And while Airlie Beach may be best known as the gateway to the gorgeous Whitsunday National Park, it has some noteworthy surprises in store for those looking for some freshwater to rinse off the salt. One of the best is Cedar Creek Falls, located about 30km – or half an hour’s drive – inland.
That in itself is a gorgeous experience because it lets you soak up the vivid green landscape with its endless cane fields. If I’m honest, Midnight Oil’s This is Australia springs to mind as we roll past the manicured gardens, picturesque cattle, and the forested hills of the northern Great Dividing Range.
(Word to the wise, though, definitely don’t attempt to bring a caravan down this road.)
Cedar Creek Falls is a well-known spot thanks to its photogenic cascade, which varies from a single roaring stream in the wet to two gentle silvery falls in the dry. There’s a deep emerald pool at the bottom with shallower edges that make it appealing for swimmers of all ages, with water all year-round.
Whether you get the place to yourself or not depends on the day. On a recent visit over a public holiday weekend, there was a line of cars parked all the way up the hill. At a quick count, there were about 100 people enjoying a dip – however, there’s plenty of room for everyone to comfortably spread out.
There’s even more room if you seize the day and embrace a little adventure.
In the rainforest on the right side of the waterfall is a discreet but well-formed path that winds its way up through the boulders to the top of the waterfall. It only takes about 10 minutes to climb and it’s a great way to get a different perspective on the waterfall because it’s higher than you might think.
The first vantage point is just above the two main streams falling into the pool. However, if you continue up a bit further, you can stand above the upper tier and get a great overview of this part of the bush.
Even better, there are a couple of safe spots to enjoy your own private infinity pool.
There are a couple of things to note here. First, sandals or shoes (not thongs) are highly recommended, because they will protect your feet from abrasions and give you extra grip. Second, it’s really exposed with no shade, so it’s important to keep sun safety in mind – no one wants to return looking like a lobster.
Third, it’s definitely not safe to jump or dive from the top into the pool below.
However, if relaxing in the sun, enjoying a free natural back massage, breathing in lungfuls of natural rainforest air, and hanging out in a private freshwater oasis with your friends sounds appealing, this is 100 percent the spot to be. You can gaze over the beautiful cedar trees that give the waterfall its name while keeping an eye out for native birds and colorful butterflies and listening to the sounds of nature.
It’s also entirely possible to visit even if you’ve flown to the Whitsundays and don’t have a car.
Red Cat Adventures conducts tours from Airlie Beach to Cedar Creek Falls, where guides can tell you all about the region and help you get up and down from the top. There are a couple of different options, including day trips and multi-day tours. However, it’s hard to go past its award-winning three-day package that includes waterfalls, sailing, and a ThunderCat tour to Whitehaven beach.
There are lots of reasons to love Airlie Beach and the pristine beaches of the Whitsundays, but if you’re looking for a different way to experience this part of the world, don’t forget to look inland.
This article originally appeared on Escape and do not necessarily represent the views of australiaexploring.com