Located in the heart of Australia's New South Wales is a pristine wilderness cherished by naturists, outdoor lovers and those searching for serenity - Dorrigo National Park.
This stunning park is filled with lush rainforests, spectacular waterfalls and abundant wildlife, showcasing this region's remarkable beauty and biodiversity. Overall, it is an incredible natural wonder that has captivated travellers for generations, and for good reason.
In this guide, we invite you to discover the enchantment of Dorrigo National Park, uncovering its rich history, awe-inspiring landscapes and the plethora of experiences you can enjoy there. If you are into hiking, spotting wildlife, or just need a digital detox, we'll show you everything you need to know about visiting this breathtaking Australian wilderness.
Dorrigo National Park offers a wealth of outdoor activities and natural attractions for visitors to enjoy. Here are some of the top things to do when exploring this stunning national park:
Wonga Walk: This 6-kilometre loop track is one of the park's most popular trails, taking you through lush rainforest and past crystal-clear streams, offering scenic views from various lookouts. Along the way, you'll have the chance to spot diverse wildlife, including the elusive lyrebird.
Crystal Shower Falls Walk: A short, wheelchair-accessible walk leads you to Crystal Shower Falls, a stunning curtain waterfall that plunges into a clear, refreshing pool. Walk behind the waterfall for a unique perspective and cool off in the pristine waters.
Lyrebird Link Track: If you're keen on birdwatching, the Lyrebird Link Track is an excellent choice. As the name suggests, it's a prime spot to catch a glimpse of these remarkable birds, known for their elaborate songs and dances.
Dangar Falls: Just a short drive from the park, Dangar Falls is a breathtaking sight. A viewing platform at the top lets you admire the falls as they plunge 30 metres into a gorge below. It's an ideal spot for photographs.
Tristania Falls: Located along the Wonga Walk, Tristania Falls provides a tranquil setting for a picnic while enjoying the soothing sounds of cascading water.
Crystal Shower Falls: As mentioned earlier, Crystal Shower Falls offers a unique experience where you can walk behind the curtain of water.
The Dorrigo Rainforest Centre near the park entrance is an educational hub where you can learn about the park's ecosystems, history and indigenous heritage through informative displays and interactive exhibits.
Located within it is the Skywalk, a suspended walkway above the rainforest canopy. It offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and is accessible to visitors of all fitness levels, providing a unique perspective of the park's lush greenery.
Dorrigo National Park isn't just a haven for hikers and nature lovers; it's also a playground for those seeking adrenaline-pumping activities.
The park's extensive network of fire trails attracts plenty of mountain bikers wanting to explore its rugged terrain. One of the best to tackle is the Bellbird Loop Track, which offers thrilling rides and challenging climbs amidst lush rainforests.
However, if you prefer a more leisurely pace, saddle up and go horseback riding through the winding trails, immersing yourself in the serene ambience of this natural wonderland.
Dorrigo National Park is a haven for birdwatchers as its diverse habitats make it a birding paradise. Keep an eye out for the vibrant plumage of king parrots, rosellas, and satin bowerbirds, among many others.
One of the best places to see them is along the Wonga Walk at Satinbird Lookout, which offers a peaceful spot to observe these feathered inhabitants.
In addition to birdwatching, you may encounter other wildlife such as pademelons, wallabies, and brush-tailed possums. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times for wildlife spotting.
Dorrigo National Park is a photographer's dream. The captivating landscapes, waterfalls and diverse wildlife provide endless opportunities for capturing stunning images. Be sure to bring your camera and tripod to capture the park's magic at sunrise, sunset and throughout the day.
Dorrigo National Park offers several picnic areas with tables, benches and barbecue facilities. The Never Never Picnic Area, at the park's entrance, is a convenient spot to enjoy a meal amidst the serene surroundings. If you use these areas, remember to dispose of your rubbish responsibly.
Arguably, the best way to experience the Dorrigo National Park is to go on a guided tour. Led by knowledgeable guides, they can significantly enhance your experience by providing insights into the park's ecology, history, and indigenous culture.
Here are some guided tours worth considering at Dorrigo National Park:
Some tour operators in the Dorrigo region offer eco-adventure tours, including birdwatching, wildlife spotting and guided hikes through the park. Naturalists often lead these tours and provide a deeper understanding of the park's ecology.
Learn about the area's indigenous heritage with guided tours that focus on the rich cultural history of the Gumbaynggirr people. These tours often include traditional storytelling, bush tucker experiences and visits to significant cultural sites.
Adventure tour operators in the region may offer experiences like canyoning, abseiling and rock climbing in the nearby wilderness areas. While not specific to Dorrigo National Park, these activities can complement your visit by providing additional adventure opportunities.
It's advisable to book guided tours in advance and communicate your interests and fitness levels with the tour operator to ensure you have the best experience.
Further information about the park can be obtained from the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre. You'll find it at 142 Dome Road, Dorrigo Mountain and it is open every day of the year from 9 am to 4. 30 pm except Christmas Day.
