About half an hour’s meandering drive from Byron; through volcanic fields of farmland, patches of forest and gigantic old fig trees, sits a little slice of watery heaven. With a macabre name that hints at the atrocities of colonial ‘white fellas’, Killen Falls Nature Reserve has been recognised as a place of environmental and cultural significance that needs to remain protected.
Protected includes no swimming, and its a rule that appears to be collectively and unashamedly ignored. Once you feel the massaging power of that fresh water falling on your back you’d understand where enthusiastic visitors are coming from. I couldn’t find any reference to cultural reasons for not swimming there, but due to the water hole feeding in to and from the local dam, you can begin to see how a few too many disrespectful humans could totally f*ck the place up.
It feels pristine. The water in the middle of the day is amazing, warm but refreshing, soft and funky as rain. There are some slippery rocks so you might want to wear sturdy shoes (I saw a few near spills in dodgy thongs!) and please, for public consumption, wear something that won’t be catapulted from your body by the strength of the falls. It happened. It was both awkward and entertaining for everyone. Having said that though, I imagine it is THE best place to have a skinny dip if you went there super early or late before the lunchtime punters arrive.
Where is it? Killen Falls Drive, Tintenbar, New South Wales. Open dawn until dusk. Free.
Where exactly? Follow Killen Falls Drive all the way down to the parking area at the end, then follow the walking trail which takes you to the top of the falls. You can look across the top of the falls down on the swimming hole below but to get to the falls you will need to turn off the main track where the path curves towards the top of the falls. There is also another trail down to the swimming hole that requires jumping the fence.
Leaving Killen Falls behind I made the drive a big loop and cut across to Broken Head Beach, just to add a little salt to all of that rainwater freshness – with a rocky view, this long, open beach is rarely ever busy. The coastline is part of a larger natural area known as Broken Head Nature Reserve – a place that deserves a few days attention in its own right.
Here’s a few more images of the waterfalls so you can imagine them from a distance!