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Wide panorama from tourist lookout in Dorrigo National park towards mountain ranges and hills covered by thick evergreen cold rainforests - a unique remainder of ancient Gondwana continent in Australia 7 days 6 nights

Waterfall Way Drive
New England Highlands

JOURNEY OUTLINE
TRIP PROFILE
Depart from:Coffs Harbour
Finish in:Port Macquarie
Best time to go:
  • Spring and early summer Gondwana Rainforest wildflowers and bird life at its busiest.
  • Summer contrasts from the heat of the coast, cool temperatures,  although it is the time for high rainfall.
  • Autumn, Armidale’s glorious display of deciduous leaf golds, the crackle, snap and crunch of autumn foliage as you walk the tracks.
  • Winter, the frozen icicles, clothing layers are necessary as temperatures drop below zero.
Trip Length:
  • 7 days
  • 6 nights
National Parks visited:
  • Bindarri
  • Dorrigo
  • Cathedral Rock
  • New England
  • Oxley Wild River
  • Mount Kaputar
  • Gibraltar Range National Parks
ROUTE MAP
PROPOSED ITINERARY
About Trip
Waterfall Way Drive
New England Highlands: 1 week scenic road trip

Waterfalls galore, glorious ancient forests circa Gondwana period, the hills, gorges and valleys of New South Wales are a repository of Australian flora and fauna. This is a road trip discovering the joys of forest exploration and the settlements and towns that call the New England highlands home. The traveller will be bedazzled by the quiet splendour and the sense of timelessness.

There will be time to relax in Armidale in local cafes, take a heritage walk through picturesque towns and explore the regional galleries. Take a pick of the season that appeals, whether it be wildflowers or autumn foliage.

Crystal Falls rock caven behind the falls Dorrigo National Park

Day 1
Coffs Harbour
Bindarri National Park and Dorrigo National Park

A great start to the journey is a waterfall. Bindarri National Park with Bangalore Falls a must-see destination. These spectacular waterfalls are easily accessible, however the area is recovering from bushfire destruction. This makes the visit special as we have an opportunity to see nature in recovery mode in a inherently beautiful, remote location. The short walk takes you past mature trees that escaped the former logging activities in the park. Bindarri adjoins World Heritage Dorrigo National Park. This provides a corridor for wildlife and vegetation to flourish.

Woman hiking in Rainforest of Dorrigo National Park, New South Wales

Stay

Platypus Flat campground, Nymboi-Binderay National Park @Rob Cleary

STAY options, there is no camping within Dorrigo National Park. 

Dorrigo Mountain Holiday Park: Dorrigo Accommodation | Escape The Daily Grind. A fully serviced powered and non-powered camping ground together with ensuite family cabins. 

Option two

Camping permitted at  Platypus Flat campground in Nymboi-Binderay National Park which is approximately 45 minutes or 34km from Dorrigo Rainforest Centre entrance. 

Platypus Flat campground is an idyllic setting among the tall trees and rugged granite gorges of Nymboi-Binderay National Park on the Dorrigo plateau. Overlooking the rainforest-lined river banks of Nymboida River, it’s an ideal spot for adventure-seekers who love kayaking, walking and fishing.

Day 2
Platypus Flat campground, Ebor Falls
Cathedral Rock National Park to New England National Park

Your journey through the Gondwana forests is well underway. You have options between relatively easy boardwalks and grade 5 walks which involve steep climbs and rocky steps. Ensure you consult walking track links for up to date information before attempting any tracks. Today’s waterfall highlight is Ebor Falls, then it’s onto Cathedral Rock is also home to wildlife such as Eastern grey kangaroo who prefer the open grassy areas, together with swamp wallabies.

Look up into the heights for wedge tailed eagles soaring above watching for the movement in the heath indicating the hunt is on.  Best time to visit Cathedral Rock is spring with the burst of colour from banksias, pixie cap, wattle and wax lip natives. Ground orchids flower year round.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo, NSW

Stay

The Residence, New England National Park @Robert Cleary

New England National Park there are a number of campgrounds or ensuite chalets to choose from, Thungutti campground, Toms Cabin, The Residence or The Chalet. Bookings are essential. Perhaps temptation calls you to stay another night. Ensure you have bookings confirmed beforehand. The Chalet is a gem within the park, it can be booked solid several months in advance. 

Day 3
Oxley Wild Rivers National Park
To Wollomombi Falls to Armidale

You have had a short detour to visit New England National Park. You can choose to skip New England National Park for more time at Dorrigo National Park and / or Cathedral Rock National Park. New England is included as it offers a diverse landscape, great accommodation choices within a national park as well as the spectacular spring flowers.

