Rock hopping and bush bashing to a spectacular falls
Lamington National park is an amazing scenic location with beautiful rainforest, numerous streams and countless waterfalls. However it often disappoints experienced hikers who are looking for a challenge. The Larapinta Falls Hike is a great off trail, rock hopping hike that takes you to one of Lamington National Parks most spectacular falls without being too challenging
Only do this hike if you are experienced and well prepared.
This is a not a particularly challenging hike Australian Standard AS 5 level hike if you are experienced, fit, well prepared, take your time and have enough time. Much of the hike involves multiple creek crossings, rock hopping, scrambling and attempting to follow effectively non-existent paths. There are no particularly steep sections but there is a constant danger of injury from slipping.
This is an unmarked hike with signs only at the start of the hike and at Westray's grave. However it is really not possible to become lost as you are walking between sheer cliffs that rise up to 700 meters above the track on either side. However it is possible to miss the turn off to Larapinta Falls, but because this is an out and back hike, becoming lost simply means that you turn around and return back.
If you plan to undertake this hike it is recommend that you wear good quality hiking shoes with ankle support (though some hikers prefer wearing cross trainers as they are lighter and give slightly better grip on rocks), take plenty of water, a first aid kit and topographic maps of the area. You can download maps free from QTopo. It is a good idea to take a GPS, which we did when we went on this hike. But it might have been because we were in such a deep valley, the GPS didn't seem to be working properly and was giving us incorrect information.
In addition avoid the hike if it is raining. We went up when it was dry but just before returning there was a quick light rain shower which made the rocks just that little bit more slippery. If it is raining the rocks will become hazards and other parts of the track will become deep mud. Heavy rain could flood the creek and make the crossings more hazardous.
In drier weather you can rock hop your way up the creek
The first part of the hike is fairly easy, with one sometimes difficult creek crossing, a little scrambling and a trail that isn't always clear. It will take you at least 1. 5 hours to reach Westray's Grave. This historical site burial site is where one of the famous 1937 Stinson plane crash survivors who died trying to hike out is buried. This is a hike worth doing for its own sake. Read the details in the link for this hike.
The only time you can effectively become lost is if you miss the turn off to Larapinta Falls. Just after Westray's Grave (you will see a sign and the grave) the creek branches with the left branch heading to Larapinta Falls and the other one following Christmas Creek in the direction of Point Lookout Peak. To ensure you are on the correct branch of the trail you should take the first creek crossing after Westray's Grave.
In some places there are fallen trees you can use as bridges
From there the official trail ends, however hiking clubs have marked the trail with pink marker ribbons, and you can follow these. Be aware that hiking clubs will often go through and leave their own marker ribbons, so colours could change at any time.
Talking to a person who did the hike when the creek was very dry, you are also able to rock hop along the creek, but as we went on this hike after recent rain we avoided the creek except when we had to cross it.
After about 2 hours of rock hopping and scrambling from Westray's grave you will look up and see the waterfall pouring down a sheer cliff ahead of you. It is not particularly difficult or tiring, but it is generally slow going.
Overall this is an amazing, interesting but not overly difficult hike through beautiful rainforest to one of the best waterfalls in Lamington National Park. It took us 7 hours with only short breaks and you should give yourself 8 hours to complete this hike to be safe. It is definitely something to put on your bucket list.
5 km down the road from the start of the hike you will find the Stinson Park Camping Grounds, where you can change clothes after the hike as chances are your clothes will be filthy from the scrambling up muddy embankments. There seems to be a little shop there to buy snacks but the better option is to head into the nearest town, which is Beaudesert, to enjoy coffee at a cafe or a beer at a pub.