Maddens Falls is one of the most stunning waterfalls near Sydney. The Maddens Falls Walking Track leads to a well-constructed viewing platform, which offers nice views of the waterfall. But, if you want to get up, close and personal with the falls, you’ll need to use a side trail near the viewing platform to access the base of the main falls. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting Maddens Falls, including how to get to the bottom of the main falls.
Read about Kellys Falls and Minerva Pool (coming soon)
Table of Contents
About Maddens Falls, Dharawal National Park
Maddens Falls is found along Maddens Creek in Darkes Forest in the Dharawal National Park, New South Wales. Given the ease of accessibility to the waterfall’s main viewing platform, it’s a popular waterfall to visit. As well, it’s easy to access the gentle streams along the creek. So, it’s a popular place for families to visit and for kids to go for a paddle!
You’ll enjoy a superb view of the waterfall from the viewing platform at the end of the Maddens Falls Walking Track. Assuming there has been some decent rainfall, you should see several streams cascading over the rock platform. But, the best way to enjoy the waterfall isn’t from the viewing platform. It’s by accessing an unofficial side trail, that leads to the base of the main falls.
In reality, Maddens Falls actually tumbles over several more cascades along Maddens Creek, as the stream makes its way to O’Hares Creek. If you’re feeling very adventurous, are an experienced bushwalker and don’t mind a bush bash, you can actually explore even more of the cascades along Maddens Creek. Indeed, there are several stunning cascades and waterfalls to see further downstream. But, these are technically challenging to reach, so we don’t necessarily recommend chasing these falls.
Thankfully, it’s safe and reasonable, even for beginner walkers, to reach the base of the main cascades at Maddens Falls. This guide will run you through exactly how to get to the base of this main waterfall.
Where Is Maddens Falls?
Maddens Falls is located in the South Coast area, south of Sydney 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.
Maddens Falls Walk Details
Here are the approx. trail specs for the walk to the base of the main cascade at Maddens Falls.
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 1.4km
- Time: 0.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 40 metres
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Darkes Forest Road parking area
- Map: AllTrails
FYI – the AllTrails map doesn’t show you how to get to the bottom of the main cascade. Please head to this section for an illustrated map of how to get to the bottom of the main falls.
Maddens Falls Walk Difficulty
On its own, the Maddens Falls Walking Track is an easy hiking trail to follow. But, if you add the extra exploration, using the side trail, to access the base of the main falls, then the difficulty is moderate. Although it doesn’t take long to reach the base of the main falls, it requires a little off-trail hiking. So, we think it’s fair to say, that getting to the base of the main falls is moderately challenging.
Maddens Falls Walk: Trail Description
Now, we’ll go through some details about the Maddens Falls Walk. Near the start of the trail, you’ll find an information board with plenty of interesting details about flora and fauna in the area.
Essentially, the walking trail is a raised boardwalk, over a swampy wetland that sits on a sandstone base. Along the walk, you’ll be surrounded by acacias, native river roses and luscious ferns. You should also keep an ear out for birdlife and frogs!
Overall, the boardwalk is flat and very easy to follow. After around 500 metres, you’ll reach the viewing platform.
Maddens Falls Viewing Platform
At the viewing platform, you’ll enjoy a spectacular view of Maddens Falls. The falls spread fairly evenly along the rock platform creating a bridal veil style of cascade falls. For most people, this view of the waterfall will suffice, and they’ll be on their merry way. And, that’s fair enough as from the platform, you’ll enjoy a lovely view of the main cascade.
But, if you’ve made it this far, you may as well explore a little further!
How to Get to the Bottom of Maddens Falls
By using an unmarked side trail near the viewing area, you can check out the waterfalls from the other side of the creek. In doing so, you can get to the base of the main falls, that you would have otherwise seen already from the viewing platform.
Essentially, the entrance to the side trail is easily found just prior to the main viewing platform. Although it’s unmarked, the trail, leading away from the boardwalk, is well-walked and well-defined.
Once you find this side trail, you will walk through bushland for less than a minute. You’ll then reach the rock platform and streams at the top of the waterfall. Bear in mind, that after heavy rainfall, the stream may be unsafe to cross. Personally, when Beck and I visited, and for the most part, the streams are usually fairly tame. It’s more like crossing over wet rock rather than wading through a river stream.
As long as you have decent footwear and take your time, it’s safe to pass. Once you cross the streams, you’ll then descend around the corner to approach the main cascade.
