Waterfall Way: walks and lyrebirds

We travel the Waterfall Way from Armidale to Bellingen with overnight stays in National Parks at Dangars Gorge, Wollomombi, and then a campground at Dorrigo.

The Waterfall Way runs between Armidale in the west through to the Pacific Highway in the east. As the name suggests, there are several waterfalls along (or not far off the route).

The only EV fast charging currently on the Waterfall Way is at Armidale and Coffs Harbour, about 190 km apart, which is the upper limit of our comfortable range when towing the Little Guy camper with our Kona. We were planning some bush camping (unpowered campsites) and needed to use some of our EV battery charge to top up the utility battery in the camper. We knew we could manage this trip, but were not able to diverge from the planned route.

Topping up the car at the NRMA EV charger in Armidale

Our first two nights camping were at Dangars Gorge, south of Armidale, in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. This small campsite was very close to the spectacular 120 m high waterfall into Dangars Gorge, and provided good access to several walks around the perimeter of the gorge.

Campsite at Dangars Gorge
Eastern Grey kangaroo residents at the campsite
Dangars Gorge Falls 120 m high
View from one of the lookouts
Our campsite just visible from the other side of the gorge
View from McDirty’s Lookout after almost two hours walk
Australasian Grebe in river pools of Salisbury Waters above the waterfall
Meadow Argus (Junonia villida)
On the walk to McDirty’s Lookout, this Wedge-tailed Eagle flew up from the gorge and was at at eye-level with us. It then caught a thermal and soared much higher.
Lush lichens on some of the low trees
Early morning frost on a spider web near our campsite.

After Dangars Gorge campsite we charged the car again in Armidale, then moved on to Wollomombi Falls, also in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. Wollomombi Falls are one of the highest waterfalls in Australia. However, flows at all of the falls along the way were reduced because it hadn’t rained for some time.

This photo does not capture the depth and scale of this gorge. Wollomombi Falls (centre) and Chandler falls (to the right).
Pool at the top of Wollomombi Falls

After setting up camp at the Wollomombi campsite, we walked towards a lookout over the falls. There we heard a Superb Lyrebird which we spent quite some time watching and listening to. This lyrebird was busy scratching in the soil looking for food while carrying on its song which mimics other birds.

Superb Lyrebird

On another walk around the perimeter of the gorge, we came across another male lyrebird that gave a superb performance while he sat on a branch looking over the Wollomombi Falls. We captured some of it on the video below. The performance included mimicry of the calls of other birds. As far as we can tell they were (in order): Pied Currawong, Grey Shrike Thrush, Bowerbird, Eastern Whip Bird, Little Friarbird, Pied Currawong, Grey Shrike Thrush, Rosellas and Kookaburras (unfortunately that was truncated in the video). We felt very lucky to see and hear these birds, possibly because our visit coincided with their May-June mating season.

The next falls en route were the Ebor Falls. Unfortunately access to the lookouts there was limited due to damage from the 2019/20 bushfires.

Ebor Falls, a tiered waterfall on the Guy Fawkes River

Our next camp needed to be on a powered site to charge our car, and we chose one that was close to the Dangar Falls in Dorrigo.

Dangar Falls Campground
Chilly morning view from the campsite with fog and some frost still on the ground

We were curious that Dangar Falls in Dorrigo and Dangars Gorge near Armidale share the same name, although they are at opposite ends of the Waterfall Way. The name commemorates Henry Dangar (1796-1861) who was a surveyor and wealthy pastoralist. Henry Dangar was involved in perverting the course of justice in relation to the Myall Creek massacre (the murder of at least 28 Kamilaroi people, mostly women and children, that occurred on his property in 1838). It is disturbing that his name is still associated with these spectacular natural features.

Dangar Falls near Dorrigo

The Wonga Walk in Dorrigo National Park leads through lush rainforest to the Crystal Showers Falls. This was the first rainforest we saw along our trip.

Typical appearance of leaves of the Stinging Tree. The holes are from being eaten by the caterpillars and beetles. Just brushing the leaves can cause intense pain.
View from behind the Crystal Showers Falls

This was the last fall we visited along the Waterfall Way. There were quite a few more waterfalls and lookouts that one could visit. Next post we’ll write more about the Dorrigo, Bellingen area.

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