Waterfall Way is a tourist drive that stretches from Armidale, in the Northern Tablelands of NSW, out to Coffs Harbour on the Mid North Coast. The 165 kilometre drive is considered one of the best in the country.
There are seven different national parks to visit over the course of the drive; some you drive through and some you can visit on short detours. Since this area is quite high, there are quite a few waterfalls in these parks, as well as picnic areas, walks (sometimes required to the waterfalls) and views. However, the drive's name actually comes from two waterfalls to road goes over in Dorrigo National Park.
At the Armidale end of Waterfall Way, there's a typically New England landscape of granite rocks and farm country. The first national park at this end is Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, which has waterfalls like Dangars Falls in Dangars Gorge and Wollomombi, which is the tallest waterfall in the state and can only be reached by an unsealed road.
In New England National Park, there's Ebor Falls, one of the area's most popular waterfalls, while Cathedral Rock National Park offers a chance to take a break from the dramatic gullys of the other parks. It's home to Cathedral Rock (which you need to walk out to, as it cannot be reached by car).
By the time you get to Dorrigo National Park, the last park, the landscape is a lot different; full of rainforests and much brighter greens. A small detour just before you enter it will take you to Dangar Falls, which I recommend as one of the easiest waterfalls to get to and the best for families; it's visible from a platform at the car park and there's even play equipment.
Once you're in the park, don't miss the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre, which has gift shop, exhibition space and a cafe. There's an amazing view out to the coast from the Skywalk and the centre is also the start of an almost six kilometre loop which passes Crystal Shower Falls and Tristiana Falls, quite different waterfalls to the ones further inland.
Crystal Shower Falls in Dorrigo National Park
Leaving Dorrigo you pass over the two waterfalls that give the route its name--Newell and Sherrard--and head out towards Bellingen.
The area around Bellingen pretty spectacular
At either end of Waterfall Way there are plenty of places to stay as well as other attractions, both natural and man-made. Armidale is known for its Gothic architecture, while nearby Glen Innes is a good place for fossicking and Tamworth is Australia's country music capital.
The entire area is also part of Thunderbolt Country (named after a bushranger who once roamed the area) and the small town of Walcha, just south of Armidale, has an Walcha Open Air Gallery and is near another entrance to Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, where you'll find Apsley and Tia waterfalls.
At the other end of Waterfall Way you're not far from Coffs Harbour, which has the Big Banana, beaches and Dolphin Marine Magic. There's plenty of accommodation here, as there is in most towns in the area, while camping is permitting is some of the national parks.
Where: Between Armidale and Coffs Harbour in northern NSW
When: Clear days are best for appreciating the views and landscape along this drive