Are you wondering how to get to the bottom of Gerringong Falls in NSW? Read on to find out why you absolutely shouldn’t do this hike!
As you might know, I absolutely love going to wild swimming spots (you can read our guide for the best waterfalls in Sydney to swim in here). Recently I was finally able to go to the top of Gerringong Falls but because the weather was bad, we couldn’t go to the bottom.
We hired a van in Sydney from Orana car and truck rental, and we made it our mission to head back last weekend. If we hadn’t hired a van from them to take our bikes, we probably wouldn’t have gone as it would have been over a 20km walk.
It’s actually taken me most of this week to get over the hike & bike ride as it was full on. Now, I’m not even going to attempt to tell you how to get down to the bottom because of the following:
a/ this hike was probably one of the most dangerous hikes I have ever done, and I have hiked all over the world. My first ever trek was a four day hike to 5,000m above sea level in the Indian Himalayas (which is where Steve and I got together). We’ve also done the 13 day Everest Base Camp trek, a 4 day trek in Myanmar, Macchu Picchu trek in Peru, a trek to visit the gorillas in Uganda and a 3 day trek in The Amazon to name but a few.
and b/ there are some very over protective people out there who don’t want this spot ruined which I can totally understand. After going to many waterfalls and hiking spots around Sydney, I have seen rubbish at some places which is just odd.
I have been to various swimming spots in Sydney where people were drinking, smoking and playing loud music. It’s a shame because for many people, hiking helps them rejuvenate and recharge, rather than to party there. It then leaves me with hope that the people who read my posts don’t do this at any of the places I recommend. Hiking is about appreciating the natural beauty that still lies on this earth.
Hikers can be a bit crazy about revealing places, like they think they own it. I know no one wants to see any rubbish in the bush, because I honestly can’t get my head around why you would.
And you know I’m all for inspiring you all with the places I visit, but with this particular place, I have to say there’s only one thing I can advise, and that’s it’s dangerous for anyone attempting this hike.
Originally I had always planned to write a post about how to get to the bottom of Gerringong Falls because I researched it for ages trying to find out as much information as I could. Even though I gathered up a lot of information from other hikers, I realised that actually I didn’t want to post about how to find it.
After doing the hike I found it’s pretty obvious that it won’t take much time before you see another TV report about someone having to be rescued or even worse… because let’s face it, this does happen.
It’s not like other hikes in Sydney
The first thing you should know is that it’s not like the other Sydney hikes or Sydney waterfalls. Most of the walks or hikes I’ve been on around Sydney take about 1 hour, one way at the most. Most have a path or even boardwalks to walk on, and even on some of the lesser known hikes where the path maybe isn’t so clear, I’ve even seen people walking in their thongs which obviously isn’t advisable for any hike in Sydney. This Sydney hike isn’t like that.
After cycling an hour and a half (can you believe we missed the turn even though we did it only a few weeks ago, due to concentrating on a black snake we saw on the path rather than where we are actually going?!), we then got to the secret path which no one would ever find in a million years!
The cycle path on the way to the secret route to find the bottom of Gerringong Falls
Then after 2 hours of trying to find the way down, I couldn’t believe our luck when we randomly found the secret chimney top to climb down. This included a bit of rock climbing and without any rope was a cause for concern let alone pretty dangerous. Because we had spent so long trying to find the way, I was indeed determined to make it to the bottom.
It then took another hour to get to the bottom and it was far from easy. The non existent path was more like bush bashing right next to a steep drop and the worst part was, we had to climb over loads of moving rocks and branches. As soon as we stepped on them, the branches crumbled instantly. Maybe that was because there had been a lot of rain recently, but it wasn’t safe. The amount of times there were falls, near to broken ankles and legs was ridiculous.
By the time we actually reached the bottom it was 4:30pm meaning there was no point in carrying on after our already 4h30min hike to get there because it would be getting dark by the time we had started to turn back.
We were also told there were loads of brown snakes on these boulders by the two guys we came across on the way down, which wasn’t an ideal situation for us after 4 hours of trying to get there.
The problem was getting back and we were all actually very worried about finding our way as there’s no actual path. Stevo found a bit of shelter that we could have stayed under if it didn’t turn out well – that’s how worried we were.
After a 2h40min climb from the bottom back to our bikes (to be honest I don’t know how we did find the way), we had an hour’s bike ride back in the pitch black, with no lights. All in all it took us 7 hours.
What happened on our hike to Gerringong Falls?
Between the four of us, one had blood spewing out of her ankles from leeches, and another kept getting cramp throughout the hike meaning he had to walk the 8.6km cycle ride all the way back to his car.
Steve slipped so many times, at one point his foot was completely trapped by a rock that the other guy with us had to try to push it off him. If he wasn’t with us, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.
The couple we met whilst on the hike had no idea how hard it was going to be and didn’t bring nearly enough water with them.
This hike really made me realise that we are not invincible, things can go very wrong no matter how much you research you do and sometimes there’s a reason why these places aren’t widely known about.
If you are even considering doing this hike, I strongly recommend against it. Finding the path and then the way down is absolutely impossible and if you do find your way down, it’s a death trap waiting to happen. No place is worth this kind of hike at all.
It leaves me with the question, how far will people go to get that picture or to say ‘I’ve been there’? I’m not too sure anymore.
On some hikes around Sydney, you might see ribbons or markers on trees to help you guide the way. When we did this hike and wrote the above article in 2017, there was absolutely nothing to guide us which is why it was so hard. No matter how many pictures other hikers sent us or advised us about how to do this hike, it was still difficult which is why we wrote this article to help others.
Since we’ve written this article, Gerringong Falls has become quite big on social media. We’ve had a lot of families get in touch to thank us for writing this as they were going to take their young children on this hike. We are glad we have helped many people because unfortunately there have been air rescues since.
If you are a very experienced hiker then obviously you might see this article differently. We are trying to help day trippers who might not be used to navigating off the beaten path hikes, because this hike is not on the same level as going to The Royal National Park where there are well marked hiking paths for example.
If you would like to check out some of our favourite hikes in Sydney, check out our Sydney Walks Page and some of our articles below.
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