Why Detention Falls In Tasmania Is Worth The Detour

Hidden amongst the lush farmlands west of Burnie, Detention Falls will surprise you with its mesmerising flow of tannin-stained water spiralling from multi-coloured quartzite rock worn smooth over time. 

Northwest Tasmania is a well-known hub for waterfall seekers, but few know about or bother to visit Detention Falls. We almost fell into the latter category, finding the images on Google a little lack-lustre to warrant the time. Yet, this was a prime example of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ as these falls that don’t seem to photograph well were our favourite waterfall in northwest Tasmania. 

Detention Falls offers a sublime mix of ease and fun with a short trail that requires just a little bush-bashing and optional rock scrambling. The trickiest part may even be finding the correct location to begin this waterfall walk. Below, you’ll find all the information necessary to successfully visit Detention Falls. 

Detention Falls flowing fast into the vibrant forest lined with green tree ferns

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Exploring The Depths Of Detention Falls

1.6 km return

Grade 2

30 – 60 minutes

Elevation Gain
90 m

Highest Elevation
290 m


Entrance Fees
None – Private Land (be respectful)

Where Is Detention Falls

Parking at private property for access to Detention Falls near Burnie

Detention Falls is nestled into a crease beneath Misery Mountain, neighbouring the eastern fringes of the Dip Range Regional Reserve. The Waterfall itself is protected as a conservation area that borders private farmlands.

Fortunately, the landowners have allowed visitors to cut through their paddocks to reach the wooded track leading to Detention Falls. The closest town is Wynyard, 20km east but most visitors make a day trip from Burnie – the largest town in the area. 

How To Get To Detention Falls

To get to Detention Falls, follow the Bass Hwy west from Burnie for 35 km until you reach the turn off to Myalla (C229). Follow Myalla Rd south for 7km before turning right (west) onto Hawleys rd. At a t-intersection approximately 1.5km along the well-maintained dirt road, Google Maps will tell you to turn left. Disregard this and instead, follow the homemade sign that says ‘Falls’ to the right (north) for another 400 m or so until you’ll see another sign on a farm gate with the words ‘falls track’. There is a cleared area large enough for a car or two next to the fence where the track begins. 

This walk passes through private paddocks so take care around the electric fences, close every gate behind you and respect the landowners by staying well away from their houses and driveways, minimising your impact, and spending as little time on their property as possible. After all, they’ve been nice enough to allow this track to cut through their property which they certainly did not have to do! 

Detention Falls Trail Notes

Detention Falls Trail head, beginning through private farmland
The start of Detention Falls Track. Follow the fence line to the forest and be respectful, this is private property.

The trail begins at a gate with a homemade sign reading ‘Falls Track’ that leads into a grassy paddock. Follow the fence line north towards a second gate and finally a third that opens into the fringing forest. 

Here, a more legitimate sign indicates that this is, in fact, Detention Falls Conservation Area which will soothe any concerns of being misplaced. 

Detention Falls Trail Head Sign after the private farmland
Final gate off the private property. Turn left at this point to continue to Detention Falls

Being seldom used, the track isn’t the easiest to follow once you enter the woodland. But as long as you turn left (west) after passing through the third gate and stay close to the fence line for the first 50 metres or so, you’ll stay on course. Look out for the sparsely spaced pink tags for assurance. 

Not long after entering the trees, the path begins to swing to the right away from the fence and becomes more recognisable as the forest’s understory thins. As you reach a high point in the dry eucalypt landscape, you may notice a trail leading to the left with sticks built up as a makeshift barricade. This is actually where you can reconnect to the path you’re on after completing a half loop on the way back – more on this later. 

Once you clear the highpoint, the trail will descend through the wind-swept woodland as it veers west again and finally starts to traverse the steep mountainside on which Detention Falls is located. 

Walking through the forest along Detention Falls Track

Reaching The Top Of Detention Falls

Detention Falls flowing fast into the vibrant forest lined with green tree ferns

The thundering sound of the waterfall can be heard well before you reach the clearing that once held a viewing platform. From the empty clearing, the entire 30 m of gushing water can be seen falling from a collection of misshaped quartzite boulders into the small gorge below. Giant tree ferns hug the falls’ edge, thriving in the damp climate created by the deep creases of the mountain and the shadowing eucalyptus canopy. 

But the best views are found from the top of the waterfall, where you can examine each individual pool up close and watch the tannin-stained water swirl with the contours of each unique rock on its way to the foamy pool at the base. 

To reach the top of Detention Falls, keep traversing the steep rocky slope to the left on a faint goat track. The trail will begin to ascend as it follows the curvature of the mountainside toward the top of the waterfall. 

It’s important to note that the track to the top requires some steep rock scrambling and, once you reach the waterfall, the moss-covered boulders are extremely slippery. Needless to say, be safe and only proceed if you’re 100% confident with your capabilities.

If you make it to the top of the falls, you’ll be rewarded with a wonderful example of the force that water has on its subjects. The rocks have been worn into smooth depressions, some even wearing right through to form mini tunnels that allow the water to flow more freely. 

Top of Detention Falls in Tasmania

Returning To The Trailhead

Once you’ve had your waterfall fix, you can either return the way you came or follow another faint track south as it ascends above the waterfall. Countless fallen trees and forest debris make this track difficult to follow, but with the help of AllTrails, you will find your way back to the barricade of sticks I spoke about above. 

From the highpoint, it’s a short walk back to the fenceline and eventually, your car. This way would take off a couple of hundred metres but it’s only worth it if you have a map with this section of the trail included.  

AllTrails has this part of the trail listed as private but it stays within the forest so I doubt it actually is. But if you do choose to take this route, I recommend downloading AllTrails first as you could end up walking in circles or entering private land. 

Walking over fallen trees along the Detention Falls Track in Tasmania

Best Time To Visit Detention Falls

Detention Falls is one of those waterfalls that I find more impressive when it isn’t ferociously overflowing. When it’s peacefully cascading over the quartzite boulders, you have the chance to view the incredibly unique rock formations and the effect the water has on each individual one. 

We visited in winter during a relatively dry spell in comparison to other years and found it flowing perfectly. I imagine this waterfall, due to the fact it’s located in the northwest where rain frequents, will flow sufficiently year-round. But the driest season is typically summer and the wettest is spring. 

Detention Falls flowing fast into the vibrant forest lined with green tree ferns

Leave No Trace

There are no facilities at Detention Falls and furthermore, this waterfall is accessed by entering private land. While it’s always important to leave no trace, no matter where you are, it’s even more imperative when you’re on someone else’s land. 

Make sure to pack out anything you take with you and leave as little of a trace as possible. If you’re unfamiliar with the 7 Leave No Trace Principles you can read about them here. 

What To Bring

The walk to Detention Falls is fairly easy and usually completed within an hour. Therefore, it’s not necessary to take much with you other than your water bottle and perhaps a snack. 

Due to the lack of a groomed trail, we recommend wearing hiking boots that give adequate support, good grip for rock scrambling and protection from leeches that thrive in damp conditions.

Here is our basic list of items that we recommend taking on the Detention Falls Walk

Where To Stay Near Detention Falls

Eating breakfast at a breakfast bar in the morning sun at 41 found in Somerset Tasmania
Eating Breaky at 41 Found in Somerset, Tasmania

Detention Falls is located in between Stanley and Burnie, where there are plenty of scenic towns that are perfect for a holiday. We’ve listed a few of the best towns to stay in below with a couple of recommendations. 


Boat Harbour



Free Camping Near Detention Falls