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Where to Find the Best Waterfalls in NSW

Looking for the best waterfalls in NSW? We have just spent a couple of months driving around the state and have visited many beautiful falls along the way. The walks we did to find them were among our favourite parts of the trip. We decided to share our finds here so that you can enjoy them too.

These natural wonders seem to delight almost everyone so adding a couple to your next itinerary is a no brainer.

We will continue to add more waterfalls as we visit so bookmark this page for next time you are planning a day out.

Crystal Shower Falls Dorrigo National Park – August 2020

We have yet to master the art of waterfall photography so the photos you see what our Samsung S20 and GoPro have captured.

Note – Before you set off to explore any of these NSW waterfalls, please check that access has not been affected by bushfire damage or weather incidents.

Chasing Waterfalls in NSW on a road trip

We are currently on a 5-week trip driving around NSW checking out the best beaches, national parks and waterfalls and putting together some great new itineraries. Who knew there were so many fantastic falls in our home state. Since our third find this song by TLC has been stuck in my head, and I find myself bursting into song on approach of the next waterfall.

NSW Waterfall Map

We have listed the most impressive of the falls we have discovered both on this and previous trips in alphabetical order because ranking them any other way is too contentious.

Finally, at the bottom of the page, we have answered the most common questions we get in our FB community about waterfalls in NSW.

Apsley Falls – Oxley Wild Rivers National Park

Two drops makeup Apsley Falls, a tiered waterfall in Central NSW. The first falls 65m off a deep gorge and then just under a km away a second fall of 58 drops to the bottom of Apsley Gorge.

Waterfalls in NSW Apsley Falls
Apsley Falls NSW – August 2020

The people of the Dunghutti Nation are the traditional owners of the land at Apsley Falls. The site is an important part of their Dreamtime stories, that tell of the gorge being created by the Rainbow Serpent.

On our visit in late August 2020, there was a decent amount of water running over the falls after some heavy rain about 10 days earlier. However, the gorge itself is quite a sight, so even in times of drought, it’s worth stopping here.

Walking Tracks Map Aspley Falls NSW

Walking tracks at Apsley Falls

There are a couple of walking tracks to choose from. The first one, Macmillian Lookout, is where we took the shot above.

If you want to see the lower falls you will need to take a short walk which brings you to three more viewing platforms. This walk takes about 90 minutes. These stairs, which allow you to get a better view, were closed for repairs on our visit and no date was listed for when this work might be completed.

  • Apsley Gorge Rim walking track is a short, easy 1.2km walk (grade 2) between Macmillian and Lions Lookout, it includes two other platforms that overlook the gorge. One of these Landslide Lookout is wheelchair accessible from the main car park.
  • The Oxley Walk is another track which runs along the ridge above the first lookout takes you further around the gorge for a more direct view to the face of the fall.

This is a great lunch stop with a good size picnic ground, plenty of tables and undercover BBQs.

Tip: Want to stay awhile? As you enter the park from the Oxley Highway you will find a small campground – about 10 sites set amount white gums. You can walk from the campground to the falls along a track that includes Landslide Lookout.

Where: Oxley Wild Rivers National Park – the falls are 20km east of Walcha.
Difficulty Easy, both Apsley Falls main lookout and Landside Lookout are wheelchair accessible.
Road Access: Gravel road suitable for all vehicles and parking available for large motorhomes and caravans

 


Belmore Falls – Morton National Park

Belmore falls in the north-east of Morton National Park is a great day trip from Sydney. This waterfall offers bang for your buck with both plunge and tiered drops on display. The water runs from Barrengarry Creek, and after heavy rains, this waterfall is spectacular and well worth the drive south from Sydney.

Belmore Falls was named after then Governor of NSW Somerset Lowry-Corry, 4th Earl Belmore.

