Travel Review: Ellenborough Falls Mid North Coast NSW

One of the longest single drop waterfalls in the Southern Hemisphere is Ellenborough Falls at 200 metres. I was eager to check it out as I had heard they were full at the present time due to all the rain we recently had. Ellenborough Falls is Located on the Bulga Plateau at Elands, and is one hour's drive north-west of Taree, passing through Wingham on Tourist Drive 8. I have been visiting this area for years, as I have family up here, and in December, I made the Sea Change and relocated to Forster Tuncurry.

For me, this was a 1.5 hour drive from Forster. After passing through Wingham the road became very narrow with no line markings and plenty of potholes! I have been told by a local that it's been this was for years. I knew the road would become unsealed and driving a little Suzuki it wasn't much fun, however the view is spectacular and I loved every minute of it as I drove towards Ellenborough Falls. I stopped the Pink Panther (my car) and took this photo below.

The view on the way to Ellenborough Falls.

Take note: As you drive towards Ellenborough Falls there are a couple of rivers to cross with speed humps to slow down traffic. Most sensible people only travel on roads like this in a four wheel drive not a little Suzuki so they might not need to be quite as careful as I had to.


PRIME7 news had already said Ellenborough Falls were at their peak so this was why I raced up here as soon as I knew.

Photo: Steep climb down

On arrival there was plenty parking. I noted the good toilet amenities, picnic tables and a kiosk.

I decided to start this journey with the 80 metres down to the lookout at the top of the falls. As I looked down the valley I was in awe at how powerful and beautiful Ellenborough Falls are. I have an obsession with water, I love the power of it and I can watch the waves crashing on the bar at Tuncurry breakwall for ages. In fact I was caught in a riptide not long after moving up here and I still have visions of how that powerful water could have taken my life if I had been dragged out to the Forster/Tuncurry Bar.

Depending on the rainfall you may, or may not, experience the majestic falls that I saw.


The Knoll

There are plenty of interesting things to see on the rainforest walks including fungi, fauna, birds and termite mounds. If you are an amateur photographer like myself, just keep your eyes open for opportunities such as the fungi above.

The Knoll is directly opposite Ellenborough Falls and the view is sensational. It's actually, breathtaking for nature lovers like me. However, I knew there was so much more to come. You see, I intentionally chose the Knoll to visit before my descent down to Ellenborough Falls, because I knew the 641 steps back up was not going to be a piece of cake.

To be able to stand opposite a majestic waterfall like Ellenborough Falls, all alone is such a tranquil and special experience.

Make sure you take insect repellent and a bottle of water in the warmer months.

Walk Down to Ellenborough Falls

You need some level of fitness for this walk because the 641 steps back up are very steep. The wooden paths and steps are very narrow, however there are plenty of landings and resting places on this delightful journey.

As I walked down I did start to think about the journey back up but nothing was going to stop me having this experience. I was amazed at the huge staghorns that grow on some of the trees.

I could sense I was getting close to the bottom as the roar of the falls got louder. Then, finally I had reached the bottom. I stood on the viewing platform and watched, mesmerised at the power and sheer beauty of this cascading water. Then I went down further, placed my bag on the picnic table and stood on a rock with the mist of the falls cooling my face and body.

It is possible to swim here if you don't mind leeches! I took some salt with me just in case a leech decided that I would be a tasty treat. I've had leeches on me before and it freaks me out. Putting salt on a leech will dislodge it (never pull a leech off).

I wasn't brave enough to swim as I was on my own.

Then there was the walk back up! It's pretty tough but I did it! I was glad I had my water with me. I took a few breaks on the way up and just soaked in the atmosphere. I was grateful I had come to Ellenborough Falls early in the day as I was lucky to spend the time down at the bottom alone.

Dogs are permitted on a leash.

After my walk I decided to pay a visit to the Ellenborough Falls Kiosk which is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and School Holidays between 10.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. The kiosk has been operating at Ellenborough Falls since 1984 with all food made and baked on premises using local ingredients. The kiosk is 'off the grid' using LPG for the stove, fridge and hot water.

The Ellenborough Falls kiosk has a few tables to sit down to eat, with tablecloths and flowers. I had the vegetable pastie and an organic ginger beer and it went down a treat. Sitting down enjoying this meal surrounded by nature was heaven.


Let's go back in time. Elands was a seasonal gathering place for the local Biripi People, the sea, coast and forest of the lower rivers provided an abundance of food. I often wonder how magical the lives of our Indigenous people were before European settlement and I empathise how hard it must be to accept an invasion. We can't change history, and countries all around the world have suffered the same fate. We can, however, respect the land and the people who were the original owners.


With the encroaching settlement of the white man and subsequent disruption of the ecological balance, the Biripi’s hunting, food gathering and fishing patterns were destroyed. The Falls country averages 600m at the head waters of the three major rivers, Manning, Hastings and Macleay, was the last refuge for many tribal people who retreated in front of the white settlements spreading deep into these river valleys in the early 1800’s. A series of murders and massacres by European settlers reaching a peak in the 1840’s and 1850’s decimated the tribal populations in the upper reaches of the Manning, Hastings and Macleay rivers.

Aborigines had a track over the Bulga plateau that was used by the Biripi people to unite with neighbouring tribes for ceremony. Bulga means waterfall in the local Biripi (Kattang) language.The Spirit of the rainbow serpent (Ulunga), the mother of life, can be experienced in the colour of the rainbow. (Watch the waterfall and see the rainbow in the mist).The rainbow serpent is the mother of life to most Indigenous tribes. She is responsible for the colour and shape of the land we live in. She bestowed human form as a gift for keeping her law. The rainbow serpent brought the earth to life, pushing out from within the earth to form the mountains and hills. She called to the frog tribe to release the waters they had stored in their bellies over the land, to make the rivers and the lakes. She then called on the good spirit Biami, the ‘sun’ to help her find light.


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