Kondalilla Falls National Park
Is there anything better than a day hike to an 80-meter-high waterfall in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland on the weekend? We think not! And for those who are eager to get out and train in preparation for the 2022 Sunshine Coast Kokoda Challenge, what better place to start than none other than the beautiful Kondalilla Falls.
Situated in Kondalilla Falls National Park, the car park is located in between the sleepy towns of Mapleton and Montville, about a 50-minute drive from Noosa Heads. There is a designated car park at the picnic area situated at the start of the circuit, which can fill up pretty quickly but there is also ample street parking – just be mindful that you’re not blocking any of the local’s driveways!
To start the circuit, you will begin by walking down the bitumen pathway until you reach the public restrooms and informational signs about Kondalila Falls National Park, stop here to gain some history about the waterfall and information about some of the longer surrounding walks.
Almost immediately after you have commenced your trek down to the base of the waterfall, you will see a bridge crossing a smaller cascade with the option to take two different paths. We took the path on the higher level which follows the Kondalila circuit in an anti-clockwise direction.
After a relatively steep decline down a clear, formed path, you will eventually reach the swimming holes. This is where you can also access the top of the waterfall and soak in the surrounding views of the landscape. This area can get quite busy, particularly on weekends and especially on hot days, so we ventured further down the track to reach a quieter spot. Take the metal stair well further down into the valley and keep following the trail until you reach a lookout of Kondalilla Falls.
You’ll see a sign hear informing that the word ‘Kondalila’ means ‘rushing water’ in Aboriginal.
After winding your way further down through the lush rainforest, eventually you will come to a set of stairs that lead to an area of large boulders, which you will need to climb over if you wish to reach the base of the waterfall. This is a nice place to stop and have some lunch as well as to enjoy the ambience, but it doesn’t appear that the water hole is large or deep enough to be able to swim in, save it for when you get back up to the rock pools!
After getting your obligatory Instagram content and soaking in the serenity, you will now continue your journey up the path; time to work up a sweat! You will eventually come across the rock pools once again and now would be a great time to stop for a swim after you’ve got the blood pumping from walking up to the top of the falls again. You may spot a few adrenaline junkies climbing up the rockfaces to jump into the rock pools below, we wouldn’t recommend this – the water levels can change and the water isn’t clear enough to spot any dangerous rocks lurking beneath the water’s surface.
Follow the signs indicating the direction to follow to return to the car park and enjoy the last incline after having cooled off from your swim!
If you’re training for The Kokoda Challenge, we would definitely recommend this spot as not only is it a stunningly scenic hike or trail run, but the track also includes fairly steep inclines and declines – elevation training is very important in preparation for the event! The inclines will help build your leg muscles for the steep ascents on the track and the declines will also get your knees and joints used to the impact of going down hills, especially if you suffer from ITB (more on that here). It’s also a great opportunity to break in any new hiking boots or gear you may have bought as it’s important to trial any gear in training, rather than using anything for the first time during the event.
This circuit can be done in either direction and really just comes down to preference as both paths to the base of the falls seem to have a fairly similar gradient as you will see from the Alltrails map. No camping is permitted in the national park or picnic area located near the car park, but there is plenty of surrounding options if you require accommodation.
Being a national park means that there are strictly no dogs or other domestic animals permitted on this walk. We saw a family who had brought their dog, which was rather upsetting as this has an impact on the native wildlife in the area as well as threatening the surrounding flora. Not to mention, the ranger regularly patrols the area and issues fines to anyone doing the wrong thing!
Lastly, you’ll also see a sign as you enter the circuit; “Take only photos, leave only footprints.” Please respect the national park and help keep it beautiful by taking all your rubbish with you, sticking to the trails and not taking any of the plants.
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