Belmore Falls in the Southern Highlands of NSW

Walking tracks at Belmore Falls

The Belmore Falls walking track is a 1.8km trail that begins at the Hindmarsh Lookout car park. It’s a relatively easy walk, but there are stairs and slight slopes.

Hindmarsh Lookout is 800m along the track, it does not offer views of the waterfall but does provide a lovely outlook over Kangaroo Valley. Beyond this are two more viewpoints, Belmore Falls lookout which we think gives the best view and then the imaginatively named second lookout. The walk to the base of the falls is closed because of fallen trees and unstable ground.

There is also a poorly marked lookout further along the road. From here you can see the top of the falls in a view similar to the one of Fitzroy Falls. It’s worth hunting down – you can find the exact location on this Google map

Where: 6.5km from Robertson in the Illawarra/Southern Highlands region
Road Access: a narrow winding dirt road – if using a rental vehicle be sure you are covered for dirt roads – many campers and RV’s are not.

Carrington Falls – Budderoo National Park

The pick of the south coast waterfalls for many, Carrington Falls is classed as a plunge waterfall. There is a 50m drop in the multi-tiered falls to the valley floor below.

Amazing Carrington Falls – 160 metres high.

Walks at Carrington Falls

The Carrington Falls walking track is an easy 35-minute loop walk with just a short section of stairs. There are three lookouts, the first is Falls View Lookout, and anyone not able to walk far might be happy to stop here. The next lookout is at the base of a set of metal stairs and gives a great view over the area. Finally, you head back up and reach Valley View Lookout.

It is possible to swim at Carrington Falls although we have never done this.

*You can make your way to the bottom of Carrington Falls but you need to be an experienced hiker with appropriate gear to attempt this. It is a very challenging track. Get more details from the Fitzroy Falls Visitors Centre.

Tip: Stay awhile, Carrington Falls Campground is run by the National Parks and offers six tent sites. Cost is $12 for 2 adults.

Bonus tip: Stop at the nearby Robertson Pie Shop for a meat or fruit pie.

Where: Kangaroo Valley, 7km east of Robertson in the Illawarra/Southern Highlands region. View the location on Google maps here
Difficulty: Easy – some stairs but suitable for most. The first lookout is an easy walk.
Road Access: Easy, a sealed road leads to the car park.

 

Crystal Shower Falls – Dorrigo National Park

Crystal Shower Falls in Dorrigo National park is one of the prettiest waterfalls we have visited in Australia and one of the very few waterfalls in NSW you can walk behind.

It’s a photographers dream!

I challenge you to take less than 2 dozen photos of Crystal Shower Falls!

Dorrigo National Park is part of the UNESCO Gondwana Rainforest listing and should be a stop on any visit to this part of the state as either a day trip from Coffs Harbour or a stop off along the Waterfall Way.

We recommend you allow at least two hours for your visit to the park so you have time for the full 6.6km Wonga Walk that takes in both Crystal and nearby Tristania Falls as well as some of the most beautiful rainforests we have experienced in NSW.

NSW Dorrigo Waterfall
Crystal Falls from the front
The Path behind the falls

Tip: If you are short of time or don’t have the energy for the full walk you can reach Crystal Falls from the Glade picnic area car park – from here it’s only 3.5km return walk.

If you arrive early in the day you may find you have the place to yourself as many people don’t realise you can enter the park before the Visitor Centre opens at 9am.

Where: Dorrigo National Park – the falls are reached from the Rainforest Visitors Centre
Difficulty: Neither of the waterfall walks is accessible to regular wheelchair users although it can be accessed using a trail rider which is available from the park.
Road access: Easy access, short turn off from highway along a sealed road – 2km from Dorrigo town centre.

 
 

Dangar Falls – Dorrigo

Dangar Falls is a plunge waterfall with a great swimming area at the base. Situated on the Bielsdown River just one km from Dorrigo township these falls are one of the easiest to access in the area.

