Chasing Waterfalls in Lamington National Park

The end

The sun dropped behind the ridge and my path gradually faded into darkness. It was a new moon, which meant there was no light upon my trail tonight. I continued steadily through the forest, passing nameless shapes in tree hollows that made my skin erupt into goosebumps. The path now turned pitch black, forcing me to use the light of my phone.

Lamington National Park
The statue that fooled me

Walking the last five kilometres alone in darkness, I arrived back at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in southern Queensland. Three men were sitting on a wall, drinking, engaged in conversation. I got closer and realised it was just a statue. I looked up and the stars were scintillating brilliantly overhead, as the night was as clear as I’d ever seen it up here on the mountain plateau. Just why had I returned this late?

The beginning

It was 2pm when I began my journey towards Elabana Falls in Lamington National Park, retracing the steps of my adventure last month. The smell of wood, earth and moss hit me, and there was a purity behind it that went deep into my lungs. It felt really good.

Lamington National Park
A bird’s nest fern

As I passed through a tunnel of leaves, an animal crashing through the undergrowth pulled me back to the present. I was now determined to be more mindful in this gobsmackingly beautiful place. So I walked slowly, deliberately – watching, listening – and it was a good hour and a half before I reached Elabana Falls. From here I followed a new path along Toolona Creek towards my destination for the day, Chalahn Falls.

Lamington National Park

Chasing waterfalls

I passed about five waterfalls along this trail, watching water slide into gaps permanently cast in shadow before tumbling down ledges, deeper into the forest. I saw vivid green leaves shimmer beneath sunbeams and dappled light. I leapt about to get a better look and slipped on a few moss-covered rocks.

Lamington National Park
Lamington National Park

A caterpillar dangled by a thread, fungus spread across rocks and logs like tender brains and mouldy pancakes, thriving in the dark, moist conditions. Leaving one waterfall I came across another, then another and if it wasn’t for Kristin’s post on this trek I probably wouldn’t know that one of them was called Gwongurai Falls, which was my favourite on the trail.

Lamington National Park
Tender brains
Lamington National Park
Mouldy pancakes

I don’t usually do blurred waterfalls shots, as I find them a bit cheesy, although it’s been so long since I’ve tried that I found it a novelty. I had fun with my tripod, slowing down time with silky curtains of water and a few frozen selfies at Chalahn Falls.

Lamington National Park
Lamington National Park
Gwongurai Falls

The destination

I told myself I’d have to return if I didn’t reach Chalahn Falls by 4pm, as daylight was fast sliding towards the other side of the world. Being the stubborn person I am, I trekked on, this time telling myself that at 4:30 I really would have to return. I arrived at Chalahn Falls at 4:23pm, feeling pleased that I had achieved my goal. I sat there for 30 minutes, snacking, playing with my camera and enjoying my last few moments of daylight.

Lamington National Park
Chalahn Falls

Chalahn Falls was a little disappointing compared to the other falls I’d encountered, although there was satisfaction in reaching it. I bet this place would sing when the water is really pouring, but that wasn’t today.

Chalahn Falls, Lamington National Park

I turned to watch the sun descend behind the ridge at 5pm and I knew I had over 5 kilometres to walk back. Most of this I would experience in darkness, as this was the beginning of my end. However it had been worth it, to take my time, to experience fleeting moments in the present within Lamington National Park.

Lamington National Park

A few facts (and a tip)

  • The walk to Chalahn Falls starts at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in the Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park and is roughly 10.5 kilometres return.
  • The entire loop around the Toolona Creek circuit is 17.4km long.
  • You can take in Elabana Falls, Box Log Falls and even the Box Forest circuit on your return if you have time.
  • The path has a number of fallen trees and slippery rocks, which should be fine to tackle if you’re reasonably fit. However it can be a slog in wet conditions.
  • Slow down, take your time, leave early if you have to – unless you don’t mind returning in the dark.

Have you been to any waterfalls in Lamington National Park? What was your experience like?

4 thoughts on “Chasing Waterfalls in Lamington National Park”

  1. Looks beautiful. I’ve been to Lamington National Park twice, and both times it was in the pouring rain – I guess that explains why it’s so green! Even in the pouring rain, the scenery is spectacular and we managed to go for a lengthy walk along the trails. For us west coasters the greenery and the many waterfalls are particularly stunning.

    • Yeah, Lamington National Park is a particularly green spot, but I know what you mean Nina. I’ve lived in the west for a few years and when I came back to places like this, I found it such a contrast. I love how lush it is in the east. I reckon you’ll be back soon!

  2. A mate and myself trekked out on Saturday thru Echo Point and into the wild to the Rat-a-tat hut campsite for our weekend adventure.
    Had a great time, weather was perfect, and the surrounds were spectacular as always.
    The only waterfalls on our trip were on the creek at the camp, but there is one good 5 metre one there that serenaded us all night long!
    Returning to O’Reillys at lunch on Sunday, I’ve never seen so many people there! Mothers day outings had by all I’d say.
    Lamington is a favourite of ours, and we endeavour to hike all trails we can!

    • This was on Saturday too Dave. Is Echo Point in the Binna Burra section? I’ll have to check that out. And yes, wasn’t the weather tops?! I’ll have to remember to get some tips off you next time I head into Lamington, sounds like you know it well!


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