New England National Park to Wollomombi Falls to Armidale:

Walking tracks Australian National Parks

Stay

Exterior of East Kunderang Homestead @Michael van Ewijk

Accommodation is in Oxley Wild River National Park. There are a number of accommodation options within the Oxley National Park. The  East Kunderang Homestead, check for details, the campgrounds available are Apsley Falls campgroundBudds Mare campground, Riverside campground and picnic area, Long Point campground and picnic area | NSW National Parks, and Wollomombi campground. There are several more camping sites to choose from simply check the Oxley Wild River website for details. Forward booking is essential. 

Day 4
Armidale in depth
The heritage buildings & free afternoon

A day of exploring a rural town with a personality to match the spectacular waterfalls. Armidale has an ace up its sleeve with four National Parks within one hour drive. New England National Park, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, Cathedral Rock and Guy Fawkes River National Park. Autumn brings the picture postcard rural town a glorious display of deciduous leaf golds, the crackle, snap and crunch of autumn foliage as you walk the tracks.

The heritage buildings provide a sense of tradition that continues to be lived in and adapted to contemporary use making them not just museum pieces but part of the living heritage of Armidale. Armidale is entrancing.

Armidale @tinkamasala

Stay

@armidaletouristpark

Cabin Accommodation – Armidale Accommodation Armidale Tourist Park features cabins for every kind of traveller, from budget studio style cabins to new luxury 4 star cabin accommodation. Armidale Tourist Park also has three cabins specially designed for wheelchair access, and four cabins set aside for guests travelling with Pets.  Additionally there are powered and non-powered sites as well  as tent sites in the park grounds. 

Day 5
Armidale to Uralla to Walcha
Langford House

Today is about exploring local heritage sites, following the trail of a bushranger and soaking up the atmosphere of Walcha, a town that has successfully nurtured its artistic flair with a substantial collection of public art. You have a chance to sit on art, to touch art and enjoy art embedded in the landscape that created the piece.

Many of the works have been created using local timbers and abandoned scrap metal to repurpose into an art form. There is the grandeur of an Edwardian mansion to gawp at, contrasting to a settlers slab cottage as evidence of the settlers who established an agricultural base in the area. The traditional owners are acknowledged for their custodianship of the land and rivers.

Walcha, New South Wales @running_tom94

Stay

Walcha Guesthouse @walchagallery

Walcha Guesthouse is located in the centre of Walcha next to the art gallery. A family business, Walcha Guesthouse reuses the historic saddlery in the heart of Walcha and is situated next door to Cafe Graze. It combines heritage charm with contemporary design and modern facilities. For stopovers or long term stays, Walcha Guesthouse is a slice of contemporary comfort in New England.

Day 6
Walcha to Laurieton
Walcha to Gloucester to Laurieton

You are advised to follow Thunderbolt’s Way from Uralla to Gloucester as it follows a beautiful valley and does not have the sharp bends and curves of the Oxley. Oxley Highway Walcha to Port Macquarie is well known for its bends and sharp corners.

@thefruitshop_walcha

Stay

@Camden Head Pilot Station

Camden Head Pilot Station – Heritage Listed Facility in Dunbogan, NSW.

The heritage listed property is located at Dunbogan, 6km east of Laurieton. It occupies a magnificent Crown Land beachfront site overlooking Pilot and Wash House Beaches and the Camden Haven River Inlet, and adjoining Kattang Nature Reserve.

Day 7
Dooragan National Park exploration
Return to Port Macquarie

Laurieton to Perpendicular Point Walk and Kattang Nature Reserve

Perpendicular Point Walk is through Kattang Nature Reserve to a lookout point where the height of North Brother Mountain, Dooragan National Park dominates the horizon. LIghthouses always have the best views, part of the job description and Perpendicular Point sheer cliffs do not disappoint. While it’s a great place for whale watching you will need binoculars and it is a pinprick flash of a dorsal fin that alerts you. Similar to bird watching you could sight a whale very quickly, not at all or need patience to wait for nature’s display. Wildflowers and spring is guaranteed, honeyeaters gorging on nectar from banksias to feed their young.

Shiny coated black cockatoos have their favourite black she-oaks to nibble. The scent of boronia, flannel flowers, and the crisp everlasting daisy peek from the ground cover and bushes. 

Little whattle (honeyeater) summer bounty

Travel pack information

Eucalyptus trees in low fog in the Baw Baw National Park

Travel pack information

  • Support Australian Automobile Association. The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) is the peak organisation representing Australia’s motoring clubs and their eight million members. The AAA advances the interests of all road users to ensure transport systems are safe, affordable and transparent.
  • Waterfall Way NSW Parks brochure
  • New England Parks brochure
  • Guy Fawkes National Park
  • Dorrigo National Park
  • Cathedral Rock National Park
  • New England high country
  • Armidale heritage trail map
  • Waterfall Way
  • 20 walks in Wollongong surrounds
  • Walcha sculpture artists
  • Walcha open air gallery route map
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