Taken from the top of the falls lookout at 2pm August 2020 – arrive in the morning to avoid shadows

The viewing platform at the top of the falls is very small so you may need to wait your turn to get into the front and take your shot, especially if you visit on the weekend.

There is a picnic area, a playground and toilets adjacent to the falls. A small coffee cart is also often set up – the coffee was great on our visit.

The walk to the base of the falls is suitable for most levels of fitness, if you have been spending a bit too much time on the couch you may find the walk back to the car park gets the heart started but it’s not difficult at all, just take you time and make a pact to schedule more walks into your week when you get home 😉

The return walk, including lots of stops for photos, will take less than 30 minutes.

Dangar falls NSW Waterfalls
The base of the falls at 3pm in August 2020

Tip: If you are driving the Waterfall Way you can camp here right by the falls walkway. There is a campground on private property, but no free camping allowed nearby. It’s a good idea to book in advance, when we went past last month it was booked out and this is considered low season.

Where: Dorrigo, just east of Dorrigo National Park
Difficulty: A few stairs and some uneven ground as you reach the base but most of the walk is on a formed path.
Road access: Easy, sealed road and plenty of parking for large vehicles


Ebor Falls – Guy Fawkes National Park

Ebor Falls is situated along the Waterfall Way in Guy Fawkes River National Park. This superb two-tiered drop is my favourite waterfall in NSW.

Water falls off the 115 metres (377 ft) drop year-round so if you are visiting the area during drought, this is your best bet for an impressive view.

Ebor Falls from the top lookout August 2020
The area was badly damaged by 2020 summer bushfires

Due to significant damage during the 2020 bushfire season, the lower falls viewing platform and walk are closed. The top lookout platform, which is an easy walk from the car park, was damaged however there is still a clear view of the top falls as seen above.

The Falls are known to the Gumbaynggirr people as ‘Martiam’, which means ‘the great falls”.

The town of Ebor is a short walk from the falls you can take a track from the car park to the village shops. Motorhome and caravan camping is available for free at the nearby Ebor Motel.

Where: Ebor is almost halfway between Armidale (80km) and Coffs Harbour (110km) along the Waterfall Way.
Difficulty: Easy walk, only 100m to the main lookout from the car park. Wheelchair users can generally access to the top lookout with assistance.
Road access: A sealed road, easy access for all vehicles and large parking area.

 

Ellenborough Falls – Elands

Ellenborough Falls, near Taree, is a horsetail fall which plunges 160m (520 ft) as a single drop from Bulga Plateau at Elands. This is one of only a few falls listed here that you can take you dog to as most are inside National Parks.

We have family living nearby in Forster and they say this is a very popular day trip for locals on the weekend who head here to swim and picnic.

Ellenborough Falls is the second-highest single-drop waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere.

Credit: Nick Connolly via Creative Commons

Walks at Ellenborough Falls

Your first glimpse of the falls is just a few metres from the car park and with very little effort. However, if you have time, we highly suggest you continue walking.

There is a great track running around the top level of the falls, which allows you to see the falls from a variety of lookouts. You do need to head down a few stairs but nothing too strenuous.

The Knoll Lookout, about 500m along the trail puts you directly opposite the falls and is a great place to get a photo.

Those with decent fitness can take the 640 odd steps to the bottom of Ellenborough Falls. It’s not a long walk, just a long way down. Take your time and stop when you need to and you will be fine. If I can do it, almost anyone can!

Tip: There is a kiosk here open Friday to Sunday if you fancy a snack or reward after climbing all those stairs 😉

Note: There is a campground called Ellenborough, but it is quite a drive from the actual falls.

Where: Elands is approx 50km from Taree
Difficulty: Very easy for the top lookout, moderate fitness for the stairs to the bottom
Road Access: Sealed and unsealed road, very narrow in some places and not recommended for caravans or large motorhomes but can be managed by most cars.

On this trip we decided not to take our motorhome along this road due to insurance concerns so have used a creative commons shot.

