Cape York has a couple of extremely well known attractions, that make for a very welcome cool off on a hot day. Elliot Falls and Twin Falls are two of the very popular spots, but there’s a third that is often missed. The Saucepan is much less well known, and that probably stems from its lack of signage, but its easy to get to, and certainly worth a look.
In combination, these all 3 of these attractions are nothing short of breath-taking, and they certainly made the long drive to the top of Cape York seem even more well worth doing.
Where are these falls?
These 3 falls are all located within about 500 metres of each other, and are just off the Old Telegraph Track, not far north of Fruit Bat Falls. They are roughly 60km south of the Jardine Ferry Crossing, and are all fairly easy to get to.
Do you need a 4WD to get to them?
Yep, I’m going to say you do. You might get there with an all wheel drive that has plenty of clearance, but there’s quite a few offset ruts and holes to manoeuvre around, and a 4WD is certainly recommended.
You only drive a few kilometres up the Northern Old Telegraph Track, but its in no way 2WD country with traction needed. The 4WD track (this section only) isn’t overly difficult, but it does require a bit of care and if you are new, you should be with someone else!
How good are the falls?
The Saucepan is a really picturesque place, and looked absolutely magic for swimming. Elliot Falls are even better, and totally blew my mind. They are stunning beyond words, with water cascading down so many different areas that its nothing but sensational.
To get here, head to the right when you are walking down towards Elliot Falls, and you’ll get close to the camp ground before there’s a sign pointing to the water (which you’ll hear from a while away). A lot of people miss these, because there’s no sign at the day use area.
Twin falls are different again, and truly beautiful as well, and we had an amazing time swimming here. You can climb up a number of levels, and find yourself a pool that is quieter. When we visited the water was quite cloudy, but it was still an incredible colour.
Given that twin falls and Elliot falls meet up and flow out one big river, you can follow a track between the two, and there’s some fantastic places on the edge of the cliff that look stunning, and that I deemed deep enough to jump into. Lots of people do this, and I’ve seen it done from Elliot falls too, but please take care if that’s the path you choose; its a long way to help from here. Jumping would no doubt be not recommended, so use your noggin.
Elliot Falls are in between the Saucepan and Twin Falls, and are also easily accessed via a gravel track and then a boardwalk. This is a harder place to swim at due to the water flowing and access to the water, but you can get in much further down.
I left these three falls feeling really glad that we made the time to visit them, and really rated them. They’re different from the stunning Trevathan falls that we’d been to around Cooktown, and to the other Queensland Waterfalls that are so popular.
Having somewhere that you can swim which is known to be crocodile free was truly awesome, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time here.
Camping at Elliot Falls
If you want to camp nearby, you can book a camp site through Queensland National Parks, and stay here for a few nights. This needs to be booked in advance online (apparently the ranger station has reception too), and its only really suitable for capable camper trailers, tent or vehicle based camping. You’d possibly get a small hybrid in here, but caravans are completely out of the question.
The camping has basic amenities, and is just basic bush camping without any amazing views, but its nice and close to all three falls, and certainly a good option if you are able to book something in advance.
We never bothered booking anything, and found a free camp right on the edge of the Old Telegraph Track, close to Fruit Bat Falls overlooking Scrubby Creek, which was pretty neat. There’s actually 3 places you can camp here, or you can go to the intersection of the main road, Fruit Bat Falls turn off and the Telegraph Track, and there’s room for about 5 caravans squished in to camp.
Safe swimming for kids
We initially went to Saucepan first, which is beautiful, but at the end of May it was still flowing really fast, and made for a pool that was moving quite quickly. It was beyond the capabilities of our two young kids, and whilst we probably could have swum in some of the pools above the falls, even that water was moving fast and it wasn’t worth the risk.
We moved to Elliot Falls, which are even worse for swimming with kids, unless they are competent. Twin Falls though, has a magic pool that is really safe, or you can climb to the next pool (or enter from mid way along the board walk down some steps), and even young kids with limited swimming experience will have a magic time.
Visit these falls
If you are going to do anything on your way up to Cape York, make it Elliot, Twin Falls and Saucepan. I thought they were even better than Fruit Bat Falls (but that is absolutely worth a look too).
If we’d stayed longer I would have happily come back to these falls and swam again. It’s truly beautiful.