An early start and another long driving day. However, unlike the day before, today’s route had plenty to engage a car full of kids. Known for being one of the most scenic drives in Australia, the ‘Waterfall Way’ linking Armidale and Dorrigo is 185km of rainforest, river valleys and waterfalls passing through the New England and Dorrigo national parks.
There are at least 14 waterfalls along the route but some are more popular and more accessible than others. Considering we had a 15 month old and a sizeable distance to cover, we stopped at only four. The first was Wollomombi Falls, a little over half an hour out of Armidale. Here walk along a ridge line to look across a gorge towards the opposite cliff face. At 260 metres high, the Wollomombi Falls had the potential to be quite spectacular. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in full flood (and the light wasn’t great for photographing it) so it lacked the wow factor for us.
Ebor Falls should not be missed though. Here you get two for your troubles; upper and lower, both with their own unique charms. Be warned though, even on a warm and sunny day, at 1300 metres altitude, the wind careering off the upper falls was enough to freeze our cheeks. I could imagine it might not be the most pleasant place to contemplate the universe if it were less than ideal conditions.
We had limited options for lunch in Ebor; a deserted roadhouse complete with flickering ‘open’ sign (visions of a horror film appearing before my eyes) or a tiny little teahouse called Fusspots whose owner seemed obsessed with all manner of teapots. Although I can’t say for sure what adorned the walls of the roadhouse, the scores of teapots around Fusspots amused kept our minds off the wait for our sandwiches and milkshakes.
From Ebor, the road winds through the lush rainforest to Dorrigo National Park. First stop here was the Dangar Falls, 2km off the main road. Had we had more time, we could have walked to the bottom for a swim but we had to suffice with just the view.
Our final stop was the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre, home to the famous Skywalk. The 50m tree top boardwalk offers a bird’s eye view of the rainforest canopy and panoramic view from the mountains to the ocean.
A little further down the road is the start of the Crystal Shower Falls walk. Heading into mid afternoon and with our littlies, we contemplated not doing the steep 3.5km return route, but in the end, we were glad we did it. The final falls and the suspension bridge to reach them were the highlight of the day. And the biggest plus was it tired them out and we had a nearly silent hour’s run into Coffs Harbour late that afternoon.