Dorrigo National Park is home to stunning rainforest and is one of the most accessible national parks in Australia. Located in New South Wales it is about an hours drive from Coffs Harbour or one hour 45mins from Armidale along the Waterfall Way. You can visit for the day from Coffs Harbour or spend a night or two in Dorrigo and give yourselves plenty of time to explore the park. Being on the edge of an escarpment means that there are lots of lookouts with wonderful views and plenty of waterfalls.
There are lots of marked walking tracks in Dorrigo National Park that start from two main areas. One of these areas is next to the Rainforest Centre. This is 2km off the highway from Coffs Harbour just before you get to the town of Dorrigo and the Rangers there are very helpful and have plenty of information about all the walks you can do in the Dorrigo National Park.
Just next to the centre is the Skywalk Boardwalk which takes you out over the trees for a fantastic view over the rainforest and lets you see as far as the coast on a clear day. It is an amazing feeling to be standing above the rainforest looking down on it and you really feel like you are on top of the world. The skywalk is wheelchair accessible.
One walk that we love in Dorrigo National Park is the Wonga Walk which starts from right next to the Rainforest Centre. It is a 6.6km circuit walk through rainforest which will take you around 2 to 2.5 hours. The path is fully sealed the whole way but can have a lot of leaves on it depending on the season and although you do have to walk uphill for a little way it is not too strenuous.
Along the way you pass the Tristania Falls and the Crystal Shower Falls. The Tristania Falls are beautiful and they hit rocks on the way down whereas the Crystal Shower Falls are higher but have just one drop. The ranger suggested we did the walk in a clockwise direction and that really pays off as the falls are more spectacular when you approach from that direction. The path takes you behind the Crystal Shower Falls which is an amazing experience.
On the way round you will see and hear lots of birds and if you are lucky, or unlucky depending on how you look at it, you may see some other animals. We saw a very strange looking lizard with a skin that looked like a mix of lizard and snake and we also saw a red bellied black snake which was basking in the sun. Gerry almost stood on it and I don’t know which one of them got the biggest shock but the snake got off the path just as fast as Gerry tried to get away from the snake!
If you don’t want to do such a long walk you can just do a small section of it from the centre to the Walk with Birds Boardwalk which is about a 45 min return or you could drive 1km from the centre to the Glade Picnic Area and from there the walk to the Crystal Shower Falls is 3.5km return and should take about an hour. This also cuts out the uphill section back up to the Rainforest Centre.
The Never Never Picnic Area is the other main area for walking tracks in Dorrigo National Park and it is 10km from the Rainforest Centre. The road to the picnic area is sealed for a couple of kilometres but then becomes a gravel road which is up and down the whole way. The ranger told us that we could cycle it but I would say you’d want to be very fit to cycle it comfortably. We decided it was called the Never Never Picnic Area because it felt like you would Never Never reach it!
The route is very pretty but would be better done in a four wheel drive rather than a standard car. At the picnic area there are quite a few tables in idyllic, remote surroundings, there are a couple of wood BBQs and wood to burn in them and a drop toilet. There is no running water so be sure to bring plenty of drinking water with you and nowhere to leave rubbish so you need to take that home with you. There are some scrub turkeys which live in this area and continually try to scavenge food from people even though notices everywhere say not to feed them!
The Rosewood Creek Circuit Track which starts from here is 5.5km and takes around 1.5 to 2 hours to complete. On this walk you pass the Coachwood Falls. There are extra sections that you can add to this walk if you want to see more falls such as the steep walk down to the Cedar Falls which is a return trip of only 2.2km extra but adds about 2 hours or the walk to the Casuarina Falls which would add about an extra hour. Unfortunately we didn’t get to do any of these extra sections as it had been raining heavily before we got there and the path was really wet. This brought out the leeches as we found out about 15 minutes into the walk when they started attaching themselves to us and as we only had training shoes on and no insect repellant to spray onto them and our legs we eventually gave up. The signs say that if they attach themselves to you simply BRUSH THE DELICATE CREATURES OFF. We didn’t find them very easy to BRUSH OFF and certainly didn’t find them to be very delicate!!
I would definitely suggest that if you are going to do any walks in Dorrigo National Park in the wet season wearing proper hiking boots and long socks and do spray them with insect repellant.
There are lots of other walks that you can do if you are in the area for a while and the Rangers at the Centre will give you information on them.
The Dorrigo National Park Rainforest Centre is open from 9am till 4.30pm 7 days a week and has a shop with books, postcards and other souvenirs available. Next to the shop is the Canopy Cafe which is open from 9am till 4pm and has homemade cakes, sandwiches and other meals along with lovely milkshakes. There are tables both inside and out and the latter have a lovely view of the trees. We bought a lovely wooden bread board made from Camphor Laurel from the shop. They had them in lots of different sizes and they provide a leaflet telling you how they are made and how making them is good for the environment!
For more information visit the official Dorrigo National Park website.
Take a look at our Dorrigo page for information on where to stay while in the area.