 

Fitzroy Falls – Morton National Park

One of the most popular sites in the Southern Highlands, even in very dry times there is water flowing over Fitzroy Falls. Apparently it has only run dry once in known history so it’s always a pretty good bet, however, if you can visit after some decent rain it really is spectacular.

Fitzroy Falls is one spot you will likely have to share with others. In fact, to secure a space in the small car park on weekends it’s best to arrive before the visitors centre opens at 9am.

Walks at Fitzroy Falls

There are two main walks here:

  • The West Rim Track – 4km return walk, the first part of which is suitable for everyone
  • The East Rim walk – also known as the Wildflower Walk, 6.7km is a little more challenging but still a relatively easy track.
Fitzroy Falls NSW Southern Highlands
Fitzroy waterfals thundering over the rock face into Kangaroo Valley

Watching the water rush 60 metres over Fitzroy Falls is a spectacular sight on the West Rim Walk. The first part of the track is suitable for wheelchairs and prams with some assistance. In total five lookouts line this walk, the first, Jersey Lookout, then Twin Falls, the Grotto, Starkey’s Lookout and Renown Lookout. This is a fabulous family bushwalk.

Tip: Be sure to pop into the Visitors Centre for some great background on the area, where you can learn about both the Aboriginal and colonial history.

Where: Fitzroy Falls Visitors Centre
Difficulty: A relatively easy walk – the first section of the west rim has wheelchair access.
Road Access: Easy access with sealed roads but a small car park. Parking is $4 per car.

Killen Falls – Tintenbar near Ballina

Killen Falls is a 10-metre high plunge fall just west of Ballina on the NSW North Coast. If you are yearning to swim under a waterfall, Killen delivers. You can also walk behind the falls here, although access is not as easy as it is at Crystal Shower Falls in Dorrigo, it is a much shorter walk.

The top viewing platform at Killen is just a few hundred metres from the car park. The walk to the base is another 500m of rough track and about 200m of rocky riverside rock hopping to get to the waterhole and base of the falls.

Killen Falls Waterfall in NSW

On our visit in August 2020, the water looked lovely and clean although not warm enough to tempt me to enter. You really need to have running shoes or similar on to climb across the rocks. Depending on how hard the falls are tumbling down things can get slippery too.

Apparently, in summer visitors flock to the area in large numbers so try to arrive really early if you want to experience the view in peace. On our mid-winter visit, we passed two other couples however the car park was full when we left.

Tip: There are also not a lot of places to sit when you reach the base – most of the ground is very rocky so we would not suggest this is a good picnic spot.

Where: Killen Falls Drive, Tintenbar 20 mins from Ballina
Difficulty: Easy path to the top viewing platform. Basic rock hopping required to reach the base.
Road Access: Sealed road with a small car park. Large vehicles can park just before the car park on the side of the road.

 

Madden Falls – Dharawal National Park

Perhaps the least known National Park in Sydney, Dharawal’s Madden Falls is a nice, easy 1km walking track suitable for the whole family. Dharawal is one of Sydney’s newest National Parks only joining the fold in 2012.

Madden Falls usually offers 3 or 4 thin streams that fall to a second tier below. Heavy rain will see these join and the falls can be quite impressive. Regardless this is a lovely spot easily explored without too much effort.

Tip: If you have a bit of extra energy, from the Maddens Fall car park take the Minerva Pool Walking Track , which winds through the traditional country of the Aboriginal Dharawal People.
Being a sacred women’s place, the Tharawal Local Aboriginal Land Council asks that only women and children may enter the waters of Minerva Pool, showing respect to the cultural importance of this site.

Where: Darkes Forest Road, off the Princes Highway 17km from Heathcoate
Difficulty: Easy, suitable for families
Road Access: A sealed road – suitable for 2 wheel drive

Minnamurra Falls – Budderoo National Park

Located in lush rainforest just a short drive from Kiama on the Illawarra Coast, the Falls Walk at Minnamurra Falls is a great workout that is perfect for spring and summer when the rainforest will keep temperatures a little lower.

