Scouting for Something Special

By David Moase

Scouts Falls, north of Coffs Harbour near Glenreagh, is only about 22km from where I live as the crow flies (thanks to Pythagoras for helping me with that one), either 32km or 44km by road depending on which way you travel, with either route taking about 40 minutes.

Exploring Your Own Backyard

Not too far away, but after nearly two decades living on the Coffs Coast I had never been there. Heck, until about five years ago I hadn’t even heard of it, so with the “holiday at home” message dominating as COVID-19 keeps travel options limited, we decided to make the trek to see for ourselves what has been described as a hidden gem.

Like any well-preserved natural treasure, this one doesn’t give up its location easily, which is why it is not overrun by visitors. The drive is easy enough, with the 5km trip via Glenreagh meaning only a short stretch of unsealed road. Approaching from Corindi, through the rising hills along Sherwood Creek Road means much more gravel to negotiate but it is well maintained and safe.

It is when you park near the new bridge across Middle Creek (a tributary of the Orara River), cross the road and head past the sign for the Sherwood Nature Reserve for the 20-minute trek to the falls that the challenge begins.

A Worthwhile Adventure

The path is a scramble up and down banks and rocks, over (and sometimes under) tree roots, balancing along ledges. It’s not for everyone but that is what makes visiting the falls a worthwhile adventure. The day we went, we ran into a family at the falls that included a toddler who was carried in one arm by mum or dad, and they seemed to have few problems so most people should be able to negotiate their way.

For those who don’t want to do the whole path, there is a pretty plunge pool not far from the start where you can relax and soak in the clear, cool water.

Past that pool, the path criss-crosses the creek bed as you hop across the top of boulders smoothed by the flowing stream over the centuries. Just where the path goes can be confusing in parts – there are no signs – but there is always the sound of the falls ahead to give you a target. The path is the only way in or out so, if you’re lucky, walkers coming the other way will give you a guide of where to head.

Wide shot of Scout Falls

Behold, Scout Falls!

Finally, just as your legs start to burn and the humid summer air has you craving cool relief, it’s up and down a few massive rocks before the beauty of Scouts Falls is there before you – water cascading 10 metres into a large pool that allows you to stand in most parts but drops away in the centre. It is surrounded by the cliff face on one side, a large fallen log on a 45-degree angle into the water and plenty of rocks where you can sit and soak in the scenery before splashing in for another swim. There are even rocks directly under the falls where you can stand for a bush shower.

It is a stunning place to spend part of any summer day – there are no facilities so you probably won’t want to stay more than an hour or two – and the challenge of the access means it is unlikely to be ever overcrowded.

The view from the top of the falls is said to be special and three young men who arrived while we were swimming made the climb up and along the cliff ledges look easier than it probably is.

We decided to leave that climb and the view from the top for another day – it certainly won’t be two decades until we return to this special place.

QUICK TIP: If you want to see a waterfall while you are in the Coffs Coast’s northern beaches area but don’t fancy the trek to Scouts Falls, take the short drive west of Woolgoolga to the Woolgoolga Creek picnic area from where you can walk the much easier 3.6km return trip through the Sherwood Nature Reserve to the scenic Woolgoolga Falls.

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