Lawson Falls, Bunyip State Park, VIC
Waterfall Seasons of Australia - The Waterfall Guide


 
Surprisingly close to Melbourne, particularly if you live in the south-eastern suburbs, this lesser known waterfall is a cascade on a small creek in the depths of the Bunyip State Forest. Viewing the falls in their entirety is difficult due to the forest cover, as well as the slight bend in the falls near the bottom. However, you can access the water and touch the lower cascades. If you are energetic, you can also clamber part way up the falls to the tree fern around which the flow of water splits, to get a better view of the top section of the falls. Lawson Falls in the Bunyip State Forest Above: Lawson Falls during moderate flow conditions in spring (Order gifts or prints of this image)

There are two ways to access the falls. If you have the time and want a mildly challenging walk through the forest, you can take the 2-3 km walk to the falls from the Lawson Falls Picnic Ground. Starting this walk can be a little bit tricky, as you need to walk up the steps at the north-eastern end of the picnic ground, and then follow the left branch of the road for a few hundred metres until you cross the creek, where you will see the sign for the walking track itself.
The track is wide and clear at the beginning, broadly following the creek on a mild uphill grade, but it deteriorates as you progress due to vegetation reclaiming the track, so a cap, long-sleeved shirts and pants are recommended. As you approach the falls you'll find a signposted spur track that leads down a steep gully to the base of the falls, which can be slippery in wet weather. Once there you can catch glimpses of the falls from the elevated mounds on the edge of the creek, or jump down to the creek bed and find a rock or two to perch on. In this enclosed space you can take in the sight and sounds of the cascades directly in front of you, and feel the weight of the surrounding gully ridges that seem to close in on top of you. The upper cascade of Lawson Falls Above: The upper cascade of Lawson Falls (Order gifts or prints of this image)

If you want to visit the falls in the shortest time possible, you can continue driving past the picnic ground, a few kilometres further along Forest Road (i.e. veer right immediately after you pass the picnic ground). Look for a small wooden sign on the left hand side that points to both the Lawson Falls Walking Tk and the Discovery Walking Track. From here it's only a few minute walk to the falls. The downside is that there is no car park at this end of the track, and only a few small to medium sized cars can squeeze onto the roadside verge. Larger SUVs and 4WDs will protrude out onto the road. The quality of the unsealed section of Forest Road is fair, however there are lots of potholes along the way and a few muddy corners that I found easily navigable in a 4WD, and which would have probably been ok for a 2WD vehicle with reasonable height clearance in dry weather.

Even if you don't make it to the falls, the Lawson Falls Picnic Ground is a pleasant lunch or afternoon tea stop in the forest. It is a flat clearing encircled by tall gum trees with a handful of well spaced picnic tables and lawn in between, with access to the little creek that runs along one edge.

Here is a video of the falls, taken in the late afternoon in October, when the creek was flowing steadily, but not in flood:

Your Seasonal Guide:
Best Time of Year to Visit:Best Time of Day to Visit:
The highest flows typically occur in winter and spring. There is no flow data at this site, but the nearest similar catchment in the Bunyip State Forest still maintained a trickle in previous droughts on record. Avoid driving here in the dark so you can still see the potholes. Visit in the middle of the day to see the most light on the falls
Other Essential Information:
Location: Forest Road, Bunyip State Forest near Gentle Annie, 100 km (approx. 2 hr drive) east of the Melbourne CBD.
Latitude:-37.980468 Longitude:145.811053
Getting there: From Melbourne head along the Monash Fwy (M1) to the Sand Road exit at Longwarry North. Head north to the T-intersection, then right into Princes Way and left into Labertouche Road. Follow Labertouche Road for 4 km then veer right into Forest Road. After passing through Labertouche the road becomes gravel. To reach the Lawson Falls Picnic Ground follow the road for 12 km. There is a car park at the picnic ground. The falls are a further 3km by car (along Forest Road) or by foot (along the Lawson Falls Track).
Water source: Lawson Creek
Approx. height: 10-15 metres

Approx. width: 3-5 metres
Approx. length: 10 metres
Swimming available at the falls: No, but you can dip your feet in the water.
Facilities: At the picnic ground there is a toilet, picnic tables, wood fire barbecue (BYO firewood), untreated tap water (do not drink), lawn area. No facilities at the falls.
Entrance fee: None
Opening times: Always open
Sun shade: Shade available at the falls and at the picnic ground
Wheelchair access: There is no wheelchair access to the falls. The picnic area is flat with a smooth gravel path, but there is a cable fence and deliberately placed large boulders that would prevent access.
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: No camping, no disposing of rubbish down the toilet at the picnic ground, no drinking the water from the tap at the picnic ground, no dogs, no firearms, no collecting of plants or animal specimens, no trailbikes
Accommodation options: No camping is permitted at the picnic ground and there is no space to camp at the falls. The Forest Road Unloading Area, 6 km by road to the south, offers free camping on a first come first served basis, with no bookings required. According to the managing authority, the unloading area is not suitable for caravans. If you are planning to stay overnight in the area, and don't want to camp, you can try accommodation in nearby Drouin or Warragul.
Managing authority: Parks Victoria
Nearby attractions: Tarago River at Picnic Point, which is 20 km to the south near the freeway exit.
Before you head out, make sure you read the waterfall safety information. Specific to this site, I spotted a leech on my boot when walking along Forest Road before I reached the falls, so it's a good idea to have your favourite leech remedies on hand to remove them safely.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the picnic ground where the walk to the falls starts.
Change of Conditions:
I am not currently aware of any change of conditions reported at this site by the managing authority, or by visitors to this website. If you are visiting this waterfall and have any further updates on any change of conditions, let me know via the comment form below.
Comments:
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