The falls themselves are a two-tiered but you really only get a good look at the top of the falls. As kids we had loads of fun at the bottom of these falls but access to the lower section was cut off years ago due to a landslide and now you can only really look down on this part.

The walk starts at the Rainforest Centre and is can be combined with the Rainforest Loop walk that will give you a total of 4.2km track. Another fun family-friendly walk that is lovely on a summers day.

Where: Minnamurra Falls Road, Jamberoo Valley west of Kiama
Difficulty: Steep walk with some steps – average fitness recommended.
Road Access: Easy, sealed with some parking for large vehicles available

 

Nellies Glen – Budderoo National Park

A small waterfall not far from Carrington Falls, Nellies Glen is an easy walk and offers a lovely picnic ground and swimming spot. While the walk to the falls is quite easy it can be slippery so resist the urge to walk to the pool in thongs.

Nellies Glenn picnic area, Budderoo National Park Credit: Andrew Richards/DPIE

The water here is not too deep but it is perfect for a swim on a warm day. It can get a little crazy in summer on weekends so arrive early if you can.

Tip: If you miss out on parking at Nellie’s Glen picnic ground car park continue to the Blue Pool car park, it’s a short walk back.

Where: Cloonty Road at the Carrington Falls sign or Jamberoo Mountain Road, take the Carrington Falls turnoff. It’s about 10km from Robertson.
Difficulty: easy
Road Access: Some of the road is unsealed but suitable for a 2 wheel drive. A very small parking area and popular in summer.

 

Somersby Falls – Brisbane Waters National Park

Located in the east of Brisbane Water National Park Somersby Falls is a popular picnic spot for Gosford locals with many Sydneysiders also heading here on summer weekends.

Sommersby Falls Gosford
Credit: John Yurasek

The Somersby Falls walking track is a short walk, less than 500m return, that will take you from the top to the bottom of the falls. The small pool at the bottom is not suitable for swimming but it’s lovely to dip your toes in.

There are basically two drops that makeup Somersby Falls, the top drop is only 100m along the track and some say the prettiest of the two so if you are not up to the stairs to the base then just go this far and return.

The walk to the bottom is not hard, just lots of stairs, which are a little uneven and often wet – as long as you have good shoes you should be fine.

Tip: These falls make a great place to practice your waterfall photography skills, especially if you can visit midweek when you are more likely to have the place to yourself.

Where: 70km north of Sydney or 9km west of Gosford – near the Australian Reptile Park
Difficulty: A little steep and often slippery but generally not a difficult walk.
Road Access: Easy – parking is $8 per car. Park before the official entry and you can walk in.

 

Wentworth Falls – Blue Mountains National Park

The most popular of the Blue Mountains waterfalls Wentworth Falls has been delighting visitors since the early 1900s. Featuring a triple-tiered drop after the Three Sisters this is one of the most visited sites in the Blue Mountains National Park.

Wentworth Falls,
Wentworth Falls,

There are a couple of lookouts here to visit and viewing the top of the falls is relatively easy. We have written about these falls before so suggest you take a look at these ideas for exploring the area.

The best view is from Fletchers Lookout involved a 1.4km walk with about 200 steps. Other tracks will take you to the base of the falls. The official site gives more details.

Where: 100km west of Sydney
Difficulty: 1.4km and 200 steps to a good lookout
Road Access: easy access along a sealed road with plenty of parking.

 

Wollomombi Falls – Oxley Wild Rivers National Park

Wollomombi Falls just east of Armidale is the second highest in Australia with a 220m (720 ft) combined drop. This plunge falls on the Wollomombi River in the Northern Tablelands is an easy stopover on the Waterfall Way drive and little effort is required to view the falls themselves.

Wollomombi Falls in August 2020 – the area was still in drought but there had been recent rain.

