While marked and maintained tracks in Queensland's national parks take you to many beautiful locations, there are also numerous hidden and secret locations. Most of these require long-off-trail hikes, often with dangerous scrambling, or require traversing difficult terrain. Cronan Creek Falls is a secret location that is easily accessible for even the mildly adventurous.
Note: Arriving at Cronan Creek Falls requires going off track and bashing your way through the bush and rock, hopping a short way up a creek. It is not really possible to become lost, but slips and falls are possible. The falls itself is surrounded by steep cliffs and bluffs. Many hikers who are unaware of the easier routes attempt to scale them, which can be dangerous.
Some rock hopping is required to arrive at the Falls
The falls are located near the end of the Cronan Creek Track, which starts at the Yellow Pinch Car Park at Mt Barney National Park. This is a lovely 13 km return hike that takes you through varied terrain, from open bushland to rainforest. It is not a difficult track to walk, other than the steep section near the beginning and the numerous creek crossings, some of which will require that you get your feet wet (spare socks are advised).
Being a secret location, the Cronan Creek Falls are not marked. Some people walk to the end of the track and then bush bash their way to the falls. This will generally lead to just above the falls, or to the cliffs just below the falls.
An alternative approach is to make your way down to the creek from the track and rock hop your way up to the falls. If you leave the track too early, as we did last time, it takes a lot of time to do this. It is not a difficult creek to rock up, especially when the water is lower, but this is not for everyone.
The preferred way is to make your way to the end of the track, and then turn around and come back a few hundred metres. You may be lucky and spot a little rock cairn beside a tree. This is the best place to get off the track. Make your way to the creek, and then rock hop or wade up the creek for a few hundred metres.
This little pile of rocks lets you know where to start bush bashing
Then you have arrived at what can only be described as the perfect waterfall swimming hole. It consists of a deep hole with a flat underwater rock shelf at both ends. The one under the waterfall end lets you sit or stand directly under the waterfall. The cliffs and overhanging trees provide shade on one side and a sunny location to dry out after your swim on the other side.
Finish the day with coffee and cake at the Shed Cafe (Saturdays and Sundays 9am to 4pm), or go back to Rathdowney to enjoy a beer at the Rathdowney Hotel.