Gills Gully Falls
Garawarra State Conservation Area, Stanwell Tops, between Helensburgh and Stanwell Park, Illawara, NSW, Australia
Despite being 100m away from the fairly popular, though unofficial swimming hole at Kellys Falls, the swimming hole below Gills Gully Falls appears to be little known and very quiet. The pool is shallower than its better known neighbour but still deep enough to submerge yourself in its pleasantly refreshing waters. This is the perfect vantage point from which to marvel upward at the truly impressive falls with their clouds of eddying, billowing spray made visible by the sunlight bouncing off the cliffs. The likelihood is there will be no-one else here so lie back on a sun-baked rock and breathe in the serenity.
How To Get There: Turn of the Princess Highway and exit the roundabout onto Lawrence Hargrave Drive towards Helensburgh. After 1.5km you will pass the Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple and then see a left turn signposted Garawarra State Conservation Area which takes you to the Kelly’s Falls car park. From here take the Princess Marina Track down some wooden steps. You will soon see a track split off downhill from the main track. Follow this downhill where you will find a steep section with makeshift ropes and rope. Check them carefully and descend if you feel they will bear your weight. The track continues directly to the swimming hole below Kellys Falls. From here cross over the river just beneath the swimming hole and follow the ridge around. You will stumble upon Gills Gully Falls after about 100m.
Difficulty of access: 6/10 It’s only about a 15 minute walk down to the falls but it is extremely steep and requires some climbing as well as a little skirting around ledges. There are sections with a makeshift rope and rope ladder and after rain it can be very slippery.
Opening Times/Seasons: The park is open from 7am to 8.30pm daily.
Entrance Fee: Free
Facilities Nearby: There are picnic tables in the car park but no other facilities at the spot itself. Nearby Helensburgh has more facilities including a petrol station, toilets and cafes
Other Activities: Bushwalks to Stanwell Tops and Illawara Escarpment from the picnic area. There are also mountain biking and horse riding trails in the area.
Other Places of Interest Nearby: The Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple just up the road from the entrance to Kelly’s Falls is an incredible piece of architecture and one of the most revered Hindu temples in the southern hemisphere, in part because of its proximity to the water at Kelly’s Falls. The Symbio Wildlife Park is also closeby.
Wildlife: Several species of damselfly an dragonfly feed in the pool whilst Red-browed Firetail Finches, Satin Bowerbirds, Honeyeaters and Wattlebirds may be seen on the trails in in the picnic area.
Places to Eat: There are several options in Helensburgh including Red Nectar for fine dining and Big Sister Horsie for a more casual brekkie or lunch. There is also a canteen serving authentic Indian food at the Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple.
Where to Camp: Closeby there is drive-in beachside camping with good amenities at Coledale Camping Reserve. For those looking for a quiter bushland experience there is a tiny walk-in campground at Lake Eckersley with its own swimming hole or a walk-in beachside campsite at Bonnie Vale in the Royal National Park.
Other Places to Stay: Stay and dine in luxury with sea views at the Tumbling Waters Retreat further down Lawrence Hargrave Drive, or carry on to the end of the road and find the Stanwell Park Beach Cottage which is one of many private rentals and B&Bs in the area.
Nearby Towns: Helensburg, Stanwell Park, Stanwell Tops, Coledale Beach, Royal National Park.
Comments: Worth going the extra 1/16 of a mile.