WHERE IS IT?
The crown jewel of the Manning Valley, Ellenborough Falls is located on the Bulga Plateau at Elands, which is approximately a five and a half hours’ drive north of Sydney, an hours’ drive from Taree, or a one and a half hours’ drive from Port Macquarie.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
They say “size doesn’t matter” but in this case, they’re wrong! Towering at an impressive 200m means Ellenborough Falls one of the largest single-drop waterfalls in the southern hemisphere; a natural beauty so impressive, in fact, that WorldOfWaterfalls.com ranked it #4 in it’s list of Top 10 Best Australian Waterfalls.
WHERE TO STAY
Although accommodation onsite at Ellenborough Falls is not possible, there are a handful of nearby options. These include the Little House Bed and Breakfast, Tirrintippin Farm Stay and Cascades Cottage. Of course, Ellenborough Falls is surrounded by almost 30 seaside and hinterland towns and villages, so there are an abundance of accommodation available on the outskirts. The Manning Valley itself is a camping haven, with its nine National Parks and reserves, and well-appointed camping grounds dotted throughout the area. For caravanners and families, you can’t go past one of the many caravan parks that provide onsite vans, cabins, camping and a range of family friendly facilities, although there are no camping grounds that offer immediate access to the Falls.
WHAT TO DO WHILE YOU’RE THERE
Walking through this relatively hidden gem of the mid-north coast of NSW provides a rainforest-esque experience. The reserve itself spans around 130 hectares, the majority of which is bursting with vegetation and indigenous flora.
Ellenborough Falls can be enjoyed from numerous vantage points, thanks to a timbered walkway and viewing platforms. The viewing platform closest to the car park is around 200m above the valley floor and provides a side view of the waterfall, the gorge and the Bulga Plateau (in the distance).
If you have an hour to spare (and a sense of adventure), follow the 641 steps to the Lower Falls, which leads you through a natural cavity of lush vegetation. You’ll wind all the way down to the very bottom of the valley, ending up so close to the base of the Falls that you’ll be able to feel the spray on your face! The trail is touted as being a “comfortable 30-minute walk” but this really only refers to the downward journey. On your way up you will need to take your time, enjoy the serenity and take advantage of the rest stops along the way. In most instances it will take you longer to get up than it did to get down. Remember to carry drinking water with you during this trip.
Of course, if the concept of “what goes down, must come up” proves too deterring, then you rest assured you can still marvel at the Falls from any (or all) of the other vantage points such as the Head of the Falls and the Knoll.
At the Head of the Falls you can watch the Ellenborough River flowing along the rocky clifftop, prior to making its 160m vertical plunge. But for a real treat, head to the Knoll and enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of Ellenborough Falls. This lookout is accessible via a 10-minute walk, and directly faces the Falls, creating an unrivalled image of the waterfall against one of nature’s most incredible backdrops.
If you’re visiting on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday or during the school holidays, you can diffuse any hunger that you may have worked up, at the Ellenborough Falls Kiosk. The scones are reportedly delish and they offer an extensive range of delicious snacks, pastries, sandwiches and beverages. Be mindful that on “fresh falls Friday” local produce is served by way of homemade pies, salads, rolls, cakes and tarts – yum!
In addition to exploring the Falls, the area is a haven for hiking, picnicking and, of course, relaxing. Nearby National Parks include Tapin Tops National Park; Biriwal-Bulga National Park; Killabakh Nature Reserve: Bulga State Forest and many of these offer gorgeous falls and swimming holes. The area is also a magnet for bird watchers, and for those who want to enjoy a holiday not only with their family but also their pets (check with your preferred accommodation first).
Shopping in the quaint town of Wingham is a popular visitor activity, as is a visit to the “Oxygen Farm”, which is basically a parcel of land that is officially protected by conservationists, enabling you to walk the area and enjoy its beauty for free!
Ellenborough Falls Kiosk
Tirrintippin Farm Stay
The Little House Bed & Breakfast
World of Waterfalls