New England Combo Track
North Coast NSW
New England National Park
A walk for experienced hikers that combines the Lyrebird and Cascades Tracks and Wrights Lookout, for a walk with expansive views, lush rainforest and beautiful cascades and waterfalls.
This lightly trafficked walk starts from the car park for the Residence and Chalet cabin accommodation, at the end of Banksia Point Road.
Start on the Lyrebird loop track, completing it in a clockwise direction, starting from the trailhead to the left of the Chalet.
The walk begins atop the plateau and almost immediately delivers on expansive views of the surrounding ranges.
The track quickly begins to descend into ancient Gondwana rainforest, through incredible rock formations and fallen trees covered in moss and fungi.
The walk junctions with other shorter walks in the area, including Weeping Rock, which is worth the short side-track to visit. Otherwise, stay right at each junction, following signs for the Lyrebird Track.
Wooden boardwalks take you through a stack of hulking rocks that have produced a tunnel of sorts, followed by a large set of rocky steps.
There are also beautiful mossy wooden steps and a set of metal steps to navigate a steeper section.
The walk then runs adjacent to the bottom of the towering cliff line, continuing its decent, but at a milder gradient.
Be sure to look up at the sheer size of the cliffs and look for impromptu small waterfalls off the cliffs after rain.
Listen for lyrebirds, which are plentiful in the area, whose calls can be heard echoing through the valley or can be seen scratching around the undergrowth foraging for food.
You will pass a junction that allows you to shorten the walk, by returning via Tree Fern Valley (1.5 km walk in total).
At the midway point of the Lyrebird loop there is a junction with the Robinsons fire trail. Turn left, following signs to the Cascades Track.
It is suggested to do the steep side-trail to Wrights Lookout first, while you have more energy.
Clamber up the rocky steps for a short but very steep climb (limited exposure) to the top of the plateau, which is actually the ancient trachyte remnant of Ebor Volcano.
The lush rainforest is replaced by dry, low heath and rocky outcrops offering spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding area, including down to Bellinger River. In spring, the heathlands come to life with colourful wildflowers.
Then, retrace your steps back down to the trailhead for the Cascades Track.
As you enter the rainforest the walk becomes more beautiful. The next junction represents the start/end of the Cascades Track loop. Continue straight (left) to complete the loop in a clockwise direction for a more forgiving elevation profile.
The loop begins under the cliffs of Wrights Lookout before slowly descending deeper into the valley and rainforest via sets of mossy wooden stairs, finally arriving at Five Day Creek.
As you reach the creek, you will see scattered Antarctic beech trees, as well as giant king ferns and fungi. The creek is full of mossy boulders, with countless cascades and some lovely small waterfalls.
The track beside the creek lasts almost a kilometre and is at times steep, rocky and slippery, with quite an exposed drop down into the creek below at some points, so care and attention is required.
The track then moves away from the creek and begins to climb back out of the valley to the start of the loop junction. From there retrace your steps back to the junction with the Lyrebird Track.
Head off the fire trail, back into the forest and head left to start the long, gradual ascent back to the top of the plateau.
As you reach the plateau, the vegetation changes significantly, to drier heath, stringybarks and banksia trees. Wooden boardwalks take you through bushland that gets very wet underfoot after rain.
The trees then give way to spectacular uninterrupted views of the surrounding ranges, including across to Wrights Lookout.
Traverse the rocky terrain across the plateau, before moving back into the forest. There is a particular section of scattered Antarctic beech trees that is especially beautiful.
You will pass another junction with the Tea Tree Falls Track – simply continue straight. The walk finishes at a slightly different point, on the other side of the Chalet – but only about 50 metres from the starting point.
New England National Park can be visited as part of the 185 km Waterfall Way scenic drive from Coffs Harbour to Armidale.
Track: The track consists mostly of graded paths, with wooden boardwalks and rocky sections along the plateau and rocky sections along the creek, which can be steep for short periods. There are numerous steps on the trail, including large rocky steps, as well as wooden and metal stairs.
The track is well-signed and easy to follow, however there are a lot of junction points, so care is required to choose the correct direction.
Difficulty: The track requires a high degree of fitness and involves considerable elevation. Care is required at some of the steeper step sections, particularly the rocky steps. Those with balance issues may find some sections beside the creek challenging, with large rocky steps that are often slippery and exposure to a drop into the creek at a number of points.
Direction: This is two combined loop tracks with an out-and-back side-track at the mid-way point that returns the way it came. While the loops track can be completed in any direction, it is recommended to do both in a clockwise direction for a more forgiving elevation profile.
The trail starts from the car park for the Residence and Chalet cabin accommodation, at the end of Banksia Point Road – approximately 5.25 hours drive south of Brisbane, 1 hour drive east of Armidale, 2 hours drive west of Coffs Harbour or 6.5 hours drive north of Sydney.
Much of the road into New England National Park is unsealed (approximately 12 kms), however is suitable for 2WD vehicles in normal weather conditions.
Parking is limited, but typically sufficient for how trafficked the walk is.
best time to go
The walk can be completed year-round.
Like any walk involving waterfalls and rivers, it is best done after recent rain. However, if completing after recent rain, be sure to check the New South Wales Parks and Wildlife Service website for updates regarding flooding and track closures.
Note that there are park fees associated with entering many national parks in New South Wales. Check the New South Wales Parks and Wildlife Service website for more information.
Remember, whenever venturing into the outdoors, practice the Leave No Trace principles and be considerate of others. This means: dispose of your waste properly, don't remove things or move things from their natural position and respect all wildlife. Also be sure to plan ahead and adequately prepare for any adventure.
I respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which all activities listed on this website are found, as well as Elders past, present and emerging. I strive to not promote sites where requests have been made for people not to explore due to the cultural significance of the site to Indigenous peoples, or note how to respectfully visit a site. If I have a promoted a site with cultural significance, please send me a message and let me know.