Tallest waterfalls in Australia
03 July 2002
Australia is not known for very tall mountains. So most people wouldn't expect our country to have many large waterfalls. But Australia does have its fair share of majestic waterfalls – the task of picking the tallest is often coupled with debate though.
It all depends on how you define 'tallest'. To some, the tallest waterfall has the greatest height from top to bottom – even if there are a few ledges on the way down. To others, the accolade goes to the waterfall with the longest single drop.
Geoscience Australia lists the three tallest waterfalls in Australia and they all occur in the east of the country. Why there? The catchments of eastward-draining rivers are small, but waters are sourced from mountain ranges with high rainfall. So the rivers are high-volume and have gouged deep gorges, producing spectacular waterfalls.
Wallaman Falls, west of Ingham in Queensland, has a height of 305 metres. Here, water from the Stony Creek plunges down numerous ledges. Wollomombi Falls, east of Armidale in New South Wales, has a height of 220 metres and includes a single drop of 100 metres. It's sometimes quoted as Australia's tallest waterfall – but this is only true if measurement starts where the water does not truly fall, but instead flows against the rock due to the gentler gradient.
It's Ellenborough Falls just north of Taree in New South Wales that's regarded as Australia's tallest single-drop waterfall. This waterfall launches off the edge of the New England Tableland and has a single drop of 160 metres.
The famous Niagara Falls in North America is only 58 metres high and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe only boasts 109 metres. And according to Geoscience Australia, all of these waterfalls are mere trickles compared to the majestic Angel Falls in Venezuela – it plunges almost 980 metres.
Topographic information (including maps which show features such as waterfalls) is one of the roles of Geoscience Australia, the national agency for spatial information.
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