Should you want to phone them, their number is 02 6657 5913.
Whilst at the park, you will find the following amenities:
It is worth noting the following activities are prohibited at Dorrigo National Park:
Campfires and solid fuel burners
Commercial filming and photography
Although Dorrigo National Park is a place you can visit all year round, the best time for you to do so largely depends on your preferences for weather, outdoor activities, and the type of experience you seek.
Generally speaking, many people consider the Australian spring and autumn seasons to be the best times to go to the park. However, here's a breakdown of what appeals the different seasons have to help you plan your visit:
Spring (September to November): Spring is a delightful time to explore Dorrigo National Park. During this season, the weather is mild, and the park's lush rainforests are in full bloom with brilliant colours of vibrant foliage and wildflowers. This time of year is excellent for birdwatching as many species are active.
Autumn (March to May): Autumn is another terrific time of the year to head to Dorrigo National Park. The weather remains pleasant, with cooler temperatures than the summer months. The park's waterfalls are often at their fullest in autumn due to seasonal rainfall, making them a captivating sight.
Summer (December to February): While summer can be a great time to visit for those who enjoy warmer weather, prepare for higher temperatures and occasional rain. This season is ideal for swimming in the park's freshwater pools and enjoying longer daylight hours for outdoor activities. However, be cautious of possible bushfire risks, especially during hot and dry periods.
Winter (June to August): Winter is the coldest season in Dorrigo National Park, and temperatures can drop significantly, especially at night. While the rainforest remains lush, some areas may experience fog and cooler, misty conditions. Winter is a quieter time for tourist crowds, making it suitable for a more peaceful escape.
Whichever time of the year you decide to go to Dorrigo National Park, always check the weather forecast and park conditions before your visit to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience.
Dorrigo National Park is situated in the eastern part of Australia, within the state of New South Wales. It is located about 580 kilometres north of Sydney and forms part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area - which is millions of years old.
The park is near several major towns and cities in the region, including Dorrigo which serves as a gateway to the park along its western edge.
It is also about 30 km from the picturesque town of Bellingen, while the popular coastal city of Coffs Harbour is about 70 km east of Dorrigo.
The best way to get to Dorrigo National Park is to drive (and hire a car if necessary), as the road networks from Sydney and Brisbane are excellent.
From Sydney, you can drive north along the M1/A1 for about 500 km before turning inland towards the park at Uranga. Alternatively, you can venture through the heart of the spectacular Avon Valley and Northern Tablelands. Doing this takes you along Thunderbolts Way and adds around 50 km to your journey. But it gives you the chance to take in gorgeous rural scenery.
If you are coming from Brisbane, you'll embark on a southward journey of approximately 500 kilometres if you drive along the M1. You can also navigate through country Queensland and New South Wales along the B91, which passes through destinations like Beaudesert, Kyogle and Grafton.
Whichever way you come from, both journeys will take you to the charming town of Dorrigo, which serves as the gateway to the park.
You can also do a day tour from Coffs Harbour.
Unfortunately, there are no camping options available at Dorrigo National Park. Subsequently, if you require overnight accommodation when visiting it, you will have to find places in the nearby towns and areas. Thankfully, there are quite a few options available.
The town of Dorrigo, which serves as the gateway to the park, offers a range of accommodations, including hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals. Here are some recommendations for places to stay if you want to base yourself there:
Heritage Hotel Motel Dorrigo: This historic hotel offers comfortable rooms and is conveniently located in the centre of Dorrigo, providing easy access to the park and local amenities.
Lookout Mountain Retreat: You can't beat this accommodation for convenience, as it is directly across from the park. It offers a good range of amenities at a decent price point.
Dorrigo Mountainview Holiday Park: If you're travelling with an RV or camper, this park provides powered and unpowered sites and cabins. It resides on the edge of town, offering scenic views of the Dorrigo plateau.
If you are okay with a slightly longer drive, the town of Bellingen, located about 30 km northeast of Dorrigo, offers additional accommodation options, including boutique hotels and guesthouses.
You'll also find plenty more places to stay in Coffs Harbour, about 70 km east of Dorrigo. The charming coastal city offers a wide range of accommodations, including luxury resorts and beachfront hotels for those wanting to enjoy sand and surf when not at Dorrigo National Park.
Wherever you decide to stay, be mindful that accommodation availability may change seasonally, so booking your lodging in advance is advisable, especially if you plan to visit during peak tourist seasons.
If you want to stay connected to nature after you visit Dorrigo National Park, consider visiting the Bongil Bongil, Nymboi-Binderay or Cathedral Rock National Parks. All are within an hour's drive away.
Alternatively, if you yearn for the feel of sand on your toes and the ocean breeze on your face, head to Coffs Harbour or the beaches at Woolgoolga, Arrawarra and Yamba, a little further up north.
Another good place to go to is out west to the Northern Tablelands. Armidale, a charming town with a delightful cultural scene and plenty of excellent cafes championing the best local produce, is well worth checking out.
Last Updated 12 October 2023