Barron Falls is one of the largest waterfalls near Cairns, with close to 250 meters of cascading water forcing its way down the deep Barron Gorge.
You might have seen photos of Barron Falls with almost Niagra Falls-like force. However, this only occurs for a short period after heavy rainfall in the wet season. For much of the rest of the year, Barron Falls looks more like the pictures below.
Still, it’s an impressive waterfall with a very scenic short hike to the viewpoints. If you know where to go, you can also walk down to some swimming spots.
How to Get to Barron Falls From Cairns
Barron Falls is located in the Atherton Tablelands and is protected under the Barron Gorge National Park. To get here, you’ll need to take the 45-minute drive from Cairns.
Start on the Captain Cook Highway, heading north. Then, turn onto Kennedy Highway, which winds up the mountain through to Kuranda. Just past the small township of Kuranda, you’ll see signs indicating the way to the waterfall. This takes you down through some rainforest, onto Barron Falls road and eventually to the waterfall and walking trail carpark.
I’ve pinned the location of the waterfall carpark below to help you find it.
Barron Falls Tour – Self Guided Day-Trip From Cairns
If you don’t have your own car or transport, then it’s still possible to take a day-trip tour from Cairns. The tour below is the highest ranked and highest value tour that I could find. It won’t include a tour guide but includes all of the tickets and passes you’ll need.
The self-guided tour includes:
- Kuranda Scenic Railway Ticket – Traditional mountain train that goes through Kuranda and the tropical rainforest, including Barron Falls
- Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Ticket – Take the Cable Car just meters over the oldest rainforest in the world
- Pickup and drop off from your accommodation in Cairns.
TOTAL TRIP TIME: 7 hours
TRIP COST: Less than $140 AUD
While it might sound a little expensive, this Barron Falls and Kuranda tour is fairly decent value, since a return-ticket Skyrail Rainforest Cableway pass on its own will cost you about $82.
Depending on the season and weather patterns, Barron Falls is either a gentle giant or a forbidding beast. As you can probably see from the photos, there hadn’t been much rain and as a result, the flow was fairly tame. The average yearly flow is about 30 cubic meters per second.
The cascading waterfall is fed from the Barron River, which is one of the largest rivers near Cairns. It begins deep in mountains near Mount Hypipamee and empties into the Coral Sea.
WATERFALL HEIGHT: 250 meters
Barron Falls is still one of my favourite waterfalls near Cairns because of its size and the incredible viewpoint over the Barron Gorge.
I’ve written a complete guide to the waterfalls near Cairns. If you’re looking for more incredible places to explore, don’t miss the full guide.
READ THE FULL BLOG POST ON THE BEST WATERFALLS NEAR CAIRNS
Barron Falls Lookout Directions
If you drive to Barron Falls, then it’s a short but incredibly scenic walk through the rainforest to the Barron Falls Lookout. The walk is a raised boardwalk platform which allows you to look down onto the rainforest floor below.
After about 15 minutes, you’ll reach the Barron Falls Scenic Railway stop, where you’ll have some incredible views of the waterfall from across the gorge.
Lookout From the Scenic Railway
If you arrive at Barron Falls via the Scenic Railway, then you’ll be taken directly to the lookout area on the opposite side of the falls.
The Edge Lookout Barron Falls
Additionally, to the viewpoint above, the Skyrail Cablecar will take you over the gorge and stops at the Edge Lookout Barron Falls.
The Edge Lookout is a newly constructed lookout area in May 2019. It is a steel and glass structure which stretches out roughly 160 meters over the Barron Gorge. This allows you to look down onto the impressive waterfall from a see-through glass surface.
Barron Falls Swimming
You might be wondering “Can you swim at Barron Falls?” While you clearly can’t swim at the waterfall, it’s possible to take a swim a little further up the Barron River.
For Barron Falls swimming, we walked down Weir Road, which is on the left on the way to the Barron Falls lookout. At the end of this road, we turned right and walked along the railway to the large catchment area. Here there are some large rocks and small cliff jumps into deep water.
We didn’t even think about getting too close to the waterfall edge, as the flowing water can be extremely unpredictable, especially in the wet season. However, we did get some unique perspectives of the waterfall from above and behind.
KEEP IN MIND THAT SWIMMING AT THIS WATERFALL CAN BE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. I DON’T RECOMMEND THAT ANYONE SWIMS HERE. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS MONITOR CONDITIONS AND NEVER ENTER ANY WATER RAPIDS.
Cairns Accommodation Guide – Where to Stay
BEST BUDGET HOSTEL WITH A POOL FOR $19 A NIGHT – MAD MONKEY BACKPACKERS
The best budget backpacker option in Cairns is Mad Monkey Backpackers. This one has a swimming pool, AC, a complete kitchen and even free bike hire to take you around Cairns. There are also three locations across Cairns, but we thought that the village was the best.
BUDGET HOSTEL CLOSEST TO THE ESPLANADE FOR $26 A NIGHT – YHA CAIRNS CENTRAL HOSTEL
If you’re looking to stay close to Cairns center, then you can’t beat YHA Central. It’s only a 5-minute walk to the esplanade and situated right near pubs and supermarkets. There’s also a pool and two spas, with a free breakfast included.
SLEEP ON A BOAT IN CAIRNS HARBOUR – BOATEL CAIRNS
If you’re looking for a unique stay in Cairns, then you can’t get much more unusual than staying at a “boatel”. It’s located 1 KM from Cairns and only a 6-minute walk from Cairns Rainforest Dome. The boat has free WiFi, AC, a bar and even a TV in the room.
AIRBNB near Kuranda
Another great option for places to stay near Cairns is to use Airbnb. There are a few places to stay near Kuranda, which is as close as you’ll get to the waterfall.
MORE BARRON FALLS PHOTOS
Interested in checking out some more photos of this incredible waterfall? Unfortunately, the flow wasn’t too dramatic during my visit, but these were some that I managed to snap from the viewpoint and with the drone. Enjoy!