Location - Wooroonooran National Park, Far North Queensland, Australia
Difficulty - Grade 4, on-track
Distance - Approximately 14 km return
Time - Allow 6 hours return
Start/Finish - Golden Hole
Wankaroo Falls is located in Wooroonooran National Park and takes you along a single-file rainforest trail for approximately 5 hours and covers 14 km (the same distance as Windin Falls). There are a number of small creek crossings before arriving, where you take a left downstream. The final access to the base is a steep drop down a lightly trafficked trail (be careful around the cliffs) and then a small walk back up to the base. Wankaroo Falls is the wet season has two streams flowing over the top and a large pool at the bottom, perfect for a refreshing dip to replenish your spirits.
Starts at the Golden Hole car park. The track is well-marked and easy to follow with a few detours to see the Russel River along the way, including Chinaman's Beach.
You will find king ferns and black bean trees within this dense rainforest.
Note that the trail continues past Wankaroo Creek to what modern hikers call "Avatar Tree", a giant fig tree, and to Water Race Falls, named after the gold miners. However, to go to Wankaroo Falls, you need to turn left off the main track at some ribbons around the 7km mark.
It's fairly deep under the falls and provides a great swimming area to relax and recover. The track is undulating with the final descent to the bottom of the main falls being the hardest part and can be unsafe if wet and slippery. There are a few creek crossings along the way. There is plenty of wait-awhile along the way as well as other plants such as stinging trees. This walk may not be suitable for everyone.
In addition to its natural beauty, the area has cultural and spiritual significance for the Indigenous people of the region. The rainforests and waterfalls are part of their traditional lands, and many of the sites within the area hold spiritual and cultural importance. This track actually follows an old songline that linked the Bora Grounds via Wankaroo Falls and Moochoopa Falls. The area is known as Towalla / Towalla Crossing by locals (from Innisfail to Babinda). It was then adopted by the early gold miners and evidence of this can be seen in the names such as Chinaman's Beach and Water Race Falls - both of which were home to the early Chinese during the gold rush.
The walking track was initially the main 'highway' to the tablelands in that area not only for the local Aboriginal tribes but then for early European settlers as well. It also was a mining area. There was a track across the other side of the river which lead to the old mining township of Towalla in the tablelands. That track hasn't been used due to cyclone damage etc. Locals did know the track as Chinaman's Track initially. And yes all the water races there at Towalla Crossing are from the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was a very busy area 20 years ago due to school camps and it's the gateway to the Upper Russell.
Leave No Trace
As these trails become increasingly popular, we will need to be more diligent in practising 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.
- Estuarine crocodiles can be found in and around Golden Hole.
- Be cautious of cassowaries
- Navigational skills are required. Since it's a remote area, it's a good idea to accompany your GPS unit with a map and compass.
- A first aid kit and PLB are mandatory.
- This hike is for experienced hikers only.
This article, and all other articles, are for entertainment purposes only and are not to be used as a guide. Please see our Disclaimer for more information.