We think that the great outdoors is one of the most stimulating environments that children will encounter. All of their senses are ignited by the experience, whether it’s smelling the fresh air, listening to the wind through the trees or feeling the wonderful textures of rocks and trees. An absolute favourite outdoor activity amongst families in our region is a day of chasing waterfalls - the look on the little ones faces as they watch seemingly endless amounts of water pour down before their eyes is priceless. (To be fair, most adults are pretty impressed by this as well!) Let us help you plan your family-friendly adventure with our list of the Shoalhaven's very best waterfalls, compiled in partnership with the experts at South Coast Kids.
Granite Falls Lookout, Morton National Park
Granite Falls is a 63-metre-high waterfall that runs down the sloping granite rock face into the valley below and is a short easy walk from the carpark. Just over a 1km return journey through stunning eucalyptus forest, the trail is marked with interpretative signs that highlight the history of the area, with key notes about local flora and fauna. The walk is suitable for small children but just be aware that there are several stairs once you reach the lookout. The lookout itself is a large fenced platform suspended over the falls and is a great place to stop for a rest or snack on the seats. To add an extra activity to your day, once you get back to the car, drive back to lookout turnoff and follow the signs for approximately 2km along 12 Mile Road to George Boyd Lookout. There are toilets and a picnic area here adjacent to the carpark. The lookout is reached by a 1km return trail through the rainforest, taking you to a short climb up a ladder where you will get uninterrupted views of the Shoalhaven coastline.
Tianjara Falls Lookout
For a short and easy walk to a waterfall, opt for Tianjara Falls Lookout. Located in West Nowra, the lookout is just a few hundred metres from the carpark, making it a really great stop for families with young children. Tianjara falls are created by water from the Yarramunmun Creek dropping off sandstone cliffs and into the valley below. There is a small, fenced platform that gives a great view of the falls in addition to amazing scenery of Morton National Park and the Ettrema Wilderness. If the kids are feeling brave, there's a section of the platform that offers views right below your feet through the metal grate and is best viewed after periods of rain – a little daunting for some but a very cool experience! The cliff faces are also well-known climbing spots, so keep an eye out for some adventurous people up on the rocks, which is sure to be a little treat for the kids. Tianjara Falls is located approximately 35km west of Nowra via Nerriga Road. Follow Nerriga Road until you see the signpost for the Falls on the left-hand side of the road. The road is sealed all the way to the turn-off but please note that there are no facilities at the lookout.
Telegraph Creek Nature Trail (Green Patch, Booderee National Park)
The Jervis Bay area never ceases to amaze the team at South Coast Kids! It’s truly magnificent and there’s a natural wonder at every turn. This easy, short and kid-friendly loop track is no exception! What makes this such a special little adventure are the creek crossings – children just love walking across the fern-lined creeks and swamps, sometimes even spotting foraging crayfish on their way past. The trail meanders through woodland, heath and other various types of vegetation that will certainly pique the entire family's interest. Signposts throughout the walk describe birdlife and plants, including how the flora was useful to local Aboriginal communities. There's also seating available on the walk if little feet require a little rest – but South Coast Kids recommend taking a break on a lovely, wooden bridge over the creek. The kids will never want to leave! Head towards St Georges Basin and Green Patch can be accessed off Jervis Bay Road, near Jervis Bay Village. The trail begins at the northern end of the Green Patch car park, is 2.4-kilometres long and takes roughly one hour to complete.
Belmore Falls, Morton National Park
Let's get some technicalities out of the way first - Belmore Falls viewing spots are technically in the Southern Highlands but this ridgeline makes up the border between our two South Coast regions and the water actually falls into the Shoalhaven! This waterfall is easily accessed by visitors staying in our northern reaches, the closest town being Kangaroo Valley. The Belmore Falls walking track is located about half an hour from the centre of town and offers not only a waterfall, but there's also no shortage of lookouts, sensational southern highland vistas, sandstone flora views. It is a 1.8km return journey and we suggest allowing about 30 minutes to an hour for this adventure. The walk starts at the Hindmarsh Lookout carpark, with a magnificent view of Kangaroo Valley. Follow the signs around the escarpment to several lookouts, the last of which provides views of the waterfall. Typical sandstone flora is a special feature of this walk, including flowers such as honey flower, banksia, wattle and tea-tree. (Image is courtesy of Australian Geographic.)
In a similar vein to Belmore Falls, Fitzroy Falls also lies in the Southern Highlands - but we do love supporting our South Coast neighbours! This beautiful waterfall is located in Morton National Park, an easy drive away from Kangaroo Valley too and features great facilities, making it an excellent stop for families. With water that drops more than 80 metres, it's an awe-inspiring sight that will have the entire family fixated for a long time! You’ll find plenty of parking at the Fitzroy Falls Visitor Centre, which has a cafe, souvenir shop, and information on local Aboriginal history and wildlife in the park. From the visitor centre, there’s a short wheelchair-accessible boardwalk to scenic views of the plunging waterfall. Enjoy sweeping views across Kangaroo Valley from Manning lookout, which is eight minutes’ drive southeast of the Fitzroy Falls Visitor Centre. The lookout on the sandstone escarpment is a short walk through bushland from the free carpark.