Nethercote Falls is a small yet breathtaking waterfall in the South Coast area of New South Wales. Since 2015, when the Forestry Corporation of NSW announced plans to close access to the waterfall, there has been considerable uncertainty about visiting the falls. In this guide, we’re going to clarify the situation and talk about the current access status. In doing so, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting Nethercote Falls.
Read about accommodation in nearby Eden and Merimbula (guides coming soon)
Table of Contents
About Nethercote Falls
Nethercote Falls is a stunning waterfall found along the Yowaka River in south NSW. Although the waterfall is only around 10 metres high, it plunges from a gorge that’s surrounded by epic vertical rock walls. Indeed, the diminutive rocky amphitheatre surrounding the waterfall is just as spectacular as the falls itself.
The Nethercote Falls swimming hole is also a worthwhile standalone attraction. Many people visit to simply swim in the water of the natural pool created by the waterfall. After all, what better way is there to cool off after walking to the waterfall?
Undoubtedly, the waterfall is a major natural attraction in the area. But, there remains uncertainty over whether it’s actually open or closed. Below, we’ll cover all of the details about its current access status.
GoPro HERO12 Black
The GoPro HERO12 Black is the best action camera on the market. The built-in stabilisation and high specs are excellent for filming adventure activities, so you can capture those special moments with your friends and family.
Is Nethercote Falls Permanently Closed?
After accidents occurred at Nethercote Falls, in 2015, the Forestry Corporation of NSW announced plans to close access to the waterfall due to safety concerns.
In response, the local community rallied with a petition of over 1,000 signatures to keep access to the waterfall open. As a result, the Forestry Corporation of NSW softened its stance. In the end, the Forestry Commission only officially prohibited vehicle access to the lower car park via the 4WD-only Nethercote Falls Link Road. And, although the Forestry Commission and local tourism boards don’t promote or encourage visiting the waterfall, there is no official closure. Access to the waterfall, on foot, remains possible.
Indeed, it’s possible to park at the upper car park on Yowaka River Trail, walk down the vehicle-prohibited road and then follow a trail down to the waterfall. At the upper car park and along the trail, there are no signs announcing a closure nor are there any gates or fences preventing access, on foot.
Is Nethercote Falls Open?
So, all in all, Nethercote Falls is open and accessible, sort of. Officially speaking, the Forestry Corporation of NSW says access is prohibited. But, there are no measures in place (not even a sign) to prohibit, discourage or prevent access. While, it’s also been announced, that the Forestry Corporation will not prosecute or fine anyone for visiting the waterfall.
Of course, it’ll likely only take another significant accident or incident for access to be properly prohibited. So, during a visit, please be safe and don’t put yourself or others in danger!
Where Is Nethercote Falls?
You’ll find Nethercote Falls in the Nullica State Forest, near Eden and Merimbula. Indeed, when it comes to waterfalls near Eden, Nethercote Falls is the only decent option we’re aware of.
To help get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the location on Google Maps.
Nethercote Falls Walk Details
To get to the waterfall, you’ll need to do a short bush walk, which is also known as the Nethercote Falls Hike.
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 1.4km
- Time: 30–45 minutes
- Accumulated elevation gain: 100 metres
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Nethercote Falls Link Road
- Map: Wikiloc
How Long Is the Nethercote Falls Walk?
All in all, it’s a 1.4km out and back walk and takes around 30–45 minutes to do. Of course, your time taken swimming at and admiring the waterfall will determine how long you spend at Nethercote Falls!
Bear in mind, it’s a steep trail down to the waterfall. So, the walk back takes a lot longer than the walk down!
Netherote Falls Walk: The Highlights
After finding roadside parking on Yowaka River Trail and passing a picnic area, you’ll begin the walk down Nethercote Falls Link Road.
It’s a wide trail for walking, that’s easy to navigate. After around 300 metres, you’ll find a narrower path that more steeply leads down to the Yowaka River. Keep in mind, that the trail is uneven, rocky and sometimes slippery underfoot. So, take care and take your time.
Soon enough, you’ll reach the river stream, which you’ll have to cross. Personally, when Beck and I visited, the river wasn’t flowing very heavily. So, crossing was easy. But, after heavy rainfall, if the river is in spate, crossing may be more challenging and unsafe to do so.
If it’s safe to proceed, you’ll cross the stream and follow an obvious trail that leads to the swimming hole at Nethercote Falls. As expected, with the gentle flow of the Yowaka River, the waterfall wasn’t flowing very powerfully during our visit. But, the incredible gorge setting was still an amazing site worth seeing. Hopefully, when you visit, you’ll see the waterfall in all its glory!
After chilling by the water, photographing the waterfall, paddling in the pool and exploring the surrounding bush, Beck and I retraced our steps to complete the walk.
Best Time of Year to Visit
Although the strength of Nethercote Falls fluctuates, there is generally a reliable year-round flow, barring times of drought. For most waterfalls, visiting after heavy rainfall is ideal for a stronger flow. But, it’s actually advised to avoid visiting after heavy rainfall. That’s because the walking track across the creek may be too dangerous to cross if the river level is too high.
Otherwise, we recommend visiting early morning or late afternoon. That’s because locals tend to visit during the middle of the day. And, as to be expected, it’s much quieter visiting during the week.
How to Get to Nethercote Falls
The only way to get to Nethercote 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.
Personally, Beck and I managed to drive a 2WD safely to the upper car park on the Yowaka River Trail. But, the Yowaka River Trail is an unsealed dirt road that’s bumpy with potholes and steep sections. So, you’ll have to drive slowly and carefully. For peace of mind, it may be best to drive a 4WD.
Where to Stay Near Nethercote Falls
Most people visit the waterfall on a road trip from Sydney or Melbourne. The closest sizeable towns with a decent variety of accommodation options include the beautiful coastal towns of Eden and Merimbula. Certainly, you’ll find a pleasant place to stay at either Eden or Merimbula.
Stay in Eden or Merimbula
- Best Accommodation in Eden Guide (coming soon)
- Best Accommodation in Merimbula Guide (coming soon)
When it comes to camping nearby, the Yowaka River Camp is a popular campsite.
What to Pack and Wear
Here are our hiking gear essentials for walking to Nethercote Falls.
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.
We hope you enjoyed our Nethercote Falls NSW guide. Please leave us a comment below if the access status changes.
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.