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Winifred Falls, Royal National Park: The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide

Winifred Falls, Royal National Park: The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide

Winifred Falls is one the most picturesque and well-known waterfalls in the Royal National Park. By following the straightforward Winifred Falls Trail (AKA the Winifred Falls Fire Trail), you can easily visit the stunning waterfall. Plus, with some extra exploring, you can find hidden gems nearby, including South West Arm Pools and Anice Falls.

In this guide, we’re going to talk about all of the essential things to know about visiting Winifred Falls in the Royal National Park. We’ll also include details about visiting South West Arm Pools and Anice Falls.

Read about the best waterfalls in Sydney

About Winifred Falls, Royal National Park

Fed by South West Arm Creek, Winifred Falls is a seven-metre high cascade waterfall found in the Royal National Park. The waterfall features several lovely streams cascading over sandstone rock formations into an inviting swimming hole. For sure, many people visit this waterfall for some refreshing wild swimming in its natural pool.

When it comes to Royal National Park waterfalls, Winifred Falls is one of the most popular to visit. Alongside the well-known Wattamolla Falls and Curracurrong Falls, Winifred Falls is by no means a hidden gem. But, there are much lesser-known yet equally impressive natural attractions nearby.

Not far from the waterfall, you’ll find the breathtaking South West Arm Pools, which is one of the best wild swimming spots in Sydney. The swimming hole at South West Arm Pools is much bigger than the one at the base of Winifred Falls. So, if wild swimming is on your mind, you’ll have to visit South West Arm Pools after passing Winifred Falls.

While, if it’s just pure waterfall chasing on your mind, you’ll want to visit the lesser-known Anice Falls. This is another decent waterfall in the Royal National Park that isn’t far from Winifred Falls.

Before we talk about all of these three attractions in more detail, let’s look at exactly where Winifred Falls is located in the Royal National Park.

Winifred Falls, Royal National Park: Map

Winifred Falls is located in the upper area of Sydney’s Royal National Park in New South Wales. Feel free to click on the image below to access an interactive map of the area.

A map showing the location of Winifred Falls

Winifred Falls Trail, Royal National Park: Details

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 5.7km
  • Time: 1.5–2 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 190 metres
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Warumbal Road
  • Map: AllTrails

Bear in mind, that these trail specs reflect a walk, which includes visiting Winifred Falls, South West Arm Pools and Anice Falls. If you only wish to visit Winifred Falls, you can still use the AllTrails map and simply ignore the instructions for visiting the other nearby attractions.

FYI – if you want to explore more of the Winifred Falls Fire Trail to complete a longer walk, you can start from Audley (map).

Winifred Falls Trail: Our Experience

Below, we’ll talk through our experience chasing Winifred Falls in the Royal National Park. After visiting this waterfall, we then visited South West Arm Pools and then Anice Falls. To explore all of the best natural attractions in this area, we recommend visiting all of these breathtaking places. With more wild swimming and waterfall chasing on offer, why not?

Dan stands and looks at a small waterfall called Winifred Falls while on the Winifred Falls Trail in the Royal National Park

Warumbal Road Parking

The adventure begins at the small parking area on Warumbal Road. Near the roadside parking spaces, across the road, you’ll find a locked gate where your walk along the Winifred Falls Trail begins.

A locked gate in front of a fire trail

Winifred Falls Fire Trail

During the initial stages of the walk, the fire trail is flat, wide and gently winding. Indeed, it’s an easy start to the walk. But, soon enough, the Winifred Falls Trail descends several times towards South West Arm Creek. Overall, it’s only a 1.4km walk to reach Winifred Falls. So, the somewhat steep descents are short-lived. Before you know it, you’ll reach a flat clearing overlooking the waterfall and its natural pool.

A fire trail called the Winifred Falls Fire Trail in the Royal National Park is surrounded by bushland

Winifred Falls

At this point on the Winifred Falls Trail, you have a few options for exploring the waterfall. You can wander along uneven rock platforms to explore the top of the waterfall. There are some small natural ledges near the top of the falls which make great natural benches.

Otherwise, you can follow a downward trail that leads to the swimming hole at the base of the falls. These trails are a bit sketchy as they’re steep and overgrown. So, take care as you descend these trails down to the edge of the swimming hole. From these spots at the edge of the swimming hole, you’ll enjoy some of the best views of the waterfall, as you face directly opposite it. These spots also make for the easiest and safest entry points into the swimming hole.

On a previous visit to Winifred Falls many years ago, I was disappointed when I arrived as the waterfall had run dry. So, I was absolutely buzzing to see the waterfall full of life during this visit. Certainly, though, it’s a reminder that it’s a season waterfall and it can run dry during periods of reduced rainfall.

A small waterfall called Winifred Falls in the Royal National Park with several cascades pours gently over the rock platform

What’s Near Winifred Falls in the Royal National Park

Once you’ve explored and enjoyed Winifred Falls, you should definitely think about checking out the other nearby attractions. As mentioned, these include South West Arm Pools and Anice Falls. We’ll start by talking about the nearby South West Arm Pools.

South West Arm Pools Track

From the Winifred Falls Trail, you can join the South West Arm Pools Track. Basically, you’ll follow the steep downward trail past the swimming hole at Winifred Falls, and then continue alongside the creek. Compared with the Winifred Falls Trail, the South West Arm Pools Track is narrower and more overgrown. But, it’s only a 400 metre walk from Winifred Falls to South West Arm Pools. So, the tougher walk is over before you know it!

