This is the first section of a 13.5km bushwalk from Lawson to Hazelbrook in the Blue Mountains, which passes nine waterfalls and two swimming holes: the South Lawson Waterfall Circuit, with its five waterfalls, is a popular 4km loop.
I’m starting near Lawson Oval, making the first section of the South Lawson Waterfall Circuit a little underwhelming as it follows a paved track that traverses the South Lawson Parklands. The park was gazetted as a reserve on 22 August 1876 and proclaimed as a Public Park on 16 August 1888, and is historically significant as “an example of a recreation reserve developed by local trustees over a period of about 30 years”.
The path continues through the park for about 500m, before reaching the junction with a bushwalking track which crosses Lawson Creek below a small cascade.
I soon reach the normal starting point for the South Lawson Waterfall Circuit, which is on Honour Avenue in Lawson. The path descends with a few steps down towards the base of Adelina Falls.
A very short, sign-posted side track leads to Adelina Falls. The track to the bottom of the falls was completed between 1885 and 1895.
Like all the waterfalls along the South Lawson Waterfall Circuit, the picturesque Adelina Falls is best visited after some decent rain. Lawson Creek drops about 15m onto rocks above a very shallow pool, in a rainforest setting. (Like almost the waterfalls aloong this circuit, the name of the waterfall was changed for a while in the 1880, before reverting to their original names – which are still in use.)
Once back on the Waterfall Loop, the landscape quickly changes from semi-reinforest to dry sclerophyll forest as the track follows Lawson Creek downstream. There’s a few more small cascades (not marked on the map) along the creek.
It’s a very pleasant walk along a good track which gently descends along the creek.
After about 0.6km from Adelina Falls, there’s a steep descent before the next waterfall is reached.
Junction Falls is just above the junction of Lawdon Creek, and Ridge Creek – hence its name.
The track crosses Lawson Creek via a timber bridge just below the waterfall (I discovered after doing this walk that the next section of track was officially closed – but didn’t see any signage, and the track is in good condition). It’s only about 300m to the junction of the short side-track that leads to the base of Federal Falls.
Named a full decade before federation, Federal Falls (originally called the Hays Cascades) reflects the enthusiasm for Australia’s federation. It’s another picturesque waterfall, in a beautiful shaded spot.
After returning the short distance back to the main track, I leave the formal track and head down Cataract Creek to where it meets Lawson Creek, and then follow Lawson Creek downstream. There’s not really any trail to the next waterfall – although a track was established along the creek in the 1890s.
The only evidence now of a track is that someone has placed a rope near the top of the falls, where there is one narrow and slippery ledge that needs to be traversed, before the last descent to the base of the falls.
Leslie Falls is the my favourite waterfall so faralong the South Lawson Waterfall Circuit: although it’s only about three metres high, the wide waterfall drops into a deep pool that would make a great swimming spot – on a warmer day!
It’s back the same way (although you could continue downstream to the Willawong Pool, where I’ll be in a few hours time…) and up a set of stairs which ascends above Cataract Creek.
I pass an old, derelict lookout which is overgrown, and doesn’t offer any views (it probably offered a view of the top of Federal Falls before vegetation obscured the outlook). The track follows Cataract Creek fairly closely, crossing it near a small cascade.
Cataract Creek is never too far away, and the track is mostly shaded and very pleasant bushwalking as it ascends.
The last waterfall requires another short, signposted side-track that passes under a long rock overhang.
This is the tallest waterfall along the South Lawson Waterfall Circuit, and from the base of the falls you can see the upper drop of Cataract Falls well above smaller, lower drop.
The track continues up towards Honour Avenue, passing the more open upper tier of Cataract Falls.
After more steps, the bushwalking trail reaches a firetrail: turning left takes you to Honour Avenue, which would be the usual end (or start) of the 4km South Lawson Waterfall Circuit.
I turn right onto the firetrail, to continue my Lawson to Hazelbrook Waterfall Walk though the Terrace Falls Reserve – where the waterfalls and scenery are even more spectacular…
Getting to the South Lawson Waterfall Circuit
The usual start and end points of the South Lawson Waterfall Circuit are along Honour Avenue in Lawson (a 400m section along Honour Avenue completes the loop). You can also access the bushwalk from Lawson Oval through the South Lawson Parklands. If coming by train, both the Honour Avenue and Lawson Oval trailheads are about 1.1km from Lawson railway station. Lawson is about 14km (15min drive) from Katoomba or 88km (1:15min) west of Sydney
Note: the South Lawson Waterfall Circuit is a Moderate grade if you include Leslie Falls, which requires an off-track section, or Easy if you skip this waterfall.
- Blue Mountains Heritage Register Review – South Lawson Park [PDF]