Exploring the length of Ethel Creek

Ethel Creek waterfall is a hidden gem in the middle of Paluma Range National Park and you're very likely to be the only ones there.

Exploring the length of Ethel Creek

Location - Paluma Range National Park, North Queensland, Australia
Grade - 5
Distance - 12 km one-way from Mango Tree Carpark
Time - Allow 6-10 hours one way

Also see Cloudy Creek & Nolans Gully.

Ethel Creek is located behind the acreages to the west of Paluma and is accessible via the Paluma tracks or by walking from Mango Tree Car Park (a.k.a. the rock slides car park). Ethel Creek flows into Crystal Creek.

Benham's Creek was originally called Ethel Creek by the Benham brothers. Later, a surveyor erroneously gave the name Ethel Creek to a larger stream that joins Benham's Creek further north. An official decision was made in 1939 to rename the original Ethel Creek as Benham's Creek.

Ascending and descend Ethel Creek are both nice ways to enjoy the pretty, fairly easy off-track hike.

Ascending Ethel Creek via Spiegelhauer Rd

This trip is another cracking rock hop. Park your car at Mango Tree Car Park near the Nolan's Gully Rock Slides. Then, begin by walking along Intake Road at Big Crystal Creek. Pass through the gate, and continue along Intake Road until you reach a causeway (about half an hour); this is Ethel Creek. But, don't go all the way to Crystal Creek Intake. Instead, carefully rock hop your way up the creek to Ethel Creek Falls. When you reach a fork in the creek, keep to the right to stay in Ethel Creek, thus avoiding Cloudy Creek.

Intake Road, Paluma

As with all rock-hopping walks, you will step and jump from rock to rock, and you may even find yourself scrambling (i.e., climbing hand over hand) for brief periods of time. Sometimes you may retreat from the creek to avoid an obstacle, but generally Ethel Creek is a fantastic creek for this kind of adventure. So, you may find yourself remaining rock-hopping and scrambling through the creek the entire time. Keep in mind that sometimes descending can be a bit easier than going up the creek.

With this adventure, however, you are almost 100% guaranteed to enjoy lovely waterfalls and fantastic swimming-holes along the way.

Ethel Creek causeway

Since Paluma Township is upstream, it is highly recommended that you sterilise water from the creek before consuming. Also consider postponing your trip if rain is forecasted. Always take care when rock-hopping and scrambling in the rainforest; Paluma is one of those places that never really dries out, and the rocks will always be wet and slippery. Whenever the undergrowth is wet, leeches will be abundant. Apply insect repellent around your ankles before you begin your walk, and reapply after you swim. This will help prevent leeches and ticks, both of which can cause health issues if left unattended.

Abseiling down Ethel Creek Falls

There are no bolts at these falls. The only way to rappel, not that you would want to, would be via the two trees off to the right side of the falls. Then, the rappel would be approximately 15 metres.

Abseiling Ethel Falls
Ethel Falls - P.C. @aline.herzog8

What to take

  • Drinking water
  • Camera
  • Swimmers
  • Insect repellant

What to wear

Wear whatever clothing that allows you to move freely. Some people wear long-sleeved shirts, others don't; some people wear long trousers, while others wear shorts. It is up to you. Whatever you wear, however, it is key that you are able to move easily.


  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Photography
  • Optional abseiling; rappel down Ethel Falls into the refreshing water below
  • Meditation and yoga
  • Reading books and relaxing

Interactive Map

Here's an interactive map of the tracks and circuit. A suggested route is up Ethel Creek and down Cloudy Creek or down Nolans Gully.

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