Start: Coffs Harbour, NSW
Finish: Armidale, NSW
Estimated Driving Time: 2 hrs 20 min (not including stops)
Considered one of the most picturesque drives in the state, this excursion takes you cruising down the stunning Waterfall Way, through World Heritage listed national parks. Stop-offs include dramatic waterfalls, gorges and scenic views at every stage.
The Waterfall Way begins on the coast at Coffs Harbour before heading inland through the New England region and finishing in the picturesque country town of Armidale. Although the drive is only 188km long, you will see everything from rainforests to lush countryside and wide, open plains on this enjoyable journey. If you're planning to drive through this scenic road, why not hire a car from our Sydney Office?
Located almost halfway between Brisbane and Sydney, the beachside city of Coffs Harbour is an Australian tourism favourite. Set in the heart of the Coffs Coast, the city is famous for its beautiful beaches, the literally unmissable Big Banana theme park and its friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Generations of Sydney and Queensland locals have holidayed here for its family-friendly feel. For picnic supplies before your drive, load up the car with supplies before your drive, is the Coffs Harbour Jetty Markets which are held every Sunday.
Coffs Harbour and coastline; Destination NSW
Heading south for 30 minutes, you will make your way through the scenic green plains of the Bellingen Valley before reaching the small town of Bellingen. Known locally for its new-age vibe and laid-back atmosphere, this township is worth exploring. Originally a farming community, the population nowadays tends to be made up of artists, writers and musicians.
Bellingen village shops; Hamilton Lund, Destination NSW
Fifteen kilometres west of Bellingen is Thora, another small village at the base of Dorringo National Park. Keen fishers head here for trout fishing from the banks of the Bellingen River. The scenery in this part of the world is fantastic with sprawling expanses of forest and mountain ranges.
Never Never Creek near Thora; Hamilton Lund, Destination NSW
Your next point of interest before reaching Dorrigo is Sherrard Falls, a picturesque waterfall oasis which is visible from the road. Unfortunately it's quite difficult to stop here as there is no car park, but a leisurely drive past allows you to appreciate the sight of the towering falls.
Scenic waterfalls punctuate your scenery on this road trip
Dorrigo National Park
Fourteen kilometres further north you’ll find one of the highlights of the Waterfall Way, Dorrigo National Park, accessed via the town of Dorrigo. The park is famous for its lush swathes of rainforest and is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of the Australia World Heritage Area. Animal lovers will be thrilled by the variety of animals and birds that call the park home. Look out for red-necked pademelons, lyrebirds, the brightly coloured wompoo fruit-dove and the regent bowerbird. There are several picnic and barbecue spots, a cafe and a number of walking trails and boardwalks for you to explore.
Stop for some bird-watching at Dorrigo National Park; Hamilton Lund, Destination NSW
For views across the rainforest canopy, all the way to the Pacific Ocean, don't miss the chance for a panoramic photo-opp from the breathtaking elevated boardwalk with. This must-see attraction is found at the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre.
Skywalk at Dorrigo; Destination NSW
New England World Heritage National Park
A short drive south-west of Dorrigo on the Waterfall Way is New England National Park. This natural wilderness has been millions of years in the making, so if you want to take your time and explore, there are several different accommodation options on offer, from camping to luxurious residences. The well-marked walking trails take you through the ancient Gondwana rainforest, up steep valleys and by rugged rocky cliffs, for spectacular scenery. Point Lookout is a highlight, rising 1,564 metres above sea-level on the edge of the Great Escarpment. Accessible from its car park, the lookout has two viewing platforms, looking out across the World Heritage rainforest to the Pacific Ocean in the distance.
Cathedral Rock National Park
A slight detour from Waterfall Way takes you to Cathedral Rock National Park, a wilderness complete with grazing wallabies and ancient rocks. The park makes a good stop-off point thanks to its scenic picnic ground and short walking trails, but if you want to stay longer, there are two campgrounds and longer bush walks to walk off your energy.
Heading east along Waterfall Way you reach the Wollomombi Falls, one of the highest falls in the country. The spectacular single fall cascades 220 metres down to the valley below, with the views at their most spectacular after heavy rain. Access to the falls is by a turn off 1.5km from the town of Wollomombi on the Waterfall Way towards Armidale. Roughly 10km west of Wollomombi Falls is the Bakers Creek Falls lookout where you can enjoy stellar views over the Bakers Creek Gorge.
A sheep muster at Wollomombi; North Sullivan, Destination NSW
You've reached the end of Waterfall Way when you arrive at the large country university town of Armidale. There's plenty to do here, all set against a backdrop of beautifully preserved colonial buildings. Arts fans shouldn't miss the New England Regional Art Museum, the centrepiece of the town's flourishing arts and cultural scene.
A National Trust homestead at Armidale