A Fortunate Wrong Turn at Elabana Falls

Elabana Falls
Elabana Falls

The forest grew dark as I stepped over buttress roots, past lichen-covered boulders and leaves that shimmered in the waning light. Logrunners flitted across the path, which now smelt like damp earth and moss. Soon I approached large boulders which formed a bridge across Canungra Creek, where Darragumai Falls tumbled before disappearing into the forest. This place, as I was discovering, is paradise.

I was in Queensland’s Lamington National Park – part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area – searching for Elabana Falls. The falls are easy to find, although somehow I managed to walk straight past the sign leading there.

Elabana Falls
Darragumai Falls

I ran into two hikers, one which looked a bit concerned as it was getting late. I assured them I knew what I was doing before I reached a sign which told me I’d virtually completed the Box Forest circuit – a longer walk than I’d intended.

Instead of taking the shorter route back to my starting point at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, I decided to backtrack to Elabana Falls. I was glad I’d taken a wrong turn, as the section past Elabana Falls on the Box Forest circuit is just magical. Navigating across Canungra Creek once again, I walked through the forest until I arrived at Box Log Falls, which I had all to myself.

Elabana Falls
Box Log Falls

This place is like Eden. Iridescent foliage covered sheer stone walls as water fell from the upper tier of the forest. Light wind dispersed the spray and a pool of water gathered beneath the falls, enclosed by a cluster of rocks, before continuing its journey.

Advancing along the trail, I passed towering Piccabeen palms before spotting the sign I’d so carelessly missed. I arrived at Elabana Falls at about 5pm and found only one couple there. Fifteen minutes passed and I had the place all to myself.

Elabana Falls
The trail to Elabana Falls

Elabana Falls is probably the most iconic waterfall in Lamington National Park and I could see why. It’s a tonic for the mind, just sitting there watching, feeling this marvellous gush of water on its journey through such an enchanting pocket of rainforest. However if you’re tackling this walk, make sure you go that bit further and do the Box Forest circuit, which also takes in Box Log Falls and Darragumai Falls – a section I found even more impressive.

Elabana Falls
Picnic Creek

Leaving Elabana Falls, I headed back to O’Reilly’s via Picnic Creek (another pretty spot), passing bulging pink-barked brush box trees. Some of these are 1500 hundred years old, making them the oldest known trees on the Australian mainland. I also saw plenty of small birds fluttering about that were too swift for my camera. However I only recognised the ground-dwelling logrunners, who don’t appear to be afraid of bushwalkers.

Elabana Falls
A brush box tree

The Box Forest circuit is one of the best bushwalks I’ve done and I’ve done a few. It’s a must for any nature lover.

A few facts

  • Elabana Falls and the Box Forest circuit are located in the Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park, which is best accessed from O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
  • O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is roughly two hour’s drive from Brisbane and an hour-and-a-half from the Gold Coast. The road is long and winding as it sits on top of a mountain, however it’s worth it as the views are spectacular.
  • The walk to Elabana Falls is 7.6 kilometres return and takes roughly three hours from O’Reilly’s. The walk is not particularly hard but requires a reasonable level of fitness.
  • The Box Forest circuit is 10.9 kilometres return and takes about four hours. It’s recommended to tackle this in a clockwise direction as it’s a bit easier. The walk also requires a reasonable level of fitness but is not too hard. However it can be a soggy slog in heavy rain. Check conditions prior to departure.
  • You can also access Elabana Falls and the Box Forest circuit from the Binna Burra section of Lamington National Park (which is easier to drive to), although it’s a 20 kilometre hike.

Have you done any walks in Lamington National Park? I’d love to hear about them!

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