Morans Falls is one of the best waterfalls to explore on the Gold Coast which can be reached via an easy walking trail that takes around 20-30 minutes each way.
Located in the Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park, Morans Falls is an awe-inspiring plunge waterfall that is not to be missed when visiting the Gold Coast hinterland.
In this guide, I have included useful information on how to get here, the best time to visit, and what to expect when you arrive.
Also, at the bottom of this blog post, you will find my recommendations on where to stay in Lamington National Park, a list of fun-fuelled Gold Coast tours, and links to more of my Gold Coast travel guides that you might like to check out!
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WHERE IS MORANS FALLS?
Morans Falls is located in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests in Lamington National Park, South East Queensland.
From the main tourist hub on the Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise, it’s approximately a 1.5-hour drive to reach Lamington National Park. From the southern end of the Gold Coast, Coolangatta, the journey time is around 1-hour and 40 minutes.
If you are based in Brisbane and wish to visit from here, the journey time is approximately 2-hours.
HOW TO GET HERE
There is no public transport to access Lamington National Park so you will need to have your own vehicle to visit.
The road leading out to Lamington National Park is unbelievably scenic with a few lookout points along the way that are clearly signposted and worthy of stopping at to take a quick photo.
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LAMINGTON NATIONAL PARK TOURS
Alternatively, you can book a tour to Lamington National Park departing from either Brisbane or Gold Coast which includes return transfers from your hotel, a tour of Lamington National Park and its waterfalls, breathtaking views on the O’Reilly’s Treetop Walk, and much more!
Sunset at Morans Waterfall
The falls lookout
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Morans Waterfall is quite a popular tourist attraction and it can get quite busy on the weekends. If you can time your visit for a weekday, you will get to enjoy this beautiful location with fewer people.
The best time to visit, in my opinion, is between 3 pm and 6 pm for sunset. This is the time which I visited and due to its west-facing position, you’ll get to witness incredible colors fill the valley as the sun sets over nearby mountain ranges.
Do note that if you visit at sunset, you’ll most likely have to walk back to the parking lot in the dark so be prepared and pack a torch.
If sunset doesn’t appeal to you, visiting at any time during the day is just as good.
If you are planning to spend an entire day exploring Lamington National Park, I recommend pre-packing a lunch and plenty of drinking water before heading up the mountain. There is only one cafe which is O’Reilly’s Mountain Cafe, though their menu can be quite expensive if you’re on a tight budget.
RELATED ARTICLE → 3 DAY GOLD COAST ITINERARY
Waiting for the sunset
ARRIVING AT LAMINGTON NATIONAL PARK
There are two different entry points to access Moran Falls, one is located at the jump-off point for Python Rock (about 1km before O’reilly’s Rainforest Retreat) and the other trailhead is located near the main parking lot at O’Reilly’s Mountain Cafe.
Both jump-off points have free car parking spaces available and the trailheads are clearly signposted.
There are also toilet amenities and picnic areas next to O’reilly’s Mountain Cafe which you can make use of before and after your adventure.
Great spot to perch up
THE SHORTCUT TRAIL
Most visitors don’t know this, but there is a shortcut trail to reach Morans Falls which takes around 20-30 minutes each way and I recommend taking this trail if you are pressed for time.
Follow the signposts which are located on the opposite side of the parking lot to where O’Reilly’s Cafe is. Walk for 2 minutes till you come to a driveway on your left-hand side which is the entrance to O’reilly’s Lost World Spa. You will see a boom gate with a stop sign on it but you can simply walk around the gate by taking the passenger pathway on the right-hand side.
The road is quite steep here so please take your time walking down. You will then come to a fork in the road and see another sign with an arrow pointing left to the Villas Conference Center and Day Spa, and an arrow pointing right to O’reilly’s Staff Vehicles Only – Hiker’s Welcome. Turn right at the fork when you see this sign.
The main parking lot at O’Reilly’s
Signpost at the end of the parking lot
Shortcut entrance to Moran Falls
Turn right at this fork in the road
Continue walking downhill for another 5 minutes or so and you will see another sign for Morans Falls (450m) and Hidden Gully (80m). If you’re up for a quick detour, follow the 80m trail down to Hidden Gully to where you will find some wooden seating nestled beneath the rainforest canopy where you can take a moment to rest.
