Cataract Creek in Lawson cascades over a series of rock ledges to form Federal Falls, at the base of which is a wide sandy area. (You can’t swim here – there’s a very shallow pool surrounded by sand.)
Originally named Hays Cascades, after Jose Hay who instigated the establishment of the South and North Lawson Parks. The waterfall was renamed in 1889 – over a decade prior to Australia’s federation – as a result of the Federal convention and the influence of Sir Henry Parkes.
The track from Junction Falls to Federal Falls was established in around 1898, and then extended to the Cataract Falls in 1900: “The trustees of the North and South Lawson Park have had a new track cut from the bottom of the Cataract Falls to the top of the Federal Falls. This new track passes through some of the best scenery yet opened in Lawson. It also opens up three small falls.” (Nepean Times, Sat 1 Sep 1900).
Getting to Federal Falls
Federal Falls is about 2.2km return from a signposted track at the bottom of Honour Avenue in Lawson, or part of the 4km South Lawson Waterfall Circuit that takes in five picturesque waterfalls. It’s best done after some decent rain. The start of the walk is 1.1km from Lawson railway station, which is 14km (15min drive) from Katoomba or 88km (1:15min) west of Sydney.
- Blue Mountains Heritage Register Review – South Lawson Park [PDF]