Rainforest Walk In Main Range National Park – Cascades Walk

When camping at the Goomburra section of Main Range National Park, you have a choice of six walks. Some are easy while others are quite challenging. The Cascades Walk is somewhere in between… and an incredibly beautiful rainforest walk.

This walk is simply stunning.

After taking on the Ridge Track Walk our aching bodies needed something a little less challenging. While the Cascades Walk appeared to be longer, we decided to start out and see how far we felt like walking.

Like all walks in this rugged country, you have to expect some steep climbs. The fun part is the rock-hopping across Dalrymple Creek as you walk under a beautiful canopy of rainforest.

Map of the walks, Main Range National Park, including Cascades rainforest walk.
The walks in Main Range National Park. (Source: Queensland Government)

A Lost World

We decided to go clockwise. In this direction the walk follows Dalrymple Creek for ages. At least if we decided to turn back, then we would have seen the rainforest along the creek.

The Cascades rainforest walk criss-crosses over Dalrymple Creek as you make your way up the valley.
The Cascades rainforest walk criss-crosses over Dalrymple Creek as you make your way up the valley.

You start along the short Dalrymple Circuit walk, branching off left over the creek. From here to Cascade Falls, the track hugs closely to the creek. This is a narrow gully with impossibly steep slopes disappearing above you. Huge trees cling to the sides of the slopes and thick rainforest fills the gully with colour and rich damp smells.

Dalrymple Creek flows over black basalt rocks. Cascades rainforest walk.
Taking time to soak in this beautiful place.

Whilst the region was quite dry, we were fortunate to have a sprinkling of light rain to truly bring the rainforest alive. Just when you think this walk can’t possibly get more beautiful, you round a bend to be presented with pristine water tumbling over black basalt rocks… all under a canopy of ferns, palms, lichen and stag horns.

Disappearing into the rainforest on the Cascades rainforest walk.
Disappearing into the rainforest.

On a hotter day, you could easily be tempted to cool off. There’s quite a few deep pools where the crystal clear water is just so tempting! And keep an eye out for countless tadpoles in various stages of morphing into frogs.

Although speaking of tadpoles, National Parks ask that you don’t swim in the creek. It’s home to Fleay’s Barred Frog, a species on the brink. Any soaps, shampoos, sunscreens and so on are toxic to them.

There are many pristine pools in Dalrymple Creek. Cascades rainforest walk.
Dalrymple Creek is crystal clear.

This walk swallows you whole, urging you to move deeper into the bowels of this wild country. The gully sides become steeper, closing you in and surrounding you in an ancient lost world of rainforest. Our senses were overwhelmed with the sounds, smells and striking colours all around us.

Reminders Of The Past

Early in the walk there’s lots of tree stumps, a reminder of the logging days. Some of these stumps are massive. They’re remnants of majestic forest giants over 500 years old, cut down in less than a day.

Surprisingly, you’ll continue to see stumps. We couldn’t figure out how anyone could possibly drag a fallen tree out of this wild country. But if you look closely, you begin to see occasional tracks snaking down the seriously steep mountainsides. Some of these tracks are so steep we wondered how many bulldozer drivers met their maker here. And why would they go to so much trouble and expense? Maybe they were chasing the last of the big red cedar trees, who knows.

Enormous gum trees at the start of the Cascades rainforest walk.
With hardwood trees like these, it’s not surprising this area was once logged.

No matter what your opinion on old growth forest logging, you can’t help but admire the loggers’ bravery and tenacity in this forbidding country.

The rainforest has reclaimed and covered most of the scars from this era. However, it’s obvious where trees were felled. The understory had a rare chance to compete with the big trees and filled the gap with an impenetrable tangle of vines, scrub and weed species. Any gum seedlings which fell on this ground were doomed to be strangled and starved for sunlight.

The Falls

The track finally leaves Dalrymple Creek just after its confluence with another stream. You push up a steep track, following one of those crazy tracks left behind by the loggers. Then the walking track thankfully swings right and follows the ridge line around. All the while you’re still surrounded by magical rainforest.

Pretty soon you hear, then see Cascade Falls. They drop over the shiny black basalt rocks, tumbling down into the rainforest. The track winds up beside the Falls, joining another old forestry track at what appears to have been a logging camp.

Cascade Falls on the Cascades rainforest walk.
Cascade Falls.

From here it’s a gradual climb to where the Ridge Track Walk tumbles out of the mountains and joins the Cascades Walk back down the mountain to the campsite.

On Reflection

So we actually completed the Cascades Walk without really meaning to!

This delightful rainforest walk keeps drawing you on, deeper into the mountain. The Cascades Walk is absolutely sensational, one of the most beautiful walks we’ve ever done. By no means an easy walk, yet it’s so beautiful that you hardly notice the rugged terrain.

If you only have time to do one of the walks here, this is the one to do. Stunningly beautiful.

Main Range National Park is on Barunggam and Bundjalung Country.

For more QLD National Parks you can visit, go here.

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