So a couple of weeks ago, I packed my tiny little car to the brim and drove down to Sydney to start furnishing my new home. (Read about that adventure here.)
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end… and I still have 6 months of university to finish in Brisbane. This meant driving all the way back up to the Gold Coast. Generally this would be about a 10 hour drive. But, as per usual, I couldn’t possibly take the normal road. So my partner and I decided to take a drive through the Great Diving Range. The plan was to drive into the Hinterland and up Putty Road, before making our way to Armidale, then along the famous Waterfall Way to Coffs Harbour.
Seven hours of spectacular views in the hinterland.
Mountain ranges for miles.
Our first stop was Tamworth. Neither of us had visited the town before, and we had no idea what to do. It’s a fairly large town though, so it makes a perfect lunch stop. We ate in the park, had a much needed rest, and we were on our way again.
On the way out we happened to see a sign towards a lookout, and we decided to stop there. Moonbi Lookout is stunning. Here you can experience 360 degree views of the mountain ranges. If you’re ever in Tamworth, this place is a must.
Our next stop was Armidale – the highest city in Australia. We had booked a cabin on the outskirts of town so that we could rest up before our trip down Waterfall Way. Again, we’d never been here so we weren’t sure what to expect. I was blown away.
Armidale is a gorgeous town with so much to offer. I wish I could have spent longer here. The scenery is beautiful, with farms and bushland surrounding the town. The heritage buildings are also phenomenal. We went for a five minute walk and within that time I spotted these three beautiful little churches. As it’s winter at the moment, most of the trees were stark and bare. While this did give an eery beauty to the town, I would love to visit during Spring or Autumn.
The next day we were on the road again, this time heading out on Waterfall Way. Unfortunately, it was absolutely bucketing down rain. However, as we drove, I began to appreciate how beautiful the mountains are in wet weather. Everything was so green and lush, and the cloud cover was so low that we were driving through it.
Nothing more Aussie than an endless dirt road.
(Or should that be mud road?)
Silent Hill, anybody?
The first town that pops up along Waterfall Way is Ebor. It really is a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ town, but the road signs will direct you to it’s hidden gems. There are a few waterfalls in Ebor. The lower falls are quite small, but the upper falls are spectacular. The rainy weather meant that they were flowing nicely for us.
Excuse my crooked photo.
Our next stop was Dorrigo. There is so much to do in this little town. First things first, we drove to the waterfall to grab a photo. The rain had held off, but it was freezing cold. The waterfall, however, was worth the weather. Curiously, there are a number of signs telling people not to jump off the waterfall. As much as I love rock pools, I can’t say I’d be too keen to take that leap.
After viewing the waterfall, we made our way to the national park and skywalk. We went for a rainforest drive down to the ‘Never Never’ picnic area. The drive was beautiful, although probably more suited to a 4WD than my tiny little Mazda 2. There is not much at the end of the road, but the scenery is well worth the effort.
Making friends with the locals.
Our last stop in Dorrigo was the skywalk and rainforest walking tracks. Luckily the clouds were beginning to dissipate, so we were able to experience the view from the skywalk. Unfortunately, much of the walking track was closed due to rock slides. But we were able to get a small rainforest walk in.
View from the skywalk.
Gorgeous, lush rainforest.
Once we left Dorrigo, it was time for some more spectacular driving scenery to carry us home. This is when you truly understand why the road is called ‘Waterfall Way’. There is something so surreal about being able to drive right next to these waterfalls cascading down the mountainside.
Enjoying the scenery.
Although it is only a two and a half hour drive, Waterfall Way took us about six hours to complete from Armidale to Coffs Harbour. I imagine that it would have taken even longer had the weather been better. If I were to do it again, I’d probably stay overnight at one of the mountain towns and take my time in exploring what this road has to offer.
I’m sure that we have missed out on some spectacular scenery or experiences, but that is the life of a traveller. You can never see everything in just one trip.