How often have you driven a route and not taken the time to explore? We are guilty of this, as while we are very familiar with the Pacific Highway route between Sydney and Brisbane we have not often taken the time to better explore the area between the two capital cities. For our upcoming trip we have decided that on our return that we will take some extra time and travel a different route.
We plan to explore the rainforests of northern New South Wales and the amazing Waterfall Way between Coffs Harbour and Armidale. Below is the route we plan to take and some of the sites we plan to visit along the way.
Gold Coast to Dorrigo
Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park
Our first step is to drive from the Gold Coast to Springbrook National Park (39km, 24 mi, 0:38 hrs) where we can visit Natural Bridge. As you can see from the photo below it looks amazing! There is a short walking circuit that we can do in one hour. Unfortunately we won’t be there at the right time of day to see the glow worms along the walking route, but maybe next time.
Wollumbin (Mt Warning) National Park
Our next stop is Wollumbin National Park (previously Mt Warning National Park) (67km, 42 mi, 1:13 hrs). Mt Warning is the dominant mountain on the northern New South Wales landscape, and every time I have driven through this area I have always wanted to get a bit closer. Mt Warning is the remains of an ancient volcano, and towers to 1,157m above sea level.
We plan to take the short Lyrebird walking track to explore this amazing national park, which is part of the heritage listed Gondwana Rainforest of Australia.
The stop on our route is the small town of Nimbin (45km, 29 mi, 0:52 hrs), which is well known as a quirky alternative town. We plan to have a wander around the centre of town and perhaps have some lunch or afternoon tea.
Travelling from Nimbin to Dorrigo
From Nimbin we plan to travel south to Dorrigo via the town of Casino. The route I have planned is via Summerland Way to Grafton, and to then travel via Armidale Road and Tyringham Rd to Dorrigo. In total this route is 265km, 165 mi, 3:29 hrs, so we may stay in Casino or Grafton but we may also decide to push through to Dorrigo on the same day.
Waterfall Way from Dorrigo to Armidale
We then plan to take a day to explore Waterfall Way between Dorrigo and Armidale, which is the 211km, 131 mi, 2:52 hr road which connects Coffs Harbour to Armidale and Uralla. Along the route there are many places to stop and see a series of lovely waterfalls and National Parks, with most places of interest only a short distance off the main road.
To the south of Dorrigo is Dorrigo National Park where we plan to visit the Skywalk which provides amazing views over the forest to the ocean. There are also waterfalls and more forest to explore along the Lyrebird Link track.
To the north of Dorrigo is Dangar Falls which also looks like a great place to visit and perhaps have a swim.
We then plan to drive to Ebor Falls, which is a 51km, 32 mi, 0:34 hr drive along Waterfall Way. There is a short walk to see the three main vantage points of this two tier waterfall.
The next stop (13km, 8 mi, 0:42 hrs) is Cathedral Rock National Park, which has the short Warrigal Walking track which is of interest.
And shortly afterwards we plan to take the turnoff to Point Lookout Road, where you can stop and see the view from Point Lookout over New England National Park, which is 1562m above sea level and on fine days has view to the ocean!
The next stop is the amazing Wollomombi Falls which are in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, which are approximately 5km south of the township of Wollomombi (34km, 21 mi, 0:38 hrs). Wollomombi Falls are one of the tallest in Australia, with a height of more than 200m.
From there we will continue the drive to Armidale where we plan to stay the night.
Road Trip from Armidale to Sydney
From Armidale we could choose to travel on the New England Highway, except that the last time we went through this area almost two years ago the roads were very congested by road works and it was a very slow trip.
An alternative route that a colleague suggested is that we could drive from Armidale via Gloucester, which is the gateway to Barrington Tops National Park. The trip is 474km, 295 mi, 5:45 hrs in comparison to the 474km, 295 mi, 4:49hr route along the New England Highway, so even if we do not have enough time to visit Barrington Tops National Park on this trip at least it will enable us to drive another road that we have not yet visited. Gloucester is about halfway along the route so would be a good place to stop for a break and explore for a short period of time.
Taking the Road Less Travelled
As you can see I am not sure how we will see everything in the three days we have allowed! But I am excited to plan this trip as we will all be seeing a part of Australia which we have not previously visited.
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Have you visited or are thinking about visiting either the northern New South Wales rainforest area or Waterfall Way? Please share your thoughts below.