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.
Above: Lawson Falls during moderate flow conditions in spring
(Order 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.
Above: The upper cascade of Lawson Falls
(Order 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:
|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 Information Before You Go:
Forest Road, Bunyip State Forest near Gentle Annie, 100 km (approx. 2 hr drive) east of the Melbourne CBD.
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).
Swimming available at the falls:
No, but you can dip your feet in the water.
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.
Shade available at the falls and at the picnic ground
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
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
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
and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions.
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.
The marker indicates the approximate location of the picnic ground where the walk to the falls starts.
Here is one visitor's experience of accessing the falls from the other direction (via Powelltown):
Comment:"Falls still flowing. Large stone steps have been placed on the last half of the descent
to the falls. The falls can also be accessed via Powelltown, Learmonth Creek Rd, Bunyip Rd then Forest Rd. The 25 km
is in excellent condition, with a few potholes and some fallen trees, and very dusty. Seven Acre Rock, 18 km to the north on
Bunyip Road, is also well worth a look"
- R. Curtain, Melbourne, Australia 20/12/2017
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I'm particularly interested in your experiences after visiting, and any changes in conditions, etc.
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