Waterfall Way scenic drive

Dorrigo National Park

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Overview

The 185km Waterfall Way scenic drive links Coffs harbour and Armidale, passing rainforest, river valleys and waterfalls, including New England and Dorrigo national parks.

Where
Dorrigo National Park
Accessibility
Easy
Distance
185km one-way
Time suggested
2hrs 30min
Grade
Easy
Please note

There may be no mobile reception at different areas along this drive.

You could cover Waterfall Way scenic drive in about 2.5 hours, but with so many amazing stops along the way, it could take you all day. Starting at Coffs Harbour, the scenic drive traverses 5 national parks and winds through lush rainforest, waterfalls, open woodlands and farmland as you approach Armidale.

The road winds steeply through the lush rainforest of Dorrigo National Park to a height of 750m at Dorrigo Mountain. Wollomombi Gorge and Falls picnic area, near Armidale, has one of the state’s highest drops and should not be missed.

Other highlights of the drive include Point lookout in New England National Park, the granite tors in Cathedral Rock National Park, and Ebor Falls.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Map


Map


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Map legend

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/driving-routes/waterfall-way-scenic-drive/local-alerts

General enquiries

Park info

  • in Dorrigo National Park in the North Coast region
  • Dorrigo National Park is open daily (except Christmas Day) 9am to 4.30pm but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Waterfall Way scenic drive.

Getting there and parking

Waterfall Way scenic drive begins on the NSW North Coast. To get there:

  • Turn off Pacific Highway at Raleigh, 20min south of Coffs Harbour.
  • Take Waterfall Way to Dorrigo (40min) and continue on to Ebor and Point lookout (75km west of Dorrigo).

Parking

Parking is available at all visitor sites along the way.

Best times to visit

The weather at Dorrigo National Park can vary from warm to mild to cool, depending on the time of year you visit. The summer months usually have the highest rainfall.

Spring

The rainforest is alive with birdlife - walk the Lyrebird Link for a close up view.

Summer

Escape the summer heat along one of the waterfall tracks and feel the coolness envelope you.

Maps and downloads

Safety messages

Mobile safety

Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency Plus app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

River and lake safety

The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you're visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips.

Accessibility

Disability access level - easy

  • Accessible toilets, walks, lookouts and carparks available at Dorrigo Rainforest Centre, Ebor Falls, Point lookout and Wollomombi Gorge and Falls picnic area.

Prohibited

Pets

Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dogs and see the pets in parks policy for more information.

If you're travelling through a national park or reserve on a public road you can have pets inside your vehicle. However, you must keep them inside your vehicle while driving through national parks or reserves. You must also comply with any conditions in the park’s plan of management, and you cannot stop to visit the park or use park facilities (unless for safety reasons, or to use publicly accessible toilets).

Smoking

NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

Visitor centre

Learn more

Waterfall Way scenic drive is in Dorrigo National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

A wide range of animals

Australian brush-turkey (Alectura lathami), Dorrigo National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary

Dorrigo National Park plays home to many different animals, including 30 types of mammals, more than 128 kinds of birds and 44 species of amphibians and reptiles. The dense forest is the ideal hiding place for reptiles, so you'll need to be very quiet and patient in order to catch a glimpse. Look for the southern angle-headed dragon clinging to the trunks of trees along the Wonga walk and the red-necked pademelon on the lawn by the Rainforest Centre.

  • 14-day coastal tours from Sydney to Cairns Unleash your spirit of adventure on a sweeping East Coast tour with Via Travel Australia. Let each new day bring more enchanting sites to discover and enjoy, from Gondwana Rainforests to cascading waterfalls and sublime surf beaches.
  • Gondwana Rainforests and waterfalls guided tours Venture out for a sweeping North Coast tour of stunning waterfalls, beautiful rivers and valleys, and the ancient rainforests of Dorrigo National Park with the friendly guides of Waves to Wilderness Experiences.
  • Lyrebird Link track Lyrebird link is an easy walking track in Dorrigo National Park near Coffs Harbour. It is a great spot for birdwatching and there are picnic and barbecue areas nearby.
  • Satinbird stroll Satinbird stroll is an easy access trail through Dorrigo’s World Heritage rainforest, ideal for all the family, and offers birdwatching and a great place to picnic.
  • Sensing the rainforest at Dorrigo National Park Join us and explore the rainforest in this Stage 3 (Years 5-6) geography excursion in Dorrigo National Park. Students will examine the wonders of the Gondwana Rainforest, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site.