Just off the main road along a gravel track, you will find a large picnic area with a new undercover BBQ area that was spotlessly clean on our recent visit.

The main viewing platform is suitable for wheelchairs and prams.

Wollomombi is said to be an Aboriginal word meaning “meeting of the waters”.

Along with the two lookouts located a short walk from the car park and picnic area are there are two main walking tracks

  • Wollomombi Walking Track – 4km relatively easy (grade 3) walk along the Wollomombi Gorge with a chance to spot some kangaroos and if you are very lucky perhaps a platypus.
  • Chandler Walking Track – While still listed in guidebooks and many websites Chandler Walking Track is partly closed due to ongoing erosion) however you get as far as Checks Lookout only 1.4km along for expansive views of the slate gorge and when rain has been heavy Chandler falls, which is often dry is also visible.

Where: 40km east of Armidale along the Waterfall Way at Hillgrove
Difficulty: Easy just a couple of hundred metres to the main viewing platform from the car park.
Road Access: Easy access via a short gravel road from main turn off – plenty of parking for large vehicles.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Waterfalls in New South Wales

What types of waterfalls can I find in NSW?

Did you know there are 10 different types of waterfalls? Most waterfalls we have found in NSW are one of the following types

  • Plunge falls – Dangar, Carrington, Fitzroy, Wollomombi
  • Tiered or multi-step falls – Belmore, Ebor, Wentworth
  • Cascading falls – Apsley
  • Horsetail falls – Ellenborough

There are also Punchbowl Waterfalls, Frozen Waterfalls, Fan Waterfalls, Chutes, Cataracts, Cascades, and Block Waterfalls but we have not managed to find these in NSW yet.

Which NSW waterfalls are best to swim in?

Killen Falls, Nellies Glen, Winifred Falls, Wattamolla Falls and Ellenborough Falls are some of the most popular waterfalls in NSW to swim in.

Which waterfalls in New South Wales can I take my dog to?

Many of NSW waterfalls are inside National Park boundary meaning you need to leave your four-legged friend at home; however there are three waterfalls in Sydney where you can take your dog.

  • Dangar Falls
  • Ellenborough Falls
  • Killen Falls

There are also some small falls around Lawson in the Blue Mountains that are dog friendly.

 

Which waterfalls in NSW are accessible to wheelchair users?

Fitzroy Falls has a wheelchair-accessible lookout. Wollomombi Falls new viewing platform is accessible. Have Wheelchair Will Travel has written about their experience using the Trailrider chair at Dorrigo National Park here.

When is the best time of year to visit waterfalls?

Anytime it rains really but summer can be problematic with high visitor numbers and bushfire risk. Always check the official website of the park or conservation area before you head off.

Where are the highest waterfalls in NSW?

We have found a couple of answers. Wollomombi Falls in Oxley Wild Rivers NP are listed at 260m and if you add the horseshoe drop to the cascade, it is a total of 424 metres making it the highest. Ellenborough Falls at 200m is the tallest single-drop waterfall in NSW, it’s also the second tallest in the southern hemisphere.

Which waterfalls are closest to Sydney?

In the South of Sydney, you have 2 falls in Dharawal National Park and seven in the Royal National Park all less than an hour from the city.

Heading North you have Upper Gledhill Falls in Kur-ring-gai National Park which are still on our list of waterfalls we need to visit, and Sommersby Falls in Brisbane Waters National Park.

Heading west Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains is about 90 minutes from Sydney. There are some smaller falls in the Lower Blue Mountains.

Which waterfalls in NSW can you walk behind?

You can access an official track to the back of Crystal Shower Falls in Dorrigo National Park. You can also scramble over rocks or walk along the riverbed to get in behind Killen Falls near Ballina.

Safety Tips

Please don’t jump off waterfalls – unless on an organised and licensed activity. Several of the falls above has been the site of fatalities.

 

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