Wandering along Waterfall Way

Waterfall Way conjures images of cascading waters in lush rainforest settings, but that’s only half the magic of this scenic drive from Bellingen to Armidale.

The Thirsty Travellers were keen to explore the route, which has been rated one of the most magnificent in NSW. After spending a few days on the coast, we turned off the highway and headed west, arriving in the quaint hinterland town of Bellingen at dusk.

Hungry after a day of exploring Smoky Cape Lighthouse and South West Rocks, we nabbed a table at the Federal Hotel for dinner.

The pub serves delicious food, from staples such as classic schnitties to Barramundi fillets in a sunflower parmesan and thyme crumb, served on a warm pumpkin, fetta, green bean and baby spinach salad topped with tomato basil salsa.

It was a great start to our Waterfall Way adventure, sitting in the atmospheric beer garden sipping The Lane Chardonnay on the first night of Spring.

We returned to the picturesque main street the next morning, which is filled with turn-of-the-century buildings housing boutiques and cafes. After window shopping, we stopped for excellent coffee, toasties and bacon, gruyere and leek tarts at the Hearth Fire Bakery.

Then it was time to hit the road, with our first stop being the Dangar Falls in Dorrigo. Dorrigo lies on the edge of the Great Dividing Range escarpment and the falls are just outside of the sleepy town and easily accessible.

We then wandered through part of the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest via Dorrigo Rainforest Centre. The centre features the Skywalk (above), with stunning views out to Coffs Harbour, plus the well-constructed Wonga Walk, which winds for two to three hours past the picturesque Tristania and Crystal Falls.

We burned almost 1000 calories during the walk, which we replenished with sausage rolls from the woodfired bakery in Dorrigo.

Coming out of the mountains, the plains were bone dry and secretive, you’d never guess there were deep gorges and dramatic waterfalls hiding in the surrounding Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.

We’d been hoping to visit Wollomombi Falls – at over 200 metres, its the second highest waterfall in Australia – but the road was closed for maintenance, so we had to make do with the nearby Chandler Falls.

We’re also sorry to have missed seeing where the Guy Fawkes River plunges 100 metres over two waterfalls at Ebor Falls (above, left). But the light was fading and we were due in Willow Tree for our next adventure – dinner at the famed steak restaurant Graze.

Traversing Waterfall Way is a beautiful experience and well worth adding to your driving holiday bucket list.

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