200kms from sky to sea, Waterfall Way is one unforgettable scenic drive. The drive itself could take anything from 2 hours to 2 years, but I recommend taking it slowly, allowing plenty of time to appreciate the historic townships and World Heritage Parks along the way. There are 11 National Parks in the region and 3 of these are World Heritage listed, New England National Park, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park and Dorrigo National Park. This makes the area very unique and pristine.
Waterfall Way begins high on the Great Dividing Range at the historic township of Armidale, which lies mid-way between Brisbane and Sydney on the New England Highway. There are many established parks and Federation buildings to admire in town before you depart. The drive heads due east out of town and it is not long before signage to the first waterfalls appear. Dangar Falls lie 23 kms out of Armidale and Wollombombi Falls are around 41 kms along Waterfall Way. The next major falls lie at Ebor, where there is a cute cafe going by the name of Fusspots.
Looking up into the canopy along Wonga Walk, Dorrigo National Park
Definitely stop in at Dorrigo National Park. The Dorrigo Rainforest Centre is a short detour (only 7.6kms) off Waterfall Way and is well worth the visit, especially if travelling with children. Not only is the Rainforest Centre educational, they will love pressing all the buttons to make the bird noises and switching the light to see the nocturnal animals on display. The Rainforest Shop stocks many unusual gifts and The Canopy Cafe next door provides great refreshments before you venture into the wilds of the rainforest.
Elevated boardwalks reduce damage to the ancient forests.
From there you can step onto the amazing Dorrigo Skywalk, which is a platform raised high above the rainforest canopy, offering bird's eye views of the Gondwana Rainforest and World Heritage Parks in the region. There are some short (Lyrebird Link - 400m) and longer walks (Wonga Walk - 6kms) which begin at this point as well.
Looking up towards Dorrigo from the Bellinger Valley
Back on Waterfall Way, the road passes some small but impressive waterfalls, such as Newell Falls, as it drops and winds down, down, down 1000 meters to sea level. After all that mountain air, you won't be able to resist stopping in at "Bello" for a treat, gallery hopping or some boutique shopping. The little town sits alongside the Bellinger River and has a reputation for its alternative artistic scene. Stop in at the Old Butter Factory for some live music if you're lucky.
Waterfall Way is a great way to experience Australia's untouched rainforests and the drive will be magic at any time of the year. For those travelling between Brisbane and Sydney by car, this is the perfect way to combine the inland (New England) and coastal (Pacific) highways in the one journey, deviating exactly half way. Enjoy, and safe driving.