Waterfall Way Scenic Drive
North Coast NSW
Allow 1-5 days
Elevation gain (m):
Max. elevation (m):
Click to see full image.
An incredibly scenic drive through rolling countryside and countless national parks, with ample opportunities to see waterfalls, lookouts, natural swimming holes and climb amazing rock formations.
This heavily trafficked scenic drive starts from either the B78 Highway Exit off the Pacific Highway in Urunga (just south of Coffs Harbour) or the B78 Highway Exit out of the eastern side of the town of Armidale.
The drive is jam-packed with a variety of sights and activities – both outdoorsy and more chilled, making it the perfect drive for anyone, including families.
The drive passes through more than 5 national parks, rolling green pastures, beautiful lush rainforest, waterfalls and river valleys, and includes opportunities for plenty of walks to lookouts, gorges, and up incredible rock formations.
The drive is 185 kms one-way but includes a decent amount of additional driving to see all of the highlights off the main B78 Highway. Expect to drive approximately 250 kms (one-way) in order to see all of the locations listed below.
It is suggested that you start from Armidale if possible, as you would then finish the drive with a stop at the tranquil Promised Lands in Belligen – a perfect place to unwind after doing walks long the way.
The most popular stops along the drive (starting from Armidale) are as follows:
Oxley Wild Rivers National Park (Northern Section)
New England National Park
Cathedral Rock National Park
Dorrigo National Park
Sherrard and Newell Falls
The Promised Lands (Never Never Creek)
Armidale is a historic little town, rich with art and culture. If you have spare time before starting the drive, consider visiting the Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Aboriginal rock art site and admiring old heritage buildings throughout the town. It is also a great location to pick up any last-minute supplies.
From there, the adventure begins, starting with the northern section of Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. Drive to the Wollomombi Falls Picnic Area, for dramatic views of the falls and into the gorge from the accessible Wollomombi Fall Lookout.
Walking tracks at this location include the moderate Wollomombi Track and more difficult Chandler Track, for more amazing gorge views and waterfalls, while the accessible Edgars Lookout is also worth a visit.
The drive then continues to New England National Park, an incredible pocket of Gondwana rainforest. The accessible Point Lookout is a must-do, with spectacular sunrise views, while Beech Lookout – just outside the park – offers great sunset views.
The park is a walker’s paradise. Shorter, easier walks include the Eagles Nest Track, Weeping Rock Track and Tea Tree Falls Track, while longer walks like the Lyrebird Track and Wrights Lookout offer panoramic views from the plateau, and the Cascades Track takes you along Five Day Creek.
The scenery then takes a dramatic turn as you enter Cathedral Rock National Park, where the rainforest is replaced by mammoth granite boulders and hulking rock formations.
The Cathedral Rock Loop Track and Summit is the star attraction and is a wonderful place to watch the sunset. Experienced walkers can also hike to Woolpack Rocks, while the Warrigal Track is an easy track with birdwatching opportunities.
Ebor Falls is the next destination, a must-do on the outskirts of the Guy Fawkes River National Park. Upper Ebor Falls is viewable from an accessible lookout, while those wanting to stretch their legs can walk along the ridge for views into the valley and of the lower falls.
Another must-do is Dangar Falls, just outside the township of Dorrigo. The falls can be viewed from above from an accessible lookout, with a longer walk taking you down steps and along a boardwalk to a natural swimming pool at the base of the falls.
Next up is Dorrigo National Park, where you return to the Gondwana rainforest for a plethora of lookouts and waterfalls. Easy walks include the accessible Skywalk Lookout and Lyrebird Link (from the Rainforest Centre) and Walk With The Birds and Satinbird Stroll (from the Glade Picnic Area).
If wanting to visit the famous Crystal Shower Falls – as well as the underrated Tristania Falls – the Wonga Walk (from the Rainforest Centre) or shorter Crystal Shower Falls Track (from the Glade Picnic area) are the top options.
Those looking to stretch their legs further should venture to the Never Never Picnic Area within Dorrigo National Park, where the Rosewood Creek Circuit, as well as Casuarina Falls, Red Cedar Falls and Callicoma Falls all beckon.
The walking tracks then give way to two unique roadside waterfalls – Sherrard Falls and Newell Falls – which both flow under the road. While it is not possible to stop and admire Sherrard Falls, there is a small turn-out near Newell Falls which provides a vantage point.
After all the driving and walking, it is only fitting to finish somewhere idyllic and relaxing. The Promised Lands on Never Never Creek is a magical place that needs to be seen to be believed. Walk along the banks of the creek, past large boulders, swimming in any of the many natural pools.
Depending on your itinerary, a stop in Bellingen or Coffs Harbour is nice. Bellingen is a quaint little town with cute shops and cafes, while Coffs is famous for the Big Banana, Forest Sky Pier and beaches.
Please note, there may be no mobile reception at different areas along this drive.
Difficulty: This is a scenic drive suitable for most drivers. The B78 Highway is a high-quality asphalt road, however is windy and narrow in sections. The highway is most often only one lane in each direction and overtaking opportunities can be limited in certain areas of the drive.
Some of the locations off the main highway are accessed via gravel roads, such as New England National Park, Cathedral Rock National Park, the Never Never section of Dorrigo National Park and Wollomombi Falls Picnic Area. That said, a 2WD is sufficient for these roads in good conditions.
While many of the walks are not wheelchair accessible, there are still lots of accessible sights along the drive, including Wollomombi Falls and gorge, Point Lookout (with assistance), Ebor Falls, Dangar Falls, the Dorrigo Skywalk Lookout and Edgars Lookout.
Direction: This drive is one-way.
Given that there may be no mobile reception at different areas along this drive, it is recommended that offline maps be downloaded onto your phone for navigation assistance.
The drive can be started from either the B78 Highway Exit off the Pacific Highway in Urunga (just south of Coffs Harbour) or the B78 Highway Exit out of the eastern side of the town of Armidale.
The Armidale starting location is approximately 5.25 hours drive south-west of Brisbane or 5.75 hours drive north of Sydney. The Urunga starting location is approximately 4.5 hours drive south of Brisbane or 5.5 hours drive north-east of Sydney.
It is suggested that you start from Armidale if possible, as you would then finish the drive with a stop at the tranquil Promised Lands in Belligen – a perfect place to unwind after doing walks along the way.
A 2WD is suitable for the drive, however some of the gravel road sections leading into the national parks may become difficult after heavy rain.
best time to go
The drive can be completed year-round, however the condition of some of the gravel roads leading into the national parks may be considerably more difficult after heavy rain.
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.