I love Waterfall Way. This scenic drive from Coffs Harbour to Armidale is surely one of Australia’s greatest roadtrips. Hence why I’ve driven this route twice in the past 12 months! In a short stretch of only 185km, there are many different waterfalls that are easy to walk to. Here’s my pick of the top 8 waterfalls along Waterfall Way.
I’m Melissa (Liss) Connell and this is my personal travel blog. The Slow Lane chronicles my Aussie adventures in my 1974 Kombi, with my furry sidekick Sandy. As the co-founder of Exploring Eden Media, I write articles (and post books) as I travel. Check the postage stamp on your book order and you’ll see where I am right now!
You can comfortably drive Waterfall Way over a weekend. But, to really explore the region I recommend taking your time over the course of a week. Stop into the quaint cafes in the villages along the way; savour the bird calls and the towering canopies of ancient Gondwana rainforests; and meet friendly locals (both human and of the animal variety) that call this picturesque region home.
When’s Best: Straight after rainfall, when the falls are flowing. But check road conditions first! Or Spring, when wildflowers like everlasting daisies and native violets are in bloom.
Vehicle: No need for 4×4. A 2wd is fine.
Accommodation: There are plenty of amazing campspots in the national parks, or you can stay at an Airbnb. I recommend ‘Toona Vale’ in Dorrigo.
Dogs Welcome? Unfortunately not in Australian national parks. Sorry, Sandy dog.
1. Dangar Falls
2km north of the little town of Dorrigo is a 30m cascading waterfall called Dangar Falls. There’s a viewing platform near the carpark at the top, or you can walk 15 minutes downhill to the huge swimming hole.
It was absolutely thundering during my recent visit to the waterfall, thanks to a late-summer downpour of 255mm of rain in 7 days. On this trip, I travelled Waterfall Way with my brother, Scotty, who was visiting at the time (from the Kimberley). He swam behind the waterfall and spent a good half hour sitting on a ledge behind the cascade, hooting with stoke at having the swimming hole all to himself.
The human spirit needs places where nature has not been re-arranged by the hand of manJohn Muir
2. Crystal Shower Falls
This gorgeous droplet waterfall was my 2nd favourite along Waterfall Way (see # 7 for my fave) for three main reasons. First, I really enjoyed the 30 minute walk in because of the feeling of being enveloped by ancient subtropical rainforest. There were small birds everywhere and some beautiful old trees, some estimated to be around 600 years. Second, the swinging suspension bridge was a lot of fun and it also gave a spectacular front-on view of the waterfall. And third, I loved the cavern behind the waterfall that allowed us to walk behind and look out at the forest through the curtain of water.
You can begin your walk from Dorrigo Rainforest Centre (which also has a really cool skywalk), or from the carpark you can walk through the Glade Picnic Area to connect with Wonga Walk.
3. Tristania Falls
This 20m waterfall is located a further 20 minutes past Crystal Shower Falls along the Wonga Walk. Tristania flows year-round and there’s a footbridge in front of the falls that offers fantastic views. Be sure to stop in to the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre and check out the Skywalk while you’re here.
4 & 5. Newell Falls and Sherrard Falls
As you wind your way up (or down) Dorrigo Mountain, where the road straddles the peak of the Great Dividing Range, you’ll be in for a roadside treat. Well, two actually! Newell Falls and Sherrard Falls both cascade down the hillside, running beneath the road and continuing to gush down the mountain from an opening on the other side of the road. There are spots to safely pull over so that you can take snaps. We were lucky to arrive just days after heavy rain, when the waterfalls were at their best and the road had recently re-opened (yep, it shuts after heavy downpours).
6. Ebor Falls
At Ebor Falls, the Guy Fawkes River cascades 100m over two waterfalls and the top fall’s viewing platform is only steps from the car parking area. There are actually three viewing platforms; one of the upper falls, another of the lower falls and then one that provides a glorious vista out over the surrounding countryside, which seemingly stretches on forever. Keep your eyes peeled for the endangered brush-tailed rock-wallaby, which I’ve been fortunate enough to spot. Plenty of little birdies, too.
7 & 8. Wollomombi Falls and Chandler Falls
I’ve saved the best for last. This is a sentimental spot for me as I’ve been returning here for years, ever since my Exploring Eden business partner, Brendan, sent me here to write a story for AC+RV Magazine (the mag that he was Editor for, at that time). The vast canyon, untamed forest and wild rivers brings to mind the landscape of Alaska or Canada. But, with some Aussie bush scenery thrown in.
Australia’s 2nd highest waterfall, Wollomombi Falls is over 200m high and it’s glorious to see at any time, but especially after rain. The nearby Chandler Falls is also spectacular. The first look-out is very easy to access, literally 20 steps from the carpark. There are more walking trails, giving you a better look at the falls. And the picnic area and campground are also fantastic. Waking up here and watching the sun creep up the valley walls as the fog lifts is truly a memorable experience.
Thanks for reading! Drop back from time-to-time as Sandy and I continue our journey to the Kimberley, Western Australia (I will upload more blogs – read them all here). And please – if any of the information has changed or if you know of more great spots, please leave them in the comments below 🙂