A narrow bush trail called the South West Arm Pools Track

South West Arm Pools

Genuinely, South West Arm Pools is one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets. The large emerald-coloured swimming hole is easily one of the best wild swimming spots in Sydney. Having real Karloo Pools vibes, South West Arm Pools is a fantastic natural attraction. But, you can expect a much quieter dip at South West Arm Pools compared with the more well-known Karloo Pools.

A large swimming hole called the South West Arm Pools

After swimming at South West Arm Pools, you’ll retrace your steps back to Winifred Falls. From there, we recommend checking out Anice Falls – yes, go chase another waterfall!

Saddle Gully Track

Continuing along the Winifred Falls Trail, you’ll soon cross over South West Arm Creek. You’ll then ascend from the creek, following a winding trail through dense bushland. Soon enough, you’ll arrive at an intersection where Winifred Falls Trail transitions into the Saddle Gully Track. This trail intersection is also where the Mount Bass Trail meets.

From this intersection, you’re only 300 metres away from Anice Falls. Continuing along the Saddle Gully Track, you’ll soon arrive at the waterfall.

A walking trail surrounded by trees called the Saddle Gully Track leads to Anice Falls

Anice Falls

By following the Saddle Gully Track, you’ll arrive at the top of Anice Falls. Sure, Anice Falls isn’t as spectacular as Winifred Falls. But, Anice Falls is still worth visiting. At the very least, you can expect far fewer people at Anice Falls!

Despite being a pleasant cascade waterfall, the problem at Anice Falls is that you can only access and see the top of the waterfall. So, you can’t really see much of it. If only there was an access track to the base of the falls! Admittedly, I did try and find one but to no avail.

From Anice Falls, you’ll simply retrace your steps back to the intersection and then rejoin the Winifred Falls Trail to complete the walk.

A small waterfall called Anice Falls

How to Get to Winifred Falls, Royal National Park

In terms of directions to Winifred Falls in the Royal National Park, it’s all fairly straightforward. You’ll need to drive along Sir Bertram Stevens Drive, and then turn onto Warrumbul Road. After around 350 metres, you’ll arrive at roadside parking near the trailhead.

If you don’t have a car, we recommend hiring one for the day. Certainly, if you want to have ultimate flexibility and freedom with exploring more of the Royal National Park after or before seeing Winifred Falls, it’s best to have your own vehicle.

Bear in mind, you’ll have to pay $12 per vehicle to park on Warrumbal Road. That’s unless you have a NSW National Parks Annual Pass. In this case, parking is free.

If you don’t have an annual pass, make sure to pay the entry fee. When I returned to my car, I noticed that a NSW National Parks ranger had left a fine on another visitor’s car. There are no pay machines on Warrumbal Road, so you’ll have to use the Park’nPay app, visit the Audley Visitor Centre or pay at an entry station.

Car Hire

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.

To find out more about renting a car with Discover Cars, read our Discover Cars review and Discover Cars Insurance review.

Public Transport

It’s also possible to use public transport to get to Audley. The Royal National Park uses Park Connections to run a shuttle service from Sutherland Station to Audley. From Audley, you can pick up the Winifred Falls Trail (AKA the Audley to Winifred Falls Walk).

Albeit, this shuttle service only runs on the weekend (usually two daily departures on Saturday and Sunday) and on public holidays (excluding Christmas Day). Given the limited availability of this service, we recommend driving. Additionally, if you want to do the short walk from Warrumbal Road, you’ll have no option but to drive there.

What to Pack

There are no facilities or amenities along the Winifred Falls Trail at the Royal National Park. Make sure to pack enough water and snacks. Of course, you’ll want to pack your swimmers and a towel too. We also recommend wearing a hat, long sleeves, sunglasses and sunscreen. Otherwise, here are some of our hiking gear essentials.

Osprey Skarab 30
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
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
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
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.

Sony Cybershot RX100 VII
Sony Cybershot RX100 VII

Capture epic photos and videos with the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII. This is hands-down the best compact camera. We love using this simple point-and-shoot camera when we’re hiking as it’s lightweight and durable.

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.

Winifred Falls, Royal National Park FAQs

Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about visiting Winifred Falls in the Royal National Park.

A small waterfall with several streams called Winifred Falls near South West Arm Pools and Anice Falls in the Royal National Park

How Long Is the Winifred Falls Walk?

The walk from the Warrumbal Road parking area to the waterfall is around 1.4km and takes only 15 minutes or so to do.

Is Winifred Falls Dog Friendly?

No, because pets aren’t allowed in NSW National Parks.

Can You Swim at Winifred Falls?

Yes, absolutely.

Is Winifred Falls Open?

The Winifred Falls Trail can close for many different reasons. Make sure to check the local alerts for the Royal National Park on the NSW National Parks website before visiting Winifred Falls.

Other Royal National Park Walks

Of course, there are many other brilliant walks to do at the Royal National Park. Other than doing the famous overnight Royal Coast Track, there are many other shorter walks to enjoy. Consider doing the Curra Moors Loop Track, Palm Jungle Loop Track, Garie Beach to Eagle Rock Walk or the Lady Carrington Drive Walk. Otherwise, you might want to do walks to lesser-known waterfalls such as National Falls or Uloola Falls.

Looking for other great hiking trails and waterfalls around Sydney? Read our Blue Mountains guides.

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.

Daniel Piggott

Dan is a travel blogger, physiotherapist, hiker, natural wonder seeker and world traveller. He loves writing travel guides to help his readers explore the most beautiful destinations in the world.

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