Formed by the North Johnstone River tumbing over an old lava flow, the Malanda Falls (or Tutamonlin as it was called by the Ngadjon-Jii,, the traditional Aboriginal owners of this area) is in the Atherton Tablelands Region in Far North Queensland. While the waterfall is only about a few metres high, it’s 30m in width.
The attaction is not so much the waterfall, but the man-made swimming pool below the falls. The pool was surveyed in 1906 and served as Malanda’s baths for many years; in the 1920s a diving board and retaining wall was added. The Malanda Falls Swimming Pool is listed on the Queensland Heritage Register as an early example of tourist infrastructure in North Queensland. It’s much less “natural” swimming hole than many other falls – but is easy to get to and a fairly safe swimming environment (except when the river levels is very high).
The river flows under a concrete walkway at the bottom of the pool, before entering the dense forest. There are two short (30min) bushwalks you can take through the surrounding remnant rainforest – you can also book a walk with a Ngadjon-Jii guide at the Visitor Information Centre.
Getting to Malanda Falls
Malanda Falls is about 1:15min south of Cairns, or about 20 minutes’ from Millaa Millaa (head north-west along State Highway 25 for 22.5km from Millaa Millaa until you reach the town of Malanda, then continue along the SH 25 for just over a kilometre). There is a large car park for the Malanda Falls Visitors Centre and the waterfall. You can visit this waterfall as part of a Waterfall Loop day trip from Cairns, which includes a number of waterfalls and swimming holes.
Best time to visit
While Malanda Falls is a permanent waterfall, the best time to visit is December to March, when the flow water is at its peak. I’ve seen reports that the pool can appear unclean in the dry season, when the water levels are lower.
- Qld Parks – Malanda Falls
Visit Waterfalls and Swimming Holes around Cairns and Far North Queensland for more spectacular falls and picturesque swimming holes.