Welcome to Waterfall Way. Countless hiking trails, secluded campgrounds and pristine waterfalls have earned this drive a reputation as one of Australia’s best. Waterfall Way is the gateway to some of the country’s most impressive waterfalls and national parks. It stretches 185km from the coast, at the exit from the Pacific Highway near Urunga (20mins drive south of Coffs Harbour) to Armidale in the west.
Did you know? From Urunga, to just past the turn-off to New England National Park, you are in Gumbaynggirr Nation, with the last section (covering Wollomombi Falls) falling within Anaiwan and Dhunghutti Nations.
First up: Bellingen
Situated beside the Bellinger River, this charming little town is a perfect place to fuel up and stretch the legs. Home to a variety of cafes offering fantastic breakfast and lunch options, accommodation is available here too. Bellingen boasts character, creativity, a relaxed atmosphere and one of the state’s most pristine rivers.
The First Four Waterfalls - Dorrigo National Park
From Bellingen, 30km of winding road will lead you along the Bellinger River and up the Great Eastern Escarpment as bellbirds sing outside your window. Two waterfalls flow right beside the road as it meanders up to Dorrigo. Soon you’ll find some of Australia’s most impressive rainforest and waterfalls within Dorrigo National Park, part of the UNESCO listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia.
Dorrigo National Park offers plenty of beautiful hiking trails, waterfalls, an informative Visitor Information Centre, a gift shop and the environmentally conscious Canopy Café. Skywalk lookout is just metres from the visitor centre, offering an expansive view from above before you descend below the canopy. Admire the beauty of Crystal Shower and Tristania Falls along Wonga Walk with your friends and family.
If you’re up for a rewarding challenge, take a quick drive to Never Never Picnic Area and follow Rosewood Creek walking track down to mighty Red Cedar Falls – you won’t regret it! Red Cedar is the tallest waterfall accessible by walking track in Dorrigo National Park. Remember to take a rubbish bag with you as there are no bins provided at Never Never picnic area.
Did you know: 2019 marked 25 years of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia. The unique plants, animals, ancient landscapes and subtropical rainforests of this UNESCO World Heritage area are an incredible example of the major stages of Earth’s evolution.
Ebor Falls – Guy Fawkes River National Park
50km from Dorrigo Rainforest Centre and just a stone’s throw from Ebor is one of Australia’s most scenic and photogenic multi-step waterfalls – Ebor Falls. The Gumbaynggirr people named these falls ‘Martiam’, meaning ‘Great Falls’ for good reason. Lookouts for both the upper and lower sections of the falls are located only a brief walk from the carpark, perfect for a picnic lunch with a view!
New England National Park
Further west along Waterfall Way you’ll find another World Heritage-listed natural wonder. In the depths of New England National Park hides a lush campground, cabin accommodation, spectacular lookouts and ancient forest. Point Lookout is the place to be for an unbeatable sunrise view. If you’re keen for a hike, Lyrebird walking track will lead you to Wrights lookout, high up on an exposed basalt plateau. If you’d prefer a shorter walk, Eagles Nest track will lead you to the stunning volcanic formation of Weeping Rock. Tea Tree Falls walking track links Thungutti campground to Toms Cabin, guiding you through mystical mossy forest and pristine flowing creeks.
Cathedral Rock - Cathedral Rock National Park
Continuing on roughly 20 mins from Ebor Falls is a bunch of ancient granite boulders perched high above the New England Tablelands. Cathedral Rock National Park is located 125km (two hours) from Coffs Harbour. There are two campgrounds and fantastic hiking trails, perfect for an overnight stay with friends. Hike up to the summit of Cathedral Rock with your camera for sunset. You’ll feel on top of the world with 360-degree views! Be especially mindful of children and elderly hikers around the summit – the rocks can be slippery and there are very steep drop-offs.
Wollomombi Falls – Oxley Wild Rivers National ParkView this post on Instagram
Wollomombi Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in Australia (in fact the tallest in NSW!). If you love a rugged landscape, Wollomombi Falls should be on your must-see list. You’ll find it halfway between Armidale and Ebor off Waterfall Way. Best experienced after heavy rainfall when the Wollomombi River plummets over 220 metres into the valley below. If you’re keen for some exercise then take a hike along Chandler walking track or Wollomombi walking track both starting from Wolllomombi Falls picnic area. Nearby Wollomombi campground is great to spend a night or two.
From 2020: All camping spots in NSW national parks require a booking, even locations that previously didn’t require one.