A visit to the lush rainforest at Dorrigo National Park should be on everyone’s itinerary when they’re staying in Coffs Harbour.
Dorrigo National Park is only 65km (1 hour by car) from the heart of Coffs via the scenic Waterfall Way, which starts to climb up Dorrigo Mountain after you’ve passed through Bellingen (very much worth a visit in its own right).
I always take visitors on a day trip to this national park, as it’s sure to make an impression on both Australian and overseas visitors. The scenery at Dorrigo National Park is stunning and there are some very accessible walks that I recommend doing.
If time allows, do the full Wonga Walk. This is a loop track that passes two waterfalls, plenty of huge and amazing trees and interesting interpretive signs. It takes about 2.5 hours to complete.
If you’re short on time, I recommend the five things below are the very least you should try to do.
Top 5 things to do at Dorrigo National Park (if you only have a few hours):
- Venture out onto the elevated Skywalk boardwalk for amazing views over the rainforest canopy (1 min walk)
- View the educational exhibition area of the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre (on your right when you enter from the carpark) for information about walks, birds and wildlife you may encounter.
- Walk part of the Wonga Walk to the Crystal Shower Falls (1.5km – allow 1.5 hours return) for the unique experience of walking behind a waterfall. On the way, listen to the plethora of birdsong and keep an eye out for other wildlife (most active in the early morning and evening).
- Upon return to the Rainforest Centre, have a drink or a meal at the wonderful, award-winning Canopy Café. Sit inside or outside on the terrace and enjoy fresh local food in the most beautiful natural surrounding.
- Before you leave, spend a few minutes browsing the Rainforest Shop, which has a large range of unique and nature-themed gifts and souvenirs.
You can easily spend a full day at the National Park – exploring different walks – marvelling at the height, width and age of impressive trees – enjoying relaxing picnic breaks – taking a refreshing dip in the rock pool below Crystal Shower Falls on a hot day – learning all there is to know about the many different birds, possums, pademelons and other wildlife – viewing the art exhibition on display at the Rainforest Centre at that particular time – and lingering over a delicious lunch.
Location: Dorrigo National Park is 65km from the centre of Coffs Harbour. It takes one hour to drive there via the Pacific Highway and Waterfall Way. You need your own transport or join a tour. There is no public transportation that takes you there. Drive carefully on the winding road between Bellingen and Dorrigo.
Pricing: Entry to Dorrigo National Park and Rainforest Centre is free.
Opening hours: Dorrigo National Park, the Rainforest Centre and Canopy Café are open daily (except Christmas Day) from 9am to 4.30pm.
Things to bring: Comfortable walking shoes. You’re in a rainforest, so bring insect repellent and spray yourself before you start your walk. Also bring sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water to drink if you’re walking. And, very importantly: don’t forget your camera!
Website/Phone: Find out more about this park on the National Parks website or call the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre on (02) 6657 2309 for further information. There’s a separate website for the Canopy Café.