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Look for this signpost
Hidden Gully Lamington National Park
After you’ve checked out the Hidden Gully, head back on the same trail till you reach the road again, continue down the road for 100m and you will see another sign for Morans Falls (300m) on your right-hand side. Take this trail which runs parallel with Morans Creek and down to the falls.
Be mindful that this shortcut trail can be muddy and slippery when wet, and there are a couple of small creek crossings along the way. Be sure to wear a good pair of walking shoes or boots.
The trailhead to Moran Falls
THE TRAIL FROM PYTHON ROCK
If you don’t wish to take the shortcut to the falls from O’Reilly’s Cafe, the other trailhead is located at the entrance to Python Rock lookout, about 1km down the road from the cafe.
This trail is a little longer with a 6.2km return trip that takes around 45-minutes each way. It’s a nice and peaceful walk through the Gondwana Rainforest and it’s reasonably flat making it suitable for everyone.
It doesn’t matter where you begin the hike down to the falls, whether you head down the shortcut trail or you decide to take the longer trail from the Python Rock entrance. Both trails will take you to the lookout points and also to the plunge pool at the top of the falls.
The trail is a combination of tar-sealed pathways and dirt trails that will lead you through the lush Gondwana Rainforest that makes up Lamington National Park.
RELATED ARTICLE → 5 BEST SPRINGBROOK WATERFALLS
Parking lot at Python Rock entrance
Trailhead at Python Rock entrance
Follow this signpost
MORANS FALLS LOOKOUT
There are two lookout points that offer incredible views of the falls themselves and also the mountainous hinterland region to the west of Lamington National Park.
One is called the Morans Falls lookout and the other is called the Moran Falls clearing.
Both Moran Falls viewpoints are worthy of stopping at for a few minutes to let the beauty of the surrounding natural landscapes soak in. Oh, and be sure to have your camera at the ready as you’ll want to take some happy snaps at these epic viewpoints.
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View from the lookout
Signpost for the lookout
Moran Falls clearing
MORAN FALLS PLUNGE POOL
The plunge pool is what makes this location so unique compared to most other waterfalls on the Gold Coast. Morans Creek flows calmly down the mountainside and creates a natural infinity pool at the top of an enormous cliff face that drops down into a densely rainforested valley.
To reach the plunge pool at the top of the falls, you will have to navigate your way across the large boulders on the edge of Morans Creek and down towards the cliff edge.
Please take extra caution when exploring the plunge pool as there are no fall-restraints and it’s a very long way to fall if you accidentally slip over the edge.
There is a large flat rock next to the plunge pool which is a great spot to lay down a rug and watch the sunset from this epic vantage point.
As I mentioned earlier, don’t forget to pack a torch if you plan to visit at sunset as you will need it for the walk back to the parking lot in the dark.
The plunge pool
Epic vantage point
View of Lamington National Park
A memorable sunset
WHERE TO STAY IN LAMINGTON NATIONAL PARK
There are only a few places to stay in Lamington National Park to suit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers, and everyone in between.
See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
LUXURY: O’REILLY’S RAINFOREST RETREAT
MID-RANGE: CANUNGRA HOTEL
BUDGET: THE CANUNGRA MOTEL
FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY, SEE MY COMPLETE GUIDE ON WHERE TO STAY ON THE GOLD COAST
BEST GOLD COAST TOURS
MORE AUSTRALIA TRAVEL GUIDES
The east coast of Australia boasts awesome beaches, lakes, waterfalls, hikes, and many more fun-fuelled adventures waiting to be had.
This is what Australia is all about and what I aim to share with you in my destination guides.
Click on the links below to see more related posts:
- Hamilton Island: 10 Things To Do In Hamilton Island
- Agnes Water: 17 Things To Do In Agnes Water
- Yeppoon: 10 Best Beaches In Yeppoon
- Brisbane: Things To Do In Brisbane
- Gold Coast: 3 Day Gold Coast Itinerary
- Fraser Island: Fraser Island Day Trip
- Byron Bay: Things To Do In Byron Bay
- Crescent Head: 9 Things To Do In Crescent Head
- Forster: 7 Things To Do In Forster
- Port Macquarie: 7 Best Beaches In Port Macquarie
- Sydney: Things To Do In Sydney
- Kiama NSW: 3 Awesome Things To Do In Kiama
- Melbourne: Things To Do In Melbourne
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