St Columba Falls Tasmania | The Best Rainy Day Adventure

Falling from the foothills surrounding the verdant farmlands of Pyengana, you’ll find St Columba Falls, a raging waterfall that could knock your socks off – if it’s been raining in true Tassie style (copious amounts in a short period of time).

St Columba Falls near St Helens is one of our favourite waterfalls in northeast Tasmania, especially after a big week of rain. The cascading water tumbles erratically from the South George River 90m above into the rocky river bed below, where you can wander among tree ferns to find the best vantage point.  

The waterfall, albeit the main event, is not the only reason to visit St Columba Falls. The surrounding rainforest is stunning with giant trees creating a green canopy for the moss and lichen to thrive. The tree ferns fall over the track as you wander deeper into the wonderland created by mother nature.

If you’re after a waterfall that offers exceptional views for little effort, you won’t be disappointed with St Columba Falls. In this guide, we’ll cover all the essentials for visiting St Columba Falls, including extra things to do in Pyengana so you can plan a full day trip.

St Columba Falls, one of the best waterfalls near St Helens, flowing on a moody day in Tasmania

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Visiting St Columba Falls, North Tasmania’s Tallest Waterfall

1.2km return

20 – 30 mins

Elevation Gain
52 m

Highest Elevation
349 m

Toilet, Shelter, picnic area

Entrance Fees

Grade 1/2 – compact path with some steep sections

Where Is St Columba Falls

Just 30 minutes west of St Helens in Tasmania’s northeast, you’ll find St Columba Falls located along the South George River which begins its journey on the rugged slopes of Mt Victoria to its west. It’s protected within the St Columba Falls Reserve and offers a refreshing fern-filled oasis among the rambling farmlands.

A narrow winding country road will lead you from the Pyengana paddocks into Mt Victoria’s foothills, where you’ll witness the fury of St Columba Falls even before setting foot on the groomed trail. 

How To Get To St Columba Falls, Tasmania

St Columba Falls can be found on the western outskirts of Pyengana, a short 30-minute drive from St Helens.

Take the Tasman Highway northwest out of St Helens and follow the winding landscape until your turn off at Pyengana onto St Columba Falls Rd, you’ll see a large sign before the turn-off for the Pyengana Dairy. Once you pass the Pyengana Dairy Farm, continue following the road until you reach a sign indicating the tiny car park to the left. 

While St Columba Falls Rd is sealed, it’s narrow with plenty of agricultural traffic. It’s easily accessible for all vehicles but drive with caution around the blind corners. Once you reach the St Columba Falls trailhead, you’ll find a very small car park which allows for up to 10 cars to park alongside the skinny road.

Click Here For Directions

St Columba Falls is 30 minutes west of St Helens, 50 minutes southeast of Derby, 2 hrs 20 minutes east of Launceston and 4 hrs northeast of Hobart. 

Due to the remote nature of Tasmania, there is no public transport that can take you to St Columba Falls. There are also no dedicated tours so the only way to experience this waterfall is by car. Take a look at Rental Cars for the best deals on hire cars from Hobart or Launceston. 

Note: It might be a bit too tight to turn a caravan at the St Columba Falls car park, therefore, you may want to detach it and leave it at the Pyengana Recreation Reserve that’s located 10 minutes before the falls on the left. 

St Columba Falls Trail Notes

Walking the trail to St Columba Falls near St Helens Tasmania

The anticipation begins as soon as you roll up to the old slated shelter that indicates the beginning of the walk. From this vantage point, you can peer out above the tree line and gain uninterrupted views of St Columba Falls’ middle section. 

After a quick sneak peek of what’s to come, wander beneath the shelter and begin the steep descent to the gully below. With no need to worry about foot placement on the well-groomed path, you’ll have plenty of time to take in your surroundings, searching for peculiar fungi and moss that cling to the decaying forest. 

Quick teasing glimpses of the waterfall will keep you moving until you reach the soft banks of the South George River. A wooden bridge guides you over the river, where it’s worth a pause to search for the elusive platypus that frequents this area.

It’s hard to believe that the rainforest could get any better but as soon as you cross the bridge, it feels as if you’ve entered an enchanted land cloaked in every possible shade of green. 

The trail continues beneath enormous tree ferns and shaggy green tree trunks that crisscross the path. You’ll hear the falls before you see them as the water thunders down onto the granite boulders littering the river. 

Reaching St Columba Falls

Massive amounts of water flowing over St Columba Falls
Massive amounts of water flowing over St Columba Falls

If you’re lucky enough to visit St Columba Falls after a good soaking of rain, the mist will cover you as soon as you step onto the boardwalk that accommodates the final few steps to the wooden viewing platform beneath the waterfall. 

From directly beneath St Columba Falls, you’ll feel the full force of this 90m waterfall as it cascades over a mess of granite rock. Dwarfed tree ferns cling to the granite cliff, swaying in the wind created by the gushing water. You could spend a great deal of time sitting atop a boulder by the shore, watching the interrupted flow of water find its course down the rugged cliff into the calm pool below. 

Due to a 4200-hectare catchment area, St Columba Falls has never been known to dry up ever since its discovery almost 200 years ago and is considered one of Tasmania’s tallest ‘permanent’ waterfalls. 

