly good nick most of the time, just keep an eye out for potholes, if you’re driving a 2WD.
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.
Where to Stay Near Kellys Falls
Unfortunately, there are no Kellys Falls camping options as camping in the area is prohibited.
What to Pack and Wear
Here are our hiking gear essentials for this adventure!
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.
Nearby Waterfalls and Walks Guides
There are many other awesome waterfalls and walks to experience around Wollongong and Sydney. Below, you’ll find some of the best natural attractions to visit nearby.
- Dharawal National Park: Maddens Falls, Minerva Pool and Jingga Pool (guides coming soon)
- Mermaid Pools and See Thru Pools
- Royal National Park Coastal Walk
- Macquarie Pass National Park (including Cascade Falls)
- The Best Walks in Wollongong (coming soon)
Kellys Falls FAQs
Below, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about Kellys Falls.
How Long Is the Kellys Falls Walk?
The Kellys Falls Track is a 1.4km return walk, that takes around 30 minutes to do. Whereas, the walk to the bottom of the falls (and also Juliet Falls) is around a 1.2km return walk, which takes around an hour. Of course, this depends on how long you stay to swim and admire the waterfalls!
Can You Swim at Kellys Falls?
Yes, you can swim at the bottom of the falls.
Does Kellys Falls Have Opening Hours?
Yes, the area is closed overnight between 8:30pm and 7am.
Is the Kellys Falls Track Dog Friendly?
No, dogs aren’t allowed in the area.
When Is the Best Time to Visit?
The best time to visit is after a decent bout of rain. That way, the waterfalls will look even more impressive. Also, it’s best to avoid visiting in the middle of the day during the weekend as this is when it’s busiest.
We hope you enjoyed our Kellys Falls NSW guide. Please share it with your waterfall chasing buddies on Facebook.
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.