Trentham Falls (Victoria's highest?)

Travis Easton

Boronia, Australia

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Now Trentham Falls is an impressive drop and after some good rain is really worth a visit. It is unfortunately promoted in a way that simply isn’t true with most websites I have seen promoting them as Victoria’s highest single-drop waterfall at 32m high. N.B. The site I used to link to has recently updated this claim to ‘one of the longest’ although they’re holding fast to the 32m bit, after my friend David Hibbert challenged them regarding this.

For me the ‘longest’ description also confuses matters, as this term refers to a horizontal distance not the vertical height in question. I have also seen the phrase ‘largest single drop waterfall at 32m’ which again is a confused statement as the largeness of a waterfall is determined by the volume of water going over it, not how high it is. Another variation is ‘highest single span falls in Victoria.’ As span refers to width not height this is another confusing claim.

Waterfall enthusiasts refer to a free falling waterfall as a ‘plunge waterfall’, i.e. one where the water does not touch the bedrock. So to be clear such claims would be best stated as either the ‘highest single tiered plunge waterfall’ or ‘highest plunge waterfall’. The first referring to a plunge waterfall that intersects a flat watercourse the second a plunge waterfall that is part of a larger series of waterfalls.

The highest single tiered plunge waterfall:

The 32m height claim for Trentham Falls is a well informed claim because it makes them slightly higher than it’s two most well known rivals to the ‘highest single drop’ crown. These waterfalls are:
Wannon Falls near Hamilton, which the information signs at the falls and ‘Waterfalls of Victoria’ author Dacre Smyth claim are 30m high. In actual fact they are 23m high, a measurement I took myself from three different spots to confirm accuracy on 23rd of September 2016.

Paradise Falls near Whitfield which Smyth says are 31m high but which are in reality 38.5m high. As measured by my waterfall enthusiast friend Anthony Car who measures waterfalls with a Leica laser distance measurer like I do. (it should be noted that as Paradise Falls have another tier further upstream so they are not strictly speaking, a ‘single tiered plunge’).

Photo: Kevin McGennan (reproduced here with Kevin’s kind permission)

This is a moot point however as Trentham Falls are not 32m high but 26m high, having personally measured them from two different spots (to confirm accuracy) on the 12th of January 2012 with my Leica D8 laser distance measurer. Dacre Smyth in his 1988 book ‘Waterfalls of Victoria’ also measured them at 26m. The 1885 ‘Victorian Railways Tourist’s Guide’ gives the height at the precise sounding 93 feet which equates to 28m. Given the fact that a number of other single tier plunge waterfalls surpass the 32m height anyway the claim is decidedly hollow.

During my own travels I have measured the single tiered Bindaree Falls near Mt Stirling at 34.1m high.

Slender Falls

Photo: Shivanee Mansfield/ Phillip Larkin (reproduced here with Shivanee’s kind permission)

Very few people know of or have visited Slender Falls in the Otways but they are estimated to be between 60m and 80m high which would more than double the current claimant to the highest single tiered drop in Victoria. Access however is restricted (no trespassing on the nearby plantation), difficult and dangerous so it will never be visited by many.

Another waterfall in the Otways called Wangerip Falls are according to the map 80m high. I haven’t visited this drop but the picture my friend Shivanee Mansfield took of them certainly makes them look big.

I doubt they are anywhere near 80m high, but they are probably more than 26 metres.

Highest single tier.

Dandongadale Falls

Middle Dandongadale Falls by Kevin McGennan (reproduced here with Kevin’s kind permission)

The highest waterfall in Victoria is Dandongadale Falls which come in at a massive 255m. On the World Waterfall Database it is claimed this 255m is in one drop which it isn’t, it has a few tiers but the highest single drop is way over 26m. According to 250 Victoria Waterfalls , Dandongadale Falls was measured by land surveyor Alan Monger in conjunction with the Benalla Bushwalking Club on 21st of January 1990. Alan measured the falls at 255.2m high with the first ‘sheer’ drop (the one pictured) coming in at a whopping 129m (which is 497% greater than Trentham Falls). Out of interest the above website claims these are the 314th highest waterfall in the world.

Other large waterfalls of interest:

Wulgermerang Falls, Little River Falls

Two more free falling plunge waterfalls (at least they’re free falling after heavy rains) which from memory and what my pics reinforce would blow the ol’ 26m mark out of the water (pun intended, sorry about the picture quality taken way back in 1995 on neg film with a point and shoot then scanned and the Wulgermerang Falls shot is heavily cropped).

Little River is a tributary of the Snowy River and Wulgermerang Creek is a tributary of the Little River. This gorge was promoted as the deepest in Victoria at 600m deep. Interestingly enough the original entry on parkweb had a picture of Little River Falls followed by a caption that the falls themselves were 600m high. Unfortunately the picture was of another Little River Falls located just outside of Melbourne in Cathedral Ranges State Park not the Little River Falls in Snowy River National Park (I have visited both of them). I emailed this information to parkweb and they thanked me and then re-published the page with a mere three sentences that didn’t correct the information but merely culled it, which for me was a disappointing solution to the problem. In their emailed response they said “I encourage you to contact us again if you discover any discrepencies within the information provided on Parkweb. Our main objective is to ensure that the information we provide is correct.” I’m not sure I want to if that’s the way they fix things.

Another bizarre Victorian waterfall title claimant is Agnes Falls on the Prom coast. To quote the official government created ‘Melbourne, Victoria’ website : ‘At 59 metres, Agnes Falls are the highest single span falls in Victoria.’

I can’t work out what this means or how any part of it bares any resemblance to reality but if you speak to locals in the area they proudly sprout this misinformation. As it is neither a single span (tier?) nor the highest I’m thinking they may be referring to it’s width as it is quite wide. Problem is that this width is artificially created by a man-made weir so even that claim is meaningless. That said is a beautiful drop that is well worth visiting.

I suppose everyone wants their local attraction to be the biggest and best so they talk it up and don’t let the facts get in the way of some good promotion. In the end it does make them look a tad foolish though.

Thanks for wading through my rave, hope it was of interest.


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