Byron Bay waterfalls – Killen Falls – public swimming waterfall | info plus video

Killen Falls is regarded as one of the most beautiful waterfall swimming holes in NSW but it remains hidden away. Here we tell you where the track to it starts, how difficult it is to navigate, and what you need to take with you for a fun and safe visit

Killen Falls, NSW

One of perhaps the most photographed yet difficult to find waterfalls in NSW has to be Killen Falls in the Byron Bay Hinterland. A part of the Ballina Shire, this famous Byron waterfall has been seen on many Instagram accounts, yet it is tucked away with difficult access starting from the end of a country round.

A famous Byron Bay Instagram location

The waterfall can experience crowds of people visiting it during the warmer months, as it is not only an unofficial tourist spot and famous Byron Bay Instagram photo location, but also a local favourite swimming hole.

No time to read? Watch our video of the Byron Bay waterfall Killen Falls, NSW

Watch this video to see what swimming at Killen Falls is like…


When to visit Killen Falls

Crowds at Killen Falls

Crowds at Killen Falls

Killen Falls makes a great swimming spot in the warmer and Spring & Autumn shoulder months of the year, but remember your bug spray in the hotter, more humid months of Summer.

Visiting either early in the early morning or the evening avoids much of the parking issues and also crowds. Visiting in colder months will also be a quieter experience.

How to get to Killen Falls

Map of Killen Falls, located in the Byron Bay Hinterland

Map of Killen Falls, located in the Byron Bay Hinterland

Killen Falls is located at Tintenbar, NSW –  around half an hour’s drive (taking into account holiday traffic which can be substantial in this area) from the NSW coastal tourist destinations of Ballina and Byron Bay. (See the map at the end of this article for exact directions)

The access path to Killen Falls is located at the end of Killen Falls Drive, a residential rural dead-end  tar road with very limited street parking.

The access path to the waterfall

Killen Falls path Council sign

Killen Falls path Council sign

To get to Killen Falls you need to walk in on foot.

A short bushwalk, the start of the Killen Falls track is signposted at the very end of Killen Falls Drive.

The way to Killen Falls top half of the access hill path - fairly wide sections

The dirt path down to the waterfall is around a kilometre return. It is a rainforest-lined dirt path that is at times, washed out and unformed.

The waterfall lookout

Killen Falls lookout platform

Killen Falls lookout platform

The top half of the path to the falls passes a lookout, which means that those who can manage a better-maintained path can still see the falls from the top.

The view from the top of the Killen Falls lookout

The view from the top at the Killen Falls lookout

This first section of path is relatively manageable, however is still a dirt path with a reasonable incline, and is sectioned with log half beams.

A steep path down

The path down to the falls is steep

The path down to the falls is steep

Beyond the Killen Falls Lookout deck, the path becomes steeper. Soon it’s steep enough to require use of the metal handrails to stay upright, and it would be almost impossible to navigate without the support of them. At it’s steepest the path is washed out and rough.

At the bottom, is the riverbed, and there is a further walk along the edges of the river, some of it require rock-clambering to get to the falls.

The rocky riverside walk at the bottom to get to the falls

The rocky riverside walk at the bottom to get to the falls

As a rough guide, I’m able-bodied 54 year old mum but not fit by any stretch of the imagination! I could manage it fairly well, but it was challenging. Very small children would almost certainly need assistance up and down.

Don’t be discouraged- whilst Killen Falls can be difficult to access, it is worth the challenge for the beautiful waterfall and swimming hole at the end! Just be sure you have the physical ability to haul yourself back up the path you are descending.

At the waterfall

Killen Falls NSW

The beautiful Killen Falls waterfall & swimming hole

A sunken swimming waterhole, Killen Falls is a beautiful cascading 10 metre waterfall on Emigrant Creek, located within a small canyon. Surrounded on three sides by rainforest and caves, the pool is mostly shallow with some deep sections. The pool isn’t deep enough to cliff jump into, however as you’ll see in our video, some were doing cliff diving, just the same!

The water is tinted brown but clean, cool and lovely to swim in. The bottom of the pool is lined with rocks – some sharp – and reef shoes are the best way to deal with those. Otherwise it is a very slow and ginger entrance to the pool.

Things to take with you to the waterfall

Apart from the obvious things you normally take with you on a walk, hike or bushwalk, these are the must-take essential items.

A hands-free bag – you’ll need both hands for the climb down the steep sections of the path

Bug spray – mosquitos are a problem in humid weather

Sunscreen – the sun still penetrates the sunken rainforest

Walking/sand shoes with good soles for the riverside walk and reef shoes for swimming –  the river’s edge and almost the entire bottom of the swimming pool is lined with sometimes sharp rocks. (I had to crawl out pulling myself along with my hands, and the girls thongs weren’t thick enough to fully protect their feet on the walk there)

Water, fuel, go to the toilet before you go! – there are no shops or services at Killen Falls. Be prepared!

A swimming waterfall worth discovering

At Killen Falls you can swim underneath the waterfall

At Killen Falls you can swim underneath the waterfall

The sheer power of this short but stunning waterfall is enough motivation to make the journey simply to witness it – even in the colder months. Killen Waterfall is indeed a Byron Bay area treasure.

Finally, remember to be safe when navigating the bush and cautious as ever when swimming or wading at a wild swimming hole. Keep weak swimmers out of harms way and children at arms reach. Swimming in unpatrolled Australian creeks and rivers can be very dangerous and requires care and vigilance. Drownings can and do occur. Ballina Shire Council do not recommend swimming at Killen Falls due to variable water quality. Check Ballina local council advice on the area before leaving for Killen Falls in case of important updates or flood warnings.

Follow all noise, road and parking laws, and be respectful of not only the precious flora and fauna, but also the residents that live at the site.

Have a great time!

Map to Killen Falls, NSW

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Killen Falls riverside walk is rocky

Killen Falls riverside walk is rocky

Killen Falls NSW lookout viewKillen Falls waterfall in Ballina Shire near Byron Bay

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Hi, I'm Barbara, mum of the Let's Go Mum blog. We'd love to hear from you! You can contact me anytime with ideas on where you think we should go or what you think we should try...just drop me a line at!