When we arrived, the tour guide gave instructions on how to get to the waterfall but my sister and I didn’t hear what he said because we were too preoccupied with – surprise – taking pictures. We couldn’t find our parents after, so we wandered a bit before passing another guide who pointed us towards the Shady Creek Walk, which he said would lead us to the waterfall.
The Shady Creek Walk turned out to be a 1.1 km hike that required us to walk over bridges and across streams and into forestry before we finally reached the falls. The farther and farther we walked, the more panicked my sister got. She started speeding up into a jog towards the end, while I slowed down my pace, learning to appreciate the sights and sounds around us.
Soon enough, we reached the twin cascades of Florence Falls. The pool was smaller than Wangi Falls, but it felt more intimate, like a hidden secret. Except it wasn’t all that intimate or hidden; loitering tourists (a group I belonged to) tainted the serenity of the scene, some sitting by the stream, marinating their feet in the water while others smoked cigarettes, puffing toxins into the great outdoors. Some 20-year-olds climbed the side of the waterfall and jumped into the pool despite a warning sign that explicitly warned not to climb nor jump off of rocks.
There were no signs of crocodile warnings, though, so everyone in my family (except my mom), decided to swim towards the waterfalls. I was wearing my contacts while swimming – not the best idea, I admit – and couldn’t submerge my head underwater to see what was below me.
I swam towards one of the waterfalls and was two arms length away from reaching the splattering raindrops when my left leg hit something thin and long and for the life of me I thought I was about to lose everything knee down. I gasped for air and kicked my legs but then I realized the object wasn’t reacting to me so I reached out with my hands and thank God it was just a wooden stick.
After 30 minutes in the pool, we got up and started to leave. This time, my sister and I made sure not to walk through the Shady Creek again, but instead take the 100-step climb to the top of the waterfall and parking lot where the tour van was stationed. A hundred steps sound like a lot, but it wasn’t too bad especially when we reached a viewing lookout that offered a gorgeous, bird-eye view of the waterfalls we had just swum in.
When we reached the bus, there was a wide tray of plump orange wedges prepared for us to eat, the supple pulp pristine under the sparkle of the sunlight. We devoured five, ten slices each, juice dribbling down our arms, before we jumped back onto the bus for and headed towards the Buley Rockpools for our third and final swim of the day.