Part of a network of walking trails in the Palmerston section of Wooroonooran National Park, the Nandroya Falls Loop is the longest bushwalk I’m doing on a day-trip to the south of Cairns. The destination is a spectacular waterfall and swimming hole. The Nandroya Falls Loop track starts at the western end of the Henrietta Creek Campground, where there is lots of parking. The signposted trail immediately crosses Boolabah Creek over a very sturdy bridge.
The Nandroya Falls walking track emerges onto a large grassy clearing next to the Palmerston Highway, before plunging back into the rainforest.
After about 700m, the track reaches an a junction, offering a short (1.7km) and longer (3.5km) route to Nandroya Falls.
Being a bit short on time (as I’ve got a few other, shorter walks planned) I take the shorter route. The track descends fairly gently through rainforest, past some giant trees and strangler figs. I’m expecting to pick up a few leeches, but so far I haven’t seen any of these unwelcome hitchhikers.
About a kilometre past the junction, the track passes Silver Creek Falls, a small waterfall surrounded by ferns.
It’s only another few hundred metres before the upper and lower cascades of Nandroya Falls comes into sight.
There’s a handful of people here; a couple of people swimming in the pool beneath the falls, and another couple of bushwalkers who are about to head back. The waterfall itself is pretty impressive, as it plunges through a narrow chute.
Although I’d planned to return the same (shorter) way, the bushwalkers I talk to who are leaving suggest I really should take the longer way back as it’s more scenic… so I turn onto the Nandroya Falls Loop “alternate return route” as I head back.
I’m glad I’ve taken this route, which closely follows Douglas Creek downstream from Nandroya Falls. There’s a glimpse of more small cascades and waterfalls along the creek.
The track passes another small (unnamed) waterfall on a side-creek, which drops a couple of metres into a shallow pool, below flowing into the larger Douglas Creek.
As the Nandroya Falls Loop track continues along Douglas Creek, there’s a few more cascades that can be seen through the trees.
After about 1.5km from Nandroya Falls, the track leaves the creek as is starts to climbs up the valley. For the next two kilometres, the track mostly ascends as it makes a broad loop back to the junction with the shorter walking track. Just before I reach the carpark, I notice a couple of leeches just in time to flick them off as they make their way up my leg!
It’s taken me a little under two hours to complete the Nandroya Falls Loop – while the official length is 6.4km, I’ve recorded the total distance as 8.2km. If you’re planning to swim at the falls, allow three hours for the loop. In hindsight, I would also do the longer section first, so that you can enjoy a refreshing swim before the shorter leg back to the car or campsite. You can also have a swim after the bushwalk at the Henrietta Creek waterhole, just below the carpark and campground.
Getting to the Nandroya Falls Loop track
The Nandroya Falls Loop walking track starts at the western end of the Henrietta Creek Campground in the Wooroonooran National Park. The national park and trail is on the Palmerston Highway, which is about a 1:30min drive to the south of Cairns via the Bruce Highway.
This bushwalk is part of Waterfalls, Caves and Aboriginal Rock Art – the best day trips from Cairns