The Minnamurra Falls has been a popular picnic spot since the 1870's and was known about since the earliest settlers and cedar getters. The Falls received their official name in 1896 when the Hon. J Carruthers (Minister for Lands), and a large procession visited the falls. In 1909 the falls were apparently re-named Hampdon Falls after the visit of a Govenor, but this renaming was very unpopular and the current name remained in use.
The Falls area was set aside for public recreation since 1898 but it was Alderman David Lindsay Dymock, Alexander Nicholson, Rev. J Burgess MA and Alexander Campbell MP, who argued for the reservation of the site as a tourist resort (and to protect the land) to the Land Board at the Kiama Courthouse in June 1900. Most of the land in the Minnamurra rainforest reserve was originally owned by Alexander and Edward Badans and Thomas Ward. Ellen and Frederick Tieck in more recent times donated 38 acres to act as a buffer zone for the reserve.
Toilets and shelter sheds were built by the Jamberoo Council in 1936 and further work was done in 1938 when the Minister for Lands (Eric Spooner) provided relief work payments to men during the depression. The workmen camped on Cole’s Flat and created a path to the falls with permanent crossings over the streams.
Howard Judd, appointed in 1936, as a Kiama Council Ranger, did much to promote the beauty and also the conservation of the area by limiting the number of cars to the site and conducting education programs. Judd was a ranger for over 30 years and in that time saw the number of visitors to the Falls increase to 100 000 per year. He also oversaw the development of the museum (built by the Kiama Rotary Club in 1968) kiosk and other facilities and decking to protect the most seriously damaged areas. The Minnamurra Rainforest is an important ecological site due to several factors. Because it has been a relatively protected site since the 1900’s there are many trees, ferns, rainforest animals and other rainforest plants that are may not be found elsewhere. The reserve also has most of the rainforest species found in southern NSW, in a pristine state in the upper reaches of the falls.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service took over the management of the Reserve in 1986 and have since created the boardwalks, suspension bridges, car parking and improved facilities. An important change has been the regeneration of an area that has experienced heavy logging,coal mining, floods, fires, cattle grazing and large numbers of visitors since the 1870’s.
Gone but not forgotten: A history of the Minnamurra Falls valley and a family history by Dorothy O'Keefe, 1982.