Returning To The Trailhead

St Columba falls on a dark moody day

Once you’ve had enough, or become too drenched from the spraying waterfall, you can begin the 15-minute ascent out of the gully on the same trail you entered from. When you reach the bridge, take the time to look downriver and absorb the beauty and tranquillity of the now languid flowing water sheltered by overhanging sassafras and tree ferns.

It’s not often you’ll find such magic in under 30 minutes of walking, but that’s what you’ll get from St Columba Falls. The easy yet breathtaking walk is perfect for the whole family and is even equipped with bench seats along the climb for a short rest if needed. 

Best Time To Visit St Columba Falls

Fern dripping at the base of St Columba Falls

Unlike Halls Falls, which I believe is almost better when it’s not raging, St Columba Falls is a sight to behold when it’s at full force. The intensity is one of the most alluring attributes of this waterfall and therefore, it’s best to wait for a large dose of rain before visiting – if possible! 

Unfortunately, you don’t often have the luxury of choosing the right weather window while road tripping so below I’ve listed the benefits of visiting during each season.

  • Summer: While St Columba Falls is generally no more than a trickle in summer, you do have the benefit of warmth and even potentially dipping your feet in the cool water while the falls aren’t raging
  • Autumn: Autumn often brings crisp and clear days in Tasmania, with fewer tourists and more chances of seeing the falls at full force
  • Winter: If you can brave the cold, winter offers an even greater chance of seeing St Columba Falls in a fury of white foam, this is also the quietest time of year in Tasmania and you’ll likely have the waterfall to yourself
  • Spring: In Tasmania, spring often means wild winds and high rainfall, meaning you’ll most likely see St Columba Falls at its best, you may even snag a warm day worth dipping your toes downstream where the river is calm

Leave No Trace

Much of Tasmania is remote, with little to no facilities and loads of wildlife and beautiful forests. It’s each and every one of our responsibilities to keep it that way by packing out everything you pack in. This includes keeping food scraps and tissues with you until you can find a bin to put them in. 

Please follow the 7 Leave No Trace Principles, especially when you’re in nature and leave a destination as you found it – or better. 

What To Bring

Wearing a good rain Jacket while exploring the base of St Columba Falls

The walk to St Columba Falls is short and easy, requiring little to be taken with you. However, you may want to wear trail runners that have good grip and pack a rain jacket if you don’t want to get wet beneath the waterfall’s mist.  

Here is our basic list of items that we recommend taking on the St Columba Falls walk

Other Things To Do Near St Columba Falls

The Pyengana valley itself is a worthy destination to visit, with rambling farmlands dotted with grazing cows and sheep, and the tastiest little cafe providing cheese and milk straight from the source.

You’ll also find two other waterfalls close by and a quirky pub with a beer-drinking pig…

Pub In The Paddock

enjoying a local beer at the pub in the paddock in north east tasmania before feeding the pig beer

Established in 1880, The Pub in The Paddock is one of the oldest in Tasmania and is located seemingly in the middle of nowhere. In visiting this quirky pub, you’ll find history-laden walls and a beer-drinking pig. Priscilla is the second pig in the generation of beer-drinking pigs and you can feed her a heavily watered-down beer provided by the bar staff. 

Whether this is frowned upon or not, the Pub in the Paddock is worth a visit for a traditional pub feed and to learn about some of the Pyengana history hanging on the walls. If you’d like to stay longer, the pub also offers affordable accommodation. 

Pyengana Farmgate Cafe

pyengana dairy cosy outdoor setting in north east tasmania

The Pyengana Farmgate Cafe is one of our favourite places for an afternoon cheeseboard and some local wine while watching the cows go about their business in the paddocks beside the cafe.

The Pyengana Dairy is equipped with a cosy indoor seating area for when the weather is a touch too miserable that looks out on the paddocks and distant hills. With a delicious brekky and lunch menu that rolls into the afternoon, this is the perfect stop at any time of the day.

Halls Falls

Standing below the double tiered waterfall know as Halls Falls near St Helens Tasmania

Halls Falls is located on the northern side of the Tasman Highway, just 20-minutes from St Columba Falls. A wide path winds through a forest filled with giant gums and after 20-minutes, you’ll be standing at the base of the three-tiered waterfall. Here you’ll find giant tree ferns lining the river where the water cascades from deep green moss-covered rocks.

Ralphs Falls

Ralph Falls

Ralphs Falls is a single-drop waterfall that plummets almost 100 m into a deep gully below Mt Victoria. After a good soaking of rain, Ralphs Falls is quite impressive as the overflowing streams and creeks tumble over the precipitous cliff.

Perched high in the mountains, the drive to Ralphs Falls passes sprawling views of the surrounding farmlands as it winds through Mt Victoria Forest Reserve. You can reach the car park by turning right just before St Columba Falls, crossing the South George River and following Forest Lodge Rd for 5 km until you find a left turn onto Mt Victoria Rd. After another 7 km, the trailhead will be on your right. 

Note: The road to Ralphs Falls is unsealed and the use of a 4wd is highly recommended. 

Where To Stay Near St Columba Falls, Tasmania

St Columba Falls is situated within the Pyengana valley, only 30 minutes from St Helens, 35 minutes from Binalong Bay in the Bay of Fires and 50 minutes from Derby – the famous mountain biking destination.