Cronan Creek Falls - the Best Secret Swimming Hole Near the Gold Coast and Brisbane

25 Feb 2022


Ever since we posted this video on our TikTok and Instagram, we have been bombarded with questions from The Kokoda Challenge community asking how to get to this little slice of heaven. The truth is that we stumbled upon Cronan Creek Falls purely by accident, our intention was to walk the summit route to the top of Mount Barney, but we underestimated how much we would need to prepare for this mammoth route and opted for a friendlier option instead.



It’s best to set aside a full day for the walk to Cronan Creek Falls to allow sufficient time to complete the hike itself and then have ample time to relax at the swimming hole, plus time to walk back again.

We camped at Mount Barney Lodge which has excellent facilities and boasts the most fantastic views of the surrounding landscape, sunrise and sunset here are truly spectacular here! The benefit being you can enjoy views of the surrounding mountains from your very own campsite. 

You will need your togs and a towel, sturdy walking shoes, water and snacks, sunscreen, and phone with full battery to follow the Alltrails map so you dont' get lost!



View of the Mount Barney summit from the campgrounds at Mount Barney Lodge



You can either start the walk from Mount Barney Lodge or drive to Yellow Pinch Reserve and park your car there to cut a bit of time off your walk. This reserve has a picnic area and toilet facilities for you to enjoy a feed before or after your walk.

To start the walk to Cronan Creek Falls, head towards the informational signs at the start of the tracks, here you can read about how difficult the summit route is and all the preparation required, plus some information about the area. You will notice that one trail leads off to the right, while there is another 4WD track to the left which is marked by a steel gate. Head towards the left, passing the steel gate and follow the 4WD route until you eventually reach a turnstile gate. You will notice another sign here advising just how difficult the summit route is, Mount Barney is far bigger than climbing Surfer’s Paradise Q1 building, please don’t attempt this route without ample preparation! Many SES rescue missions occur here, don’t be one of them!



Continue to follow the 4WD track down towards the farmland where you will get more grand views of Mount Barney. Keep following the path through the farmland until you reach another steel gate, do not follow the tracks which lead to the summit. Pass through the farm gate (make sure you close it behind you) and continue down through the path to cross the causeway (prepare to get your shoes wet here unless there hasn’t been any rain in a while!). Continue along the trail, keeping an eye out for snakes, the grass is long in this area and we saw a friendly Green Tree Snake sunbaking right in the middle of the path, but there are plenty of unfriendly ones hanging around too!

Keep following the wide track, you will pass a couple of campsites where hikers usually camp before tackling the summit. These sites must be booked through the Parks and Wildlife website and there is no vehicle access, these campsites are only accessible by foot. Eventually you will reach a junction, the path going straight will take you to the summit while the path winding to the left will take you to Cronan Creek Falls.

You will need to cross a number of creeks along the way here so mind your footing and make sure you’re wearing shoes that you’re willing to get wet and muddy, especially if it’s been raining!



After continuing along for a long while, you will eventually see this post. Make sure you keep your eyes up and look out for it as it isn’t very obvious and is well camouflaged amongst the foliage, we missed it and had to turn around and retrace our steps! If the walk starts ascending uphill which then leads to a dead end, turn around and look out for the marker to your right as this means you have missed the turn off, you should be able to hear the falls. Don’t attempt to climb down from the dead end as it’s a dangerously steep drop off to the falls.

Follow the narrow, winding path until eventually you reach a clearing and follow the creek up to the waterfall and swimming hole. This is a great place to stop for a refreshing dip. We know that it’s tempting to drive straight in but please note that the swimming hole is deep in sections and there may be submerged boulders beneath the water's surface so be mindful of this before diving in.



To return to the car park at Yellow Pinch Reserve, return via the same track you took to get to the waterfalls. Please be cautious during extreme rainfall as this area can flood easily and creek crossings can be dangerous with the amount of water coming off the mountain. Always look out for signs when starting any hikes or check the national park website to avoid disappointment when arriving.

This is an excellent walk to train for The Kokoda Challenge as the walk is about 12kms in total. There isn’t much elevation, but it’s still worthwhile adding into your training to mix up the scenery and explore new areas. As always, make sure you tag us on Facebook and Instagram so we can share your adventures with other Kokoda Challengers!


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