Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park
Directions - Quininup Falls (or Quinninup Falls as it seems to be called online) is located in between Yallingup and Prevelly. From Caves Road find the turn-off for Moses Rock Road and follow it all the way to the end. The walk trail is reached by taking the right turn at the end and following it to the car park. The trail head is on the western side of the car park with a new information board telling you about the hike.
The Hike - The South West of Western Australia is not blessed with a lot of waterfalls and not many that are well known to the public so it's a refreshing sight to have a trail provide access to one. It's even rarer to have a waterfall this tall so close to the ocean and this is one of the reasons why Quininup Falls is such a special location. Smack bang in the middle of the Caves Road tourist route and surrounded by wineries, caves, towns, cafes and amazing nature spots, this short but enjoyable walk makes for a perfect addition to any visit to the Dunsborough/Margaret River region.
From Caves Road take Moses Rock Road and follow this until it reaches a T-junction. Take the right hand option and follow the gravel road (2WD accessible) to the car park. Here you'll find plenty of parking (except maybe during September school holidays) and a toilet block. The trail head has recently been given new information boards with a map of the walk and what to look out for along the way. Utilising a section of the Cape to Cape Track, you follow the trail north as it makes its way along the edge of the granite cliffs and towards Quinninup Beach. Before you start there is a cool lookout just next to the car park with views over the Indian Ocean and a set of stairs leading down to the beach. The first section of the track is a gentle meander up a hill with excellent views looking over the water and off towards Quininup Beach in the distance. The colours of the hills are really interesting as the mix of the orange granite and the green coastal heath makes for a unique colour palette. Adding to the colour palette from autumn through to early summer is the variety of wildflowers you experience on this section. While August to October is the best time to visit for wildflowers and orchids, there is usually a mix of different species flowering at different times over the year.
On my visit I was lucky enough to be surrounded by Pink Fairy Orchids, Yellow Acacias, Flowering Hakea, Boronia and Basket Bush. The trail varies between being a sandy single track and then boardwalk where an effort has been made to avoid the muddy sections (and reduce the risk of spreading dieback). When you get closer to the orange cliffs, there is a well positioned bench providing an excellent opportunity to have a sit and enjoy the stunning views. Crossing a bridge over a small stream, you head into some thicker undergrowth filled with more wildflowers before reaching an open space. The rocky path takes you all the way to the final descent down towards Quininup Beach and is a really good photo spot for the wide open vistas and rolling hills of the area. Right before you reach the sand dune that takes you down to the final walk to Quininup Falls, I spotted some Exotic Spider Orchids hanging around on the edge of the track. I love orchid spotting and always get a thrill when I see the more delicate spider varieties. As is always the case with Spider Orchids, once you see one, there is a good chance you'll see more and wonder why the first one was so difficult to find.
Reaching the top of the sand dune, you finally see Quininup Beach and can trace the course of Quininup Brook as it stretches from the valley and empties into the ocean. The soft sand is easy to descend down but is a bit of pain to get back up on the return journey (two steps up, one step back kind of walking). The spot where you leave the Cape to Cape is well signed with markers and signs pointing you inland towards Quininup Falls. Some interpretive signing has been installed to let you know this is an important site for the local Wardandi people and to be respectful. The red earth just off the beach was a bit of a surprise just because you don't find many sites like it in the South West that is dominated by limestone, sand and granite. There are signs to tell you to stick to the path here and not disturb the rocks so it was a shame to see idiots doing their best effort to create rock cairns so they can feel more connected to nature or however they justify their stupidity. The final stretch of the trail takes you into the valley and up a small dune before you finally reach the main event. Flowing between winter and late spring (or after a really good soaking in autumn), it's not quite as powerful as it used to be thanks to a land owner building a dodgy dam just upstream from the falls (see the satellite images).
You can walk right up to the main section of the falls and if the pool isn't too full, stand next to them if you really want. Photographers will enjoy the small dune in front of the falls that you can position your tripod on to capture the long exposure shots and it looks really pretty with the water cascading down. The upper tiers aren't accessible but if you stand a bit higher on the dune, you can see them flowing down into the main part of the falls. It's a really nice spot to sit and enjoy for a while but for a more peaceful time, come on a weekday as this is a very popular trail during weekends and school holidays. When you've had your fill of gazing at beautiful waterfalls and listening to the calming effect of flowing water and distant waves lapping on the shore then it's time to head back the way you came. If it's peak wildflower season between August and October and you're looking for some extra kilometres to hike then head in the opposite direction on the Cape to Cape from the car park to Moses Rock Campsite and back. This stretch is one of the best places on the track for wildflower variety and you'll have a blast searching for all the different kinds.