Amazing Waterfall Circuit Near Sydney – The Ultimate Guide

If you are a waterfall lover like myself and looking to seek an adventure, you probably think to yourself ‘where are some waterfalls near me?’. well if you are in Sydney, New South Wales (NSW) you will be happy to know that there is a waterfall circuit located in the most southern end of Sydney, leading into the Northern end of the Illawarra.

It features three amazing waterfalls – National Falls, Kellys Falls and Maddens Falls, which are a few of the best waterfalls in NSW to see. Adventuring to these picturesque waterfalls provides an awesome day out when travelling through either Sydney or further south in the Illawarra.

The best way to navigate through this Waterfall Circuit is to begin at National Falls in ironically the suburb Waterfall. You will then continue along Lady Wakehurst Drive in the Royal National Park towards Kellys Falls in Helensburgh, before continuing onto the Princes Highway leading you to Maddens Falls in Darkes Forrest.

If you prefer, then alternatively you can complete this circuit in reverse order, starting from Maddens Falls, however for the purpose of this guide we will begin at National Falls.

I have put together an Ultimate Guide to visiting this Waterfall Circuit Near Sydney, including how to arrive and get down and what to expect, for each Waterfall.

Map of Waterfall Circuit


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Arriving at National Falls

National Falls is situated on the most southern point of Sydney in The Royal National Park, about 47km (50 minutes) South from Sydney CBD and 47km (36 minutes) North from Wollongong CBD.

By far the best way to get to National Falls is by vehicle. After driving down or up the Princes Motorway, you will turn off into McKell Avenue. After driving Passed Waterfall Train station and entering the Royal National Park, continue driving for five more minutes. You will reach a small carpark on the side of the road along the bend to park your vehicle.

How to get to the Waterfall

The walk down to National Falls is very quick and easy. At the end of the carpark you will see a set of wooden stairs for you to walk down leading to a short bush track, whereby within only one minute you will reach the fence at the bottom.

If you are comfortable to do so, climb over the fence if you wish to walk onto the rocks and towards the waterfall.

What to expect at National Falls

While you cannot swim or dunk yourself under these falls, National Falls is incredibly relaxing and picturesque, perfect for sitting down, chilling and admiring its flow and the surrounding nature.

Just further down from the falls, towards the cliff face, offers you a stunning spot to sit down, maybe have a picnic and admire an incredible view over the valley through the Royal National Park. Be careful not to sit too close to the edge though, as the drop down to the bottom section of National Falls is very high.

By far the best feature of National Falls though is an off track, which you can enter from the bottom of the wooden stairs, which takes you into a cave-like spot behind the Waterfall.


Arriving at Kellys Falls

The next stop is Kellys Falls. Continue Driving down McKell Avenue and onto Lady Wakehurst Drive. From here you will continue driving through the Lush, beautiful and Historic Royal National Park for about 15km.

After driving through Stanwell Tops and upon entering Helensburgh, you will turn right, just before Walker street. Continue along this narrow road for one minute until you reach the Kellys Falls Picnic area and main carpark.

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How to get to the Waterfall

The trail down to Kellys Falls from the carpark is fairly steep and can be tricky and unsafe if not treaded with caution.

At the start, enter the bush track on the right (Princess Marina Track). After 100m, you will reach a fence. Just before that fence is a small opening into a pathway which wraps around towards a bunch of rocks. After treading down these rocks, you will reach a rock platform with a ladder to climb down.

From here, follow the fairly steep bush track down for a further few hundred metres until eventually it leads you to the bottom of Kellys Falls.

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What to expect at Kellys Falls

Kellys Falls is the swimming waterfall of the circuit, and is arguably one of the best swimming waterfalls in NSW. It is a large waterfall, boasting a whopping 48-metre single drop, which has a nice consistent flow into a pristine pool, perfect for a refreshing swim in the cool fresh water.

However, there is more to Kelly Falls than just swimming. There are plenty of rocks around the water to sit, chill, eat (remember to clean up your rubbish), admire the attractive waterfall or even sun bake. There are even plenty of trees if you wish to set up a hammock.

Arriving at Maddens Falls

Your final stop at the waterfall circuit is Maddens Falls, which is only about a 10 minute drive from Kellys Falls.

Make your way up to the Princes Highway (do not turn onto the motorway) and follow the road towards Darkes Forrest. Take a right onto Darkes Forrest Rd and continue driving for about a few minutes. You will eventually reach a patch of dirt on your left which is the carpark for 10z Trail, the main track eventually leading you to Maddens Falls.

How to get to the Waterfall

The track down to Maddens Falls is very short and easy. Start off by walking down the bush track (10z Trail) for a few minutes until you reach the bottom. Eventually the track connects to Maddens Falls Track, which is part bush track and part metal track. In three-five minutes you will arrive at the end, which is a look out overseeing the pristine Maddens Falls.

If you wish to get closer to the falls, just before the lookout is a small opening through the bushes which leads onto the rocks.

In order to get to the next level down and under a section of the falls, you will need to cross the water at the top and head to the other side of the rocks. You will then need to climb down and make your way through the bushes towards the edge (Extreme safety caution is required here and should only be attempted if you are an experienced hiker).

What to expect at Maddens Falls

Maddens Falls is a highly picturesque waterfall, perfect for viewing from the lookout platform. The platform also overlooks a stunning view through Maddens Plains.

The top of Maddens Falls also offers plenty of small water holes to cool off, and plenty of spots along the rocks, to sit and chill, enjoy the sun and even a lovely picnic.

While you cannot swim at Maddens Falls, if you do choose to head down the bottom of the Falls, you can enjoy a refreshing shower under the far left section of the Falls. However, please take extreme caution as the rocks can be slippery upon approaching the water.

After successive days of rain, you can expect this waterfall to truly come to life with an arena-like display of water rushing over the entire width of the rock face. It is truly an incredible sight to see.

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More Guides

For years I have been adventuring to some of the most incredible places nature has to offer. From locations in my own backyard, to epic road trips, all the way to breathtaking travel destinations.

The goal of my blog is to ultimately inspire you to step outside of your comfort zone to get outdoors and immerse yourself in so much that mother nature has to offer.

You can check out my most recent blogs by clicking the links:

Final Word On This Amazing Waterfall Circuit

I hope this waterfall guide finds you well and helps you plan a fun and thrilling day chasing some of the best waterfalls near Sydney. From experience, given I visit these three waterfalls near me a lot, they never fail to disappoint. If you have any questions regarding this waterfall circuit, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment below or contact me.

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