This has to be one of the best day trips from Cairns, North Queensland, Australia! It features 10+ beautiful waterfalls with stunning views all day long. Grab your hiking shoes and put a swimsuit on under your clothes for an absolutely unforgettable day stuffed full of waterfalls. You will be able to drive for 20 minutes to a waterfall, explore that waterfall and drive another 20 minutes to an equally beautiful waterfall all day long! Let’s ignore TLC’s advice and go chase some waterfalls!
To help me plan this day trip I used the Atherton Tablelands website with their waterfalls and waterways trail post. Upon flipping through some local guide books the night before, we also found a few ones not listed on their site that were also on the way! Most of these waterfalls are just a couple minutes walk from the carpark. A few are around a 30 minute walk and one is a 4 mile loop trail. I suggest using the Alltrails app to help find each of the trails. The day we went it was pouring rain. We were muddy, bloody (I’m pretty clumsy), soaking wet and exhausted! But we had such a fun day- I’m sure we will cherish the memories for years to come!
Where to Stay for This Day Trip
While you could leave from Cairns and see a majority of these waterfalls in one day, I would suggest staying in Yungaburra, which is about an hour drive from Cairns. By staying in Yungaburra, you will have more time to enjoy, hike around, and swim at the waterfalls.
Travel Tip: I suggest staying two nights in Yungaburra, so you can try to see the infamous platypus! There is a good area to view them in Yungaburra and they only come in during the evening.
We stayed at On the Wallaby hostel for one night in Yungaburra and ended up making it two nights. The owner was so kind and the hostel is so unique with all of its eco-friendliness. We loved our stay there. They also offer some fun canoeing and motorbike tours around the Atherton Tablelands.
How to Get Chasing the Waterfalls
If you start in Yungaburra, I would begin this waterfall road trip by visiting the famous Curtain Fig Tree. This tree is on the drive out of town from Yungaburra. I originally did not want to stop to see a silly tree, but oh my goodness! This tree is absolutely incredible. It is definitely worth a quick 5 minute stop to see this 500+ year old enormous tree!
If you start in Cairns make sure you wake up early to start this day trip in order to see all the waterfalls on this list! I would suggest starting with Waterfall #10 – Barron Falls since it is the closest to Cairns and then working your way down and back.
For those of you who cannot travel without a map, like me, here is a map version of the waterfalls and other spots mentioned below:
Travel Tip: Beware of leeches while swimming in the water around these waterfalls. Since it was raining so much when we went, we did not go swimming everywhere; however, the places we did had leeches. Other travelers also warned us about the leeches too, so just be careful.
Waterfall #1 – Malanda Falls
The first waterfall is right off the road and down just a few stairs to get to it. It is a great place for a swim. Malanda Falls is not the most impressive waterfall of the day but it’s a great place to start and go for a swim if it’s already super hot!
Waterfall #2 – Millaa Millaa Falls
Millaa Millaa Falls and the next two waterfalls are quite well known on the waterfall circuit. Because of this, they will be more crowded than the other waterfalls. If you were to close your eyes and imagine a waterfall, I’m sure you’re picturing Millaa Millaa waterfall. It is a beautiful, classic waterfall. Many people (and tour groups) come to this waterfall for a swim. This waterfall area is so popular there are toilets and changing rooms available for the visitors.
Waterfall #3 – Zillie Falls
This massive waterfall has a viewpoint from the top and there is also a hike down to the bottom of the falls. We did it in the pouring rain. I can’t say I would suggest making your way to the bottom on a very rainy day. It was extremely steep and very slippery! But if you happen to be there on a dry day, make sure you hike down to the bottom the waterfall. The massive volume of water pounding on the rocks is deafening. It does not look that huge in the photos, but this waterfall is ginormous with such a large volume of water flowing through it.
Waterfall #4 – Ellinjaa Falls
Ellinjaa Falls is the 3rd very well known waterfall on the Atherton Tablelands waterfall circuit that will have a lot of other tourists visiting. It is another beautiful waterfall that you can swim at. At this point in the waterfall circuit you will be leaving behind the majority of the tourists and heading to lesser known waterfalls.
Waterfall #5 – Mungalli Falls
I would consider Mungalli Falls two separate waterfalls. Once you get to the carpark, you will realize this place is more like a restaurant, education center house, we weren’t even sure we were in the right place. The top half of the waterfall is by the car park (pictured on the left) and then if you walk through their outdoor education center across the bridge and down the big hill, you will find the larger steeper waterfall (pictured on the right). It read it would take about 40 minutes to walk there so we almost didn’t go, but that ended up being a bit of an overestimation. I think it only took 15 minutes for us walking downhill; however, uphill definitely took more time.
Waterfall #6 – Nandroya Falls
It is a longer hike than the others to get to this waterfall. We really had no idea what this waterfall was going to look like and were debating on even going because it’s about 4 miles there and back and we had a lot more waterfalls to see that day! But I am so glad we did because this might have been my favorite of all the waterfalls we saw that day. This waterfall is so tall and there is so much water flowing through. It is incredible! Definitely worth the hike to it!
Waterfall #6 Bonus – Silver Creek Falls
On the hike to Nandroya Falls, you will also pass Silver Creek Falls. This is a smaller waterfall, but beautifully enchanting in the woods on the way to the big Nandroya falls.
Waterfall #7 – Tchupala Falls
This waterfall, and waterfall #8 – Wallicher Falls below, are both from the same car park. From the car park, you start on the trail and take a right to visit Tchupala Falls. This walk is about 20 minutes to the falls through the woods. When you get to the platform, it seemed there was some construction going on where the old staircase was to go down to the falls. Hopefully it will be open when you visit to be able to go further down to the waterfall.
Waterfall #8 – Wallicher Falls
This waterfall is about a 15 minute walk from the same car park as Tchupala falls. From the car park you start on the trail and take a left to visit Wallicher Falls. This waterfall you can only really see from a distance, but it’s a stunning, and loud, landscape!
Waterfall #9 – Davies Creek Falls
This is the last waterfall in the area of Yungaburra and the Atherton Tablelands. We finished out the day with Davies Creek Falls for a nice last swim and hike. There is also an incredible, enormous sinkhole/cave thing in the ground there which was an added surprise!
Waterfall #10 – Barron Falls
This waterfall is quite famous and close to Cairns. Barron Falls has a total height of 125 meters (410 feet!) and a width of 259 meters (850 feet!). We were there in the dry season so it was just a trickle, but still quite impressive with how far it drops down! It can be really gushing full of water during the wet season.
Bonus Waterfalls – Emerald Creek Falls & Wallaman Falls
If you can fit it in, I would suggest trying to add in either Emerald Creek Falls or Wallaman Falls (or both if you’re not waterfalled-out yet!). Emerald Creek Falls is similar to Davies Creek Falls, with swimming areas and a nice little walking trail. Wallaman Falls seems like an epic waterfall! But it is much further south than the others on this list. It is about a four hour drive from Cairns and about a three hour drive from the waterfall closest to this list (Tchupala Falls). But they have a nice campground and hiking trails I would love to go see!
Hopefully you can enjoy a beautiful day in Northern Queensland, Australia by seeing more than 10 waterfalls in one day! Let me know if you have any questions below. Safe Travels 🙂
Other Things To Do Around Cairns
I would suggest spending at least a week in the Cairns area with a rental car exploring Northern Queensland, Australia. Here are some other fun things to do while visiting the Cairns area:
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