Location - Paluma State Forest / Paluma Range National Park, North Queensland, Australia
Difficulty - Grade 4
Distance - 5-11 km return, depending on the route you take
Time - Allow 1-2 hour return, depending on the route you take
UPDATE 2020: Access to Forgotten Falls and Platypus Lagoon (Williams Creek) can also be done via the K-Traverse from Paluma Dam Road.
Forgotten Falls, also known as Surprise Falls, is located near the boundary of Paluma State Forest and Paluma Range National Park.
How to get there
There are two ways to access this area, via the K-Traverse from Paluma Dam Road (recommended) or via Hidden Valley. A car shuttle is required if you are planning on a through walk.
Via the K-Traverse (Paluma Dam Road)
Once you turn off onto Mount Spec Road, which you can access via the Bruce Highway, follow Mount Spec Road until you can turn onto Paluma Dam Road. After about 3.5 kilometres, you can park your car at the old rusty gate (-18.992904, 146.165886). Then, you can start this hike by walking along the K-Traverse, which used to be an old logging road.
Walk for about 4 kilometres until you reach the fork in the path (-18.989004, 146.137701). If you were to turn right, you'd remain on the K-Traverse. But, instead, continue toward the left side of the fork, which will take you down into William's Creek where, after about 600 metres or so, you will arrive at Platypus Lagoon.
From Platypus Lagoon, continue along the trail for another 700 or so metres to reach the base of Forgotten Falls.
Via Hidden Valley
Allow 1 hour and 15 minutes (non-stop) to drive to Paluma. From Paluma, head toward Hidden Valley, and then turn right onto Chicks Road. Drive for a few hundred metres before arriving at a chain gate/barrier. Park on the side of the road, and walk along the easy logging road north west. Do not drive vehicles, including motorbikes, any further than this point.
This track takes you for about 1.3 kilometres past an old saw mill where the sawdust is piled so high and thick that it smothers the ground such that nothing grows; it will take many years for the sawdust to breakdown. From the old saw mill site, the trail continues for another 1.3 kilometres and continues to narrow, just barely wide enough to accommodate quad bikes. Soon, you will cross a small, intermittent stream and then descend the slopes to the top of Forgotten Falls.
Once at top of the falls, you can relax and take in the view or continue to scramble down the rock face to the pool at the bottom. There, you can relax a bit more and even enjoy a refreshing swim. If you are feeling more adventurous, continue downstream, rock hopping to the junction with Williams Creek where a large and deep waterhole awaits you. Along the way, you will encounter a couple more swimming areas.
When compared to other creek walks around Townsville and the surrounding areas, this is not a hard bushwalk. However, the weather can be hot and humid. Be mindful of slippery rocks and the scrubby bushland if you are going off-track.
What to bring
- Food for the day
- 1 L of water (refill from creek, and bring supplies to sterilise your water)
- Hat, sunscreen, insect repellant, long-sleeved shirt, and trousers or shorts with gaiters to protect you from the sun and vegetation
- A change of clothes for trip home
Forgotten Falls is accessed via the state forest on the west side or via the national park from the east, and so permission from private property owners is not required. However, the continuation of Chicks Road is not a gazetted road; therefore, unauthorised vehicles beyond this point are restricted to emergency services.
As such, it is recommended to access Forgotten Falls and Platypus Lagoon from the K-Traverse via Paluma Dam Road.
- Forgotten Falls was a Townsville Bushwalking Club trip they often hiked yearly.
- In 2019, one of the nearby private property owners put a quad bike track in.
- In 2020, National Park volunteers (Wilfred Karnoll and company) as well as the Let's Walk Townsville group recut part of the K Traverse and a track to Forgotten Falls.