Dorrigo National park is only an hours drive from Coffs Harbour and only 30 mins away from the hip town of Bellingen on the Mid-North coast of NSW. It’s the perfect day trip that offers different activities away from the beach. The road leading into Dorrigo National Park isn’t called Waterfall way for no reason, Dorrigo is peppered with incredible waterfalls attracting an abundance of native birds and wildlife. Located in world heritage listed forests, there are so many walks and hikes leading to waterfalls that it will be hard to choose which ones to do!
Dorrigo national park is best enjoyed in Spring when it is a bit cooler as Summer can have a lot of rainfall, great for the waterfalls but not if you want to capture those crisp photos. We visited during May (Autumn) and it was still great weather, albeit on the colder side, we had beautiful sunny days and it really warmed up during the walks down to the waterfalls. We have put together the Perfect Day Itinerary for you which maximizes places to see and includes some incredible waterfalls views.
Start your day at Components café. This is the only café open from 6am and so if you’re an early riser this is the place for you! Inside feels like you’ve been transported to a quaint little café in England, possibly due to the English & Aussie co-owners, the warm fire in the corner is the perfect touch on a chilly morning. Dorrigo is one of the wettest towns in NSW due to its highland subtropical climate, so a fireplace and a cozy corner is often most welcome!
After filling up on coffee, head to the Rainforest Centre which is a great place to start your National Park visit. They can provide lots of tips on walks, hikes, and trails. We recommend visiting the Skywalk lookout which is right next to the Rainforest Centre. Although the Rainforest Centre is open between 9am-4.30pm you are able to access the Skywalk at any time via another entrance. The view at the end is sensational and really allows you to take in how vast the surrounding area is.
Crystal Shower falls
There are two way to visit the Crystal shower falls
Leave your car parked at the Rainforest Centre and take the Dorrigo National Park Loop trail which is around 6kms long. You can continue on to Tristania falls and add another waterfall to your ticked list. (Allow for a couple of hours)
A short drive from the Rainforest Centre and you’ll arrive to the Crystal Shower falls car park. The car park is relatively small (around 10 spaces) The walk begins at the Glade Picnic area (allow around 30 mins walking each way, plus additional time for photos at the end)
Whichever option you opt for, there's no doubt that you’ll be treated to views of lush rainforest and an opportunity to walk right behind the waterfall. The walk is an easy walk, paved the entire way with an incline the majority of the way back.
You’ll almost be certainly ready for lunch. There are plenty of bbq stations, shelters and picnic tables if you like to bring your own lunch which we would recommend. Otherwise, it would be easiest to pop back in to Dorrigo town.
Dangar falls is a seriously impressive waterfall, the cascade is heavy and the view from the car park alone is pretty epic.
You are able to walk down to the bottom of the falls which is for all fitness types and it is a well paved path the entire way. It is only a short walk to the bottom of the falls, just 10-15 minutes. If the weather was a bit warmer during our visit we would have been straight into the falls for a swim, but we will have to save that for our Summer visit!
Stop at Bellingen on your way back
We stopped at the gorgeous little town of Bellingen on our trip back to the coast, think Byron Bay about 20 years ago! Charming boutique shops, and a big choice of food places including Japanese and middle eastern, we opted for Za'at'ar which was honestly, the best falafel wrap both James and I have ever eaten. Fact. They offer Hummus plates, lamb kofta in pita bread but also plenty of vegan friendly options too, an absolute bargain at $13 per plate. It is a must visit! For craft beers and pizzas, head to Bellingen Brewery.
Getting to Dorrigo National Park
Dorrigo National Park is only a 30 minute drive from the small town of Bellingen, or a 1 hour drive from Coffs Harbour. We were travelling in a bus and we were a little worried about the drive from Coffs Harbour up to Dorrigo National Park due to the incline and winding roads, however we had no problems getting up the hills in our 1995 Toyota coaster bus. Expect some beautiful views over the valley on the drive, and keep your eyes peeled for some smaller waterfalls at the side of the highway.