The Waterfall Way is a 165km road that runs from the Pacific Highway along the coast, through Bellingen, to Armidale in the New England Tablelands. It’s a wonderfully scenic drive with plenty to see, including rainforest, waterfalls and green valleys dotted with fat cows. We drove through in autumn and the blaze of red and yellow leaves splashed colour on the countryside.
The arts and crafts capital of the Coffs Coast hinterland, Bellingen is a beautiful little town that overlooks the Bellinger River. There’s a peaceful, artistic and alternative feel to the place, with many inhabitants and visitors being spiritual and environmentally conscious.
We preferred Bellingen over Niimbin and Byron Bay, as there were no major supermarkets, brand names or blatant drug dealing. We ended up staying the night at the Bellingen YHA – our new favourite YHA. It was small and cosy, just like a share house, with trust and respect between the guests. It was more like a home than a hostel, and it had a beautiful deck, tranquil courtyard and a cute kitty wandering around.
On our way to Dorrigo, we encountered our first waterfall – Newell Falls. As the road wound around Dorrigo Mountain, the water from an unnamed creek flowed through a tunnel under the road. To get a better look, you‘ll need to stop at the nearby rest area, but remember that because the water is so close to the road, heavy rainfall and flooding can restrict access and visibility.
Located on the Dorrigo Plateau on the Great Dividing Range, it’s a bit of a climb to get into the little town. Dorrigo Mountain has an elevation of around 750m, and while there are a few mosaic murals around town, there isn’t much to see. It’s more like a waiting room for heaven than a tourist attraction.
The best thing to check out is the Red Dirt Distillery, the only distillery in Australia to do potato vodka. They also do a ripper gin and a delicious Nocino liqueur made with green walnut.
A few kilometres north of town is Dangar Falls. It has volcanic origins and is a worthy deviation from the Waterfall Way.
Holy moly, it was cold! We stopped here for lunch and could barely move our fingers as we made sandwiches. Even with four layers of clothes, gloves and a beanie, Juz’s lips had turned blue.
Ebor Falls is located within Guy Fawkes National Park and the upper lookout offers awesome views of the Guy Fawkes River cascading over the rocks. There’s also a lower lookout and valley view, which was so lovely that it made up for the cloudy day at the Best of All Lookout.
These falls are the second tallest falls in Australia after the Wallaman Falls near Ingham, plunging over 100 metres into the gorge from an elevation of 907 metres. The lookout provides great views into the gorge, and there are nearby picnic facilities if you want to stop for a bite to eat.
From here, Armidale is only 30 minutes away, signifying the end of the Waterfall Way.