A complete waterfall guide to visiting Josephine Falls from Cairns. Find out how to get here, what to expect and how to make the most of your trip to this excellent freshwater swimming spot.
Josephine Falls is a scenic rainforest waterfall flowing on a beautiful rainforest creek within the Wooroonooran National Park. This quaint waterfall and swimming spot is a local favourite and definitely one that everybody should check out during their visit to Tropical North Queensland.
In this quick waterfall guide, I aim to answer all of your questions about visiting Josephine Falls from Cairns. I’ll explain how to get here, what to expect and include photos that I hope will inspire your trip!
Where is Josephine Falls
Josephine Falls is located within the Wooroonooran National Park, approximately 1 hour (75 kilometres) south of Cairns. Below is the correct google maps pin for the car park providing access to the falls.
The waterfall is fed by the rain captured by Queensland’s tallest mountain, Mount Bartle Frere, which rises to 1622 metres above the waterfall. In fact, Josephine Falls shares the same car park as the trailhead to this rainforest peak!
An Organised Trip: Josephine Falls From Cairns
Unfortunately, there aren’t any public transport options to get to Josephine Falls from Cairns. However, there are some high-quality and reputable tours which include a stop here.
For those with limited time but want to check out some of the best waterfalls in Cairns and the tropical north, then I highly recommend checking out the below options.
Full-Day Josephine Falls & Atherton Tablelands Tour: Check price here
Budget Josephine Falls & Waterfall Swimming Tour: Check price here
How to Get to Josephine Falls (Self-Drive Option)
Unfortunately, there aren’t any public transport options heading this far south of Cairns. This means that the only way to reach the waterfall from Cairns is to book one of the trips above or drive.
Directions: The journey to Josephine Falls is 75 kilometers southwest of Cairns on the Bruce Highway. Head towards “Bartle Frere”, turning off on Bartle Frere Road. Follow this road to the end and keep going when it forks to the left (now Price Road).
Next, continue on this road as it cuts through the cane plantations and turn right when you see the signs for the waterfall car park (Josephine Falls Road).
It should take roughly one hour to reach the car park from Cairns.
There is a large carpark here with adequate parking space for over 25 vehicles. It also has several facilities, including a shelter, toilets, picnic tables and coin-operated BBQs.
The Josephine Falls Track
Once you reach the car park, it’s only a short 700-meter walk on a sealed rainforest track separating you from the waterfall.
The track follows sealed bitumen all the way up to the main waterfall, with turn-offs to the Middle Creek viewing platform and the bottom pool. Just below is a map showing the Josephine Falls track for a better idea of the swimming hole and viewing platform locations.
Since this waterfall and swimming hole is a popular spot for both locals and visitors to Cairns, you can expect a few people on the track. This is especially true on weekends!
Josephine Falls is a series of cascading waterfalls with 3 main drops. The largest waterfall at Josephine Falls is at the end of the track and visitors can admire it from a wide wooden platform named “top viewing platform”.
While not the tallest waterfall in the area, the main waterfall is still an impressive sight. It drops 25 metres down a sharp gully before spilling over a large, wide boulder.
Unfortunately, swimming at the largest waterfall is forbidden as this entire pooled area is classified as restricted. But don’t stress, there are plenty of great swimming holes at Josephine Falls, just a little earlier on the track (closer to the car park)
Swimming Holes & The Waterfall Rock Slide
A little before the main waterfall, there is a sign indicating access to the river. This is known as the Big Pool, and is where you will find the best Josephine Falls swimming holes and even a rock slide!
The main pool is a dreamy shade of aquatic green and is deep enough to swim in (roughly 1.5 metres). There’s also a natural rock slide here which you have to try.
There are also several smaller swimming holes along the creek. So, if the main pool and rock slide is too busy for you, head a little downstream to find some isolated and secluded rainforest secluded swimming holes!
Deaths in Dangerous Flow
In the wet season, the flow can get very unpredictable. Unfortunately, there have been several deaths at this waterfall due to submerged rocks and dangerous current.
There are several warning signs and river depth alarms, so it’s best to be cautious. If you’re concerned, you can check current warnings for all parks here.
Cairns Accommodation Guide – Where to Stay
Planning a trip to Cairns and wondering where to base yourself? Below I’ve listed some of the best options near Cairns Esplanade. I’ve also written a comprehensive accommodation guide to Cairns, so make sure to check that out too before you book!
Also, if you’re looking to stay in Port Douglas, I’ve got some tips on finding great accommodation deals there too.
LUXURY RESORT WITHOUT THE PRICE TAG – Rydges Resort
This hotel offers the best bang-for-buck. In terms of an epic stay for a decent price! The location is perfect, close to the esplanade and features include three swimming pools, two tennis courts, a jacuzzi, a fitness centre and even an award-winning restaurant.
BEST 5-STAR LUXURY HOTEL: Pullman Reef Hotel Casino
If luxury and location are what you’re after, you can’t beat the Pullman. It’s rated Cairns’ best hotel and features restaurants, a pool, live music gigs and even a casino! If nightlife is your thing, don’t go past this one.
STAY ON THE ISLANDS: Fitzroy Island Resort
If you’d rather sleep out on one of the picturesque Great Barrier Reef Islands, look no further than the Fitzroy Island Resort. While you can get out here on a day trip, I highly recommend spending the night so you get more time to explore the reef, coral beaches and rainforest walking trails.
BEST BUDGET HOSTEL WITH A POOL – Gilligan’s Backpackers
The best backpacker option for a great vibe in Cairns is Gilligan’s Backpackers. That’s because this one has a swimming pool, AC, a complete kitchen and a great common area to meet other travellers.
More Far North Queensland Adventure Guides
Find this short guide to visiting Josephine Falls from Cairns useful? I’ve spent a long time covering many of the epic things to do around Cairns. You’ll find loads more waterfalls, hikes, lookouts and more on my blog. Below are a few to start off with!