If you’re anything like us, you’re keen to avoid summer’s inevitable towel-to-towel crowd at every beach around Sydney. For those of you who’d like some elbow room, or looking for a change from your usual weekend routine of brunch, dog park and pub, then this one’s for you.
Whatever your motivation, waterfalls are monumental and mesmerising – and NSW has heaps of them, perfect for meditation, or hanging out with friends, or asking, ‘How’s the serenity?’
Ebor Falls, Guy Fawkes River National Park
Come here to be impressed, not to undress to your budgie smugglers, because despite being totally awe-inspiring, Ebor Falls are too dangerous for a dip. In total Ebor Falls drop 100 metres down steep cliffs and head down-river before the longer drop into the gorge below. All waterfalls, including Ebor Falls, are especially high in volume after rainfall, so serious waterfall chasers should keep an eye on the weather forecast. A bit of a mission at seven hours from Sydney, this is one for the enthusiast.
Did You Know: The Gumbaynggirr people, the first inhabitants of this area, named waterfalls Naan.gal.
Maddens Falls, Dharawal National Park
Be an early adopter and check out this newly-declared National Park. For 70 years it was Sydney Water’s catchment area and was off limits to the public, to keep the water pristine for drinking. (And hey, let’s keep it that way and take our rubbish with us when we leave.) Other benefits: hundreds of adorable frogs of many species whose chirpy croaks echo around the park. The other plus? The walk to the falls is short, so you’ll have more time for framing the perfect shot or chowing down on a snack at the picnic area.
Did You Know: Waterfalls can be dangerous places – don’t become a tragic statistic. Make sure you stay on the tracks, watch out for slippery rocks, and never climb or jump off the waterfalls. Check out more detailed info on water safety and remember to always stay safe.
Red Cedar Falls, Dorrigo National Park
This spot feels truly prehistoric. The trail to Red Cedar Falls has vista views and a slow building roar as you inch closer and closer to the base of the magnificent falls. Located one hour and twenty minutes from Coffs Harbour, it’s at the end of the Rosewood Creek track. You can access it from the Never Never Picnic Area, which has some of the oldest and most gigantic trees in the NSW. This one is great for a bit of cardio: it takes a committed 8km-return walk (or crawl, depending your level of fitness) to take you to the bottom of the highest falls in Dorrigo National Park.
Gloucester Falls, Barrington Tops National Park
A 1.8km walking loop takes you within misting distance of the twin drops of Gloucester Falls. (The first two rows will get wet.) The best part? Even at only three hours from Sydney, the park’s relative isolation has meant all manner of rare plants and animals live here. Watch out for wild platypus and lyrebirds, and be pe prepared to spot reclusive quolls and Blue-Flecked Bowerbirds.
Minyon Falls, Nightcap National Park
Minyon Falls is a choose-your-own-adventure waterfall, just an hour out of Byron Bay. After the 45 minute drive down narrow roads you can either hang at the lookout or take the two hour return hiking trip to the base of the falls. Either way, you’ll be greeted with water pouring over a ledge 100m high. Gnarly.
Fitzroy Falls, Morton National Park
Past Wollongong in Morton National Park, these falls are one of NSW’s busiest tourist spots all year round, and for good reason. Take the West Rim Walk for an easy stroll to plenty of lookouts that’ll leave your mouth agape at the raw power of these natural wonders. In contrast, the Wildflower Walk dips into a bird-filled rainforest for most of its 1.5km length before climbing to a spectacular view. The main lookout is directly above the falls: unmissable for thrillseekers and slightly terrifying to those scared of heights.
Oxley Wild Rivers National Park
The water in Wollomombi Falls takes a whopping 22 seconds to fall 260 metres from top to bottom – the same amount of time it would take you to pull out your phone right now and text your friends to organise a trip. The highest waterfall in NSW, Wollomombi Falls is housed in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, approx three hours west of Port Macquarie or two hours from Coffs Harbour. The prime spot to view this spectacular waterfall is the lookout, which is an easy walk from Wollomombi Falls picnic area. While you’re there if you’re keen for a walk, there’s Chandler walking track or Wollomombi walking track, both tracks start from the picnic area.