Dramatic waterfalls

Walk with the Birds boardwalk, Dorrigo National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary

The area is renowned for its dramatic waterfalls; so much that part of the park was first reserved in 1901 to protect the Sherrard and Newell Falls along the Waterfall Way. Today, there are a number of great rainforest walks in the park, try the Crystal Shower Falls walk for a journey behind the falls, or the longer Casuarina Falls circuit that offers views of Dorrigo Mountain and Rosewood River Valley.

  • Volunteer at Dorrigo Rainforest Centre Join a fun and passionate team of people when you become a volunteer at Dorrigo Rainforest Centre shop. Help show off Dorrigo National Park to visitors from around world. Explain the park’s activities and offer information about the nearby town of Dorrigo.

Rich Aboriginal heritage

Blackbutt track, Dorrigo National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary

Dorrigo National Park aims to manage Aboriginal sites, many of which are associated with natural features in the landscape. Involving local Aboriginal custodians in managing their traditional homelands, and continuing their connection to country, is a priority in Dorrigo National Park.

World Heritage rainforests

The Skywalk, Dorrigo National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary

The rainforests in Dorrigo National Park are part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area; the most extensive strip of diverse rainforest anywhere on earth. The World Heritage Area is a direct window into the past and the future, providing a link to the ancient pre-human world and a stunning and irreplaceable record of life on our planet. You can explore the rainforest on one of the many walking tracks, like the Lyrebird Link that leaves from the Rainforest Centre.

  • 14-day coastal tours from Sydney to Cairns Unleash your spirit of adventure on a sweeping East Coast tour with Via Travel Australia. Let each new day bring more enchanting sites to discover and enjoy, from Gondwana Rainforests to cascading waterfalls and sublime surf beaches.
  • 8-day NSW North Coast and Tablelands walking tour Join ParkTours for an 8-day walking holiday and discover the spectacular sights of the NSW North Coast and Northern Tablelands. Explore country towns, see stunning landscapes and go wildlife spotting.
  • Lyrebird Link track Lyrebird link is an easy walking track in Dorrigo National Park near Coffs Harbour. It is a great spot for birdwatching and there are picnic and barbecue areas nearby.
  • Sensing the Rainforest Sensing the rainforest is a Stage 1 (Years 1-2) school excursion in Dorrigo National Park, which focuses on HSIE. Students will explore the wonders of Dorrigo Rainforest - observing, listening, touching, smelling and searching to discover this special environment. It is a fun program for all ages, adults included.
  • Wonga walk Take a walk amongst subtropical rainforest and 600-year-old trees along the Wonga walk in Dorrigo National Park, home to the Tristania and Crystal Falls.

Plants and animals you may see

Animals

  • Satin bowerbird. Photo: Ken Stepnell

    Satin bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus)

    With vibrant blue-violet eyes and curious antics, the satin bowerbird is a favourite for bird watching and easy to spot as it forages for food in open forest. Relatively common across eastern Australia, in NSW they’re found in coastal rainforests and adjacent woodlands and mountain ranges.

  • Australian brush turkey, Dorrigo National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary

    Australian brush turkey (Alectura lathami)

    The Australian brush turkey, also known as bush or scrub turkey, can be found in rainforests along eastern NSW. With a striking red head, blue-black plumage and booming call, these distinctive Australian birds are easy to spot while bird watching in several NSW national parks.

  •  Superb lyrebird, Minnamurra Rainforest, Budderoo National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    Superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae)

    With a complex mimicking call and an elaborate courtship dance to match, the superb lyrebird is one of the most spectacular Australian animals. A bird watching must-see, the superb lyrebird can be found in rainforests and wet woodlands across eastern NSW and Victoria.

  • Eastern common ringtail possum. Photo: Ken Stepnell

    Common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus)

    Commonly found in forests, woodlands and leafy gardens across eastern NSW, the Australian ringtail possum is a tree-dwelling marsupial. With a powerful tail perfectly adapted to grasp objects, it forages in trees for eucalypt leaves, flowers and fruit.

Plants

  • Coachwood flower. Photo: Michael Van Ewijk

    Coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum)

    Coachwood trees are Australian native plants that grow in warm temperate rainforests along coastal NSW. Also known as scented satinwood, the mottled grey bark of the coachwood has horizontal markings and a delicate fragrance.

Environments in this park

Education resources (1)

School excursions (6)