Head to the base of MacKenzie Falls without having to come back up again
From the MacKenzie Falls car park, it’s a steep walk to the base of the waterfall where you’ll go down a staircase built in the 1930’s with more than 250 stairs. It’s all pretty flat from there with the occasional short set of stairs all the way to Fish Falls, which is 1-1.5kms downstream.
Fish Falls is the last big highlight for the trail, it’s then an easy bush walk for less than 2.5kms to Zumsteins.
Once you’ve made it to Zumsteins, if you weren’t able to bring two cars along and park one at either end of the trail, you’ll have to walk back the way that you came from, including climbing back up the steep set of stairs to your car at MacKenzie Falls. This is fine for a lot of people, although anyone with some stamina or other physical issues would have a much better time with an easy 3.5-4 km slightly downhill, downstream stroll by just going the one direction from MacKenzie Falls to Zumsteins.
Here’s a video of when we did it:
Walking from MacKenzie Falls to Zumsteins via Fish Falls
If you’re just heading from MacKenzie Falls to Zumsteins and don’t have to come back up the 250+ stairs, this is a very easy trail in terms of it being a fitness challenge. It’s obviously another story if you’ve got to climb back up the stairs to the car park, but if that’s a problem, just take it slow and instead of a 5 minute climb, do it over 15 minutes and you should be fine.
There’s a hand rail down the stairs from the car park to the base of MacKenzie Falls, but it’s still very steep and can get slippery.
From the base of MacKenzie Falls to Fish Falls is mostly flat with a few small sets of stairs. It’s a riverside trail from Fish Falls to Zumsteins picnic area and car park with almost no changes in elevation other than it being slightly downhill.
It’s a few hundred metres from the car park to the base of MacKenzie Falls. A further 1-1.5kms to Fish Falls and then another 2-2.5 kms to the Zumsteins picnic area.
There’s a large car park with plenty of room and facilities.
There are non-flushing toilets and there is not any drinking water available.
Closest place to buy food & drinks
Halls Gap is 30 minutes south, right in the middle of the Grampians. If you’re staying in the Grampians National Park longer or heading back to Melbourne, Halls Gap is your best option.
Horsham is 45 minutes north of MacKenzie Falls, out of the Grampians National Park on the way to Adelaide or South Australia.
You’ll find plenty of places to eat, drink and spend the night in both of these places. Horsham is rural city based on agriculture where-as Halls Gap is a tourist town.
The walk from MacKenzie Falls to Zumsteins is not dog friendly. With the exception of Halls Gap, dogs aren’t allowed in the Grampians National Park, including the MacKenzie Falls car park and Zumsteins picnic area.
Swimming along the way
Swimming at MacKenzie Falls is banned and dangerous, both in the waterfall’s plunge pool and the river flowing from the falls. There’s lots of powerful underwater currents that are known to be fatal and suck people under, even when the river looks calm and completely safe. There’s also no phone signal, even for emergency calls, so if you get stuck, you’re also a long way from help. People tend to head down to Fish Falls instead.
Fish Falls also has signs advising not to swim there and it isn’t allowed, although on a hot day and in the right conditions, some people would say it’s relatively safe to swim in part of the plunge pool at the base of the final Fish Falls cascades/waterfall, but only off to the side in the pool, not in the stream.
Getting to the car parks
From Halls Gap, take the main tourist route, Mount Victory Road, which runs alongside the cricket oval.
You’ll just need to turn onto Mt Victory Road and follow it the entire way to the Zumsteins picnic area, which is about 30 minutes. A few minutes before reaching the picnic area, you’ll see the signs for the MacKenzie Falls turn off, drive back to there after parking one car at Zumsteins.
Once you’ve parked at the MacKenzie Falls car park, follow the signs to the base of the waterfall and keep walking all the way to Zumsteins.
Coming from Adelaide or Horsham
About 10-15 minutes out of Horsham, turn right at the Northern Grampians Road and follow this all the way to the Zumsteins Picnic Area, you can’t miss it.
Accommodation & Camping
You can’t camp or set-up a campervan at MacKenzie Falls or Zumsteins picnic area. You can’t camp along the walk or at Fish Falls either.
There are dozens of campgrounds nearby with the closest being Smiths Mill, just a few kilometres from the MacKenzie Falls car park. You’ll need to head over here to book a campsite at Smiths Mill and pay on the Parks Victoria website before setting-up camp for the night.
For accommodation, there are some bnb’s and retreats in the kilometres following Zumsteins picnic area on the way to Horsham.
If you’re after somewhere on the way to Adelaide that’s nearby, head to Horsham otherwise Halls Gap in the centre of the Grampians has loads of accommodation options, from motels and hostels to unique luxury accommodation.