Your Tour Guide to the Waterfall Way

Australia is full of iconic and classic drives to enjoy. From the Red Way Drive in the centre of Australia, fitting in all the classic central locations such as Kakadu and Uluru, to The Great Ocean Road in Victoria, coasting along the Victorian coastline from Torquay to Port Fairy and passing through the Great Otway National Park. Many of these drives are multi-day trips; some you can pass through in an afternoon. Often it depends on how much time you are willing to put in and how long you would like to stop off at each destination along the way. As the name suggests, there are more than a few waterfall spotting opportunities as well. 

One of the most popular scenic drives in Australia is the Waterfall Way drive in New South Wales. The drive stretches from the coastal town of Coffs Harbour inland to the town of Armidale. Across this 185-210 kilometre drive, you will pass through World-Heritage listed rainforest, national parks and stunning towns. There are few drives that pack so much into just under two-and-a-half hours of drive time. Although you could complete the drive in that time, it will take substantially longer, stopping off at national parks and towns to enjoy the scenery and hospitality of coastal and regional New South Wales. 

The drive typically starts in Coffs Harbour, although it can just as easily be driven in reverse starting in Armidale. Coffs Harbour is a classic New South Wales coastal town, with beaches, surf, bush, pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants. Coffs Harbour is a popular holiday destination, with a range of family-friendly activities on offer, such as art galleries, museums, bushwalking and whale spotting. With the added attractions of marine parks, a butterfly house and a dolphin conservation park, there is plenty to do before starting your drive. 

The second destination and the first place to arrive by car is Bellingen. Home to the stunning Bellinger River, there are plenty of heritage attractions and stunning nature spots to enjoy. It takes roughly 30-minutes by car to reach Bellingen from Coffs Harbour. With colonial and federation architecture, fantastic food, markets, festivals, national parks and outdoor activities, it is a jam-packed first location. The main attraction nearby is the Dorrigo National Park, a heritage-listed rainforest full of waterfalls, ancient trees, stunning walking trails and native animals. With over 30 types of mammals, 128 species of bird, and 44 amphibians and reptiles, Dorrigo is an extremely important nature sanctuary for many endangered species. A must is the Skywalk; pitched above the forest canopy, it offers stunning views and a unique perspective of the forest.

Also nearby is the Bongil Bongil National Park, home to one of the largest colonies of koalas in Australia.

See the small town of Dorrigo, a small urban island in the sea of parkland. Close to the town are the Dangar Falls, a 30-metre waterfall surrounded by rocks, a pool and lush vegetation. These are the kind of small spots that make their way onto tourism ads, but people rarely venture out to see. 

From Dorrigo, next is a 30-minute drive to Ebor, the centre of Waterfall Way. From Ebor, you are a stone's throw away from Guy Fawkes River, Oxley Wild Rivers, Nymboi-Binderay New England and Cathedral Rock National Parks. Very few places in the world offer such national park variety, with parks in every direction just outside town. Ebor is home to Ebor Falls, a 100-metre waterfall surrounded by steep cliffs and vegetation. There are multiple lookouts at which to see the falls. Venture into any of these national parks for unspoilt nature.

A 45-minute drive from Ebor, continuing west, is Wollomombi, a village on the edge of the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. Wollomombi river is one of your best chances to see a platypus in the wild. To increase your odds, look at dawn or dusk, around tree roots and enclaves in the river. The Wollomombi gorge has a spectacular viewing platform.

The final leg of the drive is a 35-minute drive from Wollomombi to Armidale. With the epithet, the Cathedral City, Armidale is full of heritage-listed buildings. Many old hotels, post offices, banks and government buildings have received a new lease on life as pubs, restaurants, and bars. See art galleries, museums, national trust buildings, the Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place, as well as a number of terrific places to eat. Sample some local craft beer or stock up on supplies at the Armidale Farmers Market (second Sunday of the month). 

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