It only takes a minute or so to negotiate some rocks and trees, and you’ll arrive at the base of the main waterfall at Maddens Falls.
The Bottom of Maddens Falls
From the base of the main waterfall, you’ll get to enjoy it in all of its glory. Certainly, it’s quite incredible to face directly opposite the beautiful cascade. Beck and I hung out at the base of the main falls for quite some time, enjoying the sound of the falls.
As mentioned, we’ve heard it’s possible to get to the actual base of the falls, further downstream. We even checked out a possible route to follow downstream. But, admittedly, scaling down to the bottom looked like a hell of a dodgy scramble. Admittedly, we weren’t up for a bush bash. Definitely, we were already satisfied with the views from the base of the main waterfall.
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After admiring the base of the main falls, you’ll simply retrace your steps to return to the boardwalk. From there, you’ll head back towards Darkes Forest Road to complete the walk. Feel free to use one of the many side trails closer to the road, where it’s possible to go for a paddle in the creek. On a hot day, this is awfully tempting!
What to Expect at Maddens Falls
You can expect an easy-going and relaxing walk using the boardwalk to access the viewing platform for Maddens Falls. If you want more of an adventure, we recommend using the side trail to get to the base of the main falls.
How to Get to Maddens Falls
The only way to get to Maddens 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.
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.
Maddens Falls Directions and Parking
There isn’t a Maddens Falls car park as such. But, there is a spacious roadside parking area near the entrance of the walking track. You can find this Maddens Falls parking area here.
Where to Stay Near Maddens Falls
Generally speaking, wild or free camping is prohibited in NSW National Parks. There are no official Maddens Falls camping areas, so if you want to camp, you’ll have to find somewhere nearby.
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.
Things to Do Near Maddens Falls
There are other awesome natural attractions to explore in the Dharawal National Park. Below, we’ll go through some of the other things to see in the area.
Other than Maddens Falls, Minerva Pool is one of the most popular places to visit in Dharawal National Park. The Minerva Pool Walking Track leads you to an epic swimming hole, which is actually a sacred women’s place for the Aboriginal Dharawal People.
Read more: Minerva Pool Guide (coming soon)
Not far from Minerva Pool, you’ll find the equally impressive Jingga Pool. The Jingga Track is another nice bushwalk, that leads you to a swimming hole and cascade.
Read more: Minerva Pool Guide (coming soon)
Appleshack at Glenbernie Orchard
Another worthwhile attraction to see in the area is the Appleshack at the Glenbernie Orchard. The orchard is literally located opposite the entrance to the Maddens Falls Walking Track. So, why not pop in for a visit or a cider after doing the walk?
Maddens Falls FAQs
Below, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about Maddens Falls.
How Long Is the Maddens Falls Walk?
The Maddens Falls Walking Track is a 1.1km return walk, that takes around 20–30 minutes to do. But, by walking to the bottom of the main falls, the walk is around a 1.4km return walk, which takes around 45 minutes to do. Of course, the time taken depends on how long you stay to admire the waterfall!
Can You Swim at Maddens Falls?
Maddens Falls swimming is possible, but not at the actual waterfall as the base of the falls isn’t very deep. It’s better to go for a paddle further downstream, at multiple spots along the creek, closer to the road. However, don’t expect a proper good swim as it’s more of a paddling situation.
Is the Maddens Falls Walk Child Friendly?
Yes, it’s a popular area for families to take their kids to go for a paddle in the creek.
Is There Wheelchair Access at Madden Falls?
Although the boardwalk is fairly flat and even, it hasn’t been announced by NSW National Parks as wheelchair accessible.
Is the Maddens Falls Walk Dog Friendly?
No, dogs aren’t allowed in NSW National Parks.
Are There Amenities at Maddens Falls?
No, so make sure you’re prepared. Take your own water and snacks.
When Is the Best Time to Visit?
It’s best to visit around April as this is when the waterfall tends to be at its fullest. Indeed, in summer, the waterfall can dry out.
Is Madden Falls Worth the Trip?
Yes, absolutely! It’s a gorgeous waterfall and easily accessible. Even getting to the base of the main falls, via an unofficial route, isn’t too challenging.
- Visit for sunset: the waterfall is a popular place to visit for sunset.
- Check for closures: make sure to check local alerts before you visit to make sure the walking track isn’t closed.
- Leave no trace: make sure to take any rubbish home with you.
We hope you enjoyed our Maddens 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.