Location - Paluma Range National Park, Queensland, Australia
Difficulty - Grade 3, easy
Distance - Approximately 4 kilometres, return
Time - Allow 1-2 hours, one way
Gorge Falls and Rope Falls are both beautiful waterfalls located at the base of Mount Halifax in Paluma Range National Park. Both are becoming increasingly popular due to the ease of access and because both have plenty of nice places to relax and enjoy a refreshing swim in the inviting pools. You can definitely spend a fair bit of time at these falls, especially if you're hot and sweaty and in need of a cool dip in the water.
Much of the bushwalk throughout the lower altitudes is in or alongside a rocky, boulder-strewn jungle creek. You may also see some small gorges, waterfalls, and cascades along the way. However, during some parts of the year, there may be no flowing water in the creeks.
From Townsville, drive north for approximately 50 km along the Bruce Highway to the Balgal Beach turnoff. Before the Rollingstone Bridge, turn left (west) onto Pace Road. Then, drive until you reach a gate where you will also find the log book that is the sign-in point for the start of the hike. Park on the side of the road but outside of the gate. Vehicles are not to proceed through Pace's gate, as it demarcates private property. Also, be aware that there are no facilities.
Pace's Gate to Gorge Falls – 1.4 km, 20-30 minutes
Walk through the gate and along the dirt road beside fence line. The trail then turns into a cross-country, single-track and is easy walking. Before long, you emerge onto another dirt road. From here, take a right and follow it to the end. This was the original car park. From here, you will continue onto Gorge Falls via the rough walking track. There is also a swimming hole just below the gorge. Gorge Falls itself, however, also has a large swimming hole that is suitable for swimming throughout most of the year.
Gorge Falls to Rope Falls (elevation 174 metres) – 10 minutes
After the wet season, Rope Falls provides not only a beautiful waterfall but also a nice swimming hole. Enjoy a swim here before you go.
Most people jump from above the fall into the pool, however, some other cliff jump from the large rock adjacent to the creek (pictured above). Be sure to check the water for hazards and levels first.
Rope Falls to Loop Falls (elevation 261 metres) – 20-40 minutes
From Rope Falls, scramble up the right side of the rock face where you will find ropes in place to assist you. This section is an undulating hike on a track that ascends the left side of the valley that avoids the creek. Steep climb up until you reach the fork where taking the right fork will take you down to the creek and Loop Falls.
The trail then continues on to the summit of Mount Halifax via Bridal Falls.
As these trails become increasingly popular, we will need to be more diligent in practicing our Leave No Trace philosophy. Please take everything back home with you. If you find rubbish, please pick it up and hike it out. Let's take only photos (and other people's rubbish) and leave only footprints... and, of course, a cleaner environment.