21 September 2022
The Wollomombi Falls in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park is one of the absolute highlights of the Waterfall Way. This comprehensive guide covers all the best viewpoints, walking trails and tips for your visit.
Of all the spectacular sights that lie hidden along the Waterfall Way, between the ancient rainforests and countless waterfalls, nowhere encapsulates the raw and rugged beauty of the region quite like Wollomombi Falls.
Carving a dramatic path through the heart of the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, the staggering grey cliffs of the Wollomombi Gorge soar high above the river that meanders through its depths.
From the escarpment, the magnificent Wollombombi Falls tumble into a large pool alongside the more modest, Chandler Falls, which cascades gently into the valley where the two rivers converge.
An everpresent mist, lush vegetation and the constant thunder of the falls makes for an even more impressive scene.
Even on a dreary winter’s day, Wollombombi Falls is truly something special. While it may not be widely known, in my opinion, it’s one of the most incredible natural sights in all of Australia.
For anyone travelling the spectacular Waterfall Way, Wollomombi Falls is one stop that shouldn’t be missed.
This guide will help you enjoy the World-Heritage listed Wollomombi Falls and Gorge from every perspective, including the best viewpoints, walking trails and tips for your visit.
Wollomombi Falls is located in the upper reaches of the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park in northern New South Wales. It’s just a short detour off the Waterfall Way and is an easy 30-minute drive from either Armidale or Ebor.
From the main road, turn onto the clearly signposted Wollomombi Falls Road and follow along for 1.7km until the end where you’ll reach the Wollomombi Falls Picnic Area from which the walking trails are accessible.
Thankfully, the road in is fully paved and in excellent condition (unlike many others in the national park!).
Departing from the Wollomombi Falls picnic area, there are two walking trails that guide you around the edge of the Wollomombi Gorge. Both offer up spectacular vantage points and interesting perspectives of the waterfalls and the gaping canyon.
Chandler Walking Track
Veering off to the right from the parking area, the Chandler Walking Track is 3.2km return and can be completed in about an hour.
Just 300m down the path you’ll reach the area’s incredible main viewing platform – the Wollomombi Falls Lookout. If you visit just one spot at Wollomombi, make it this one!
Overhanging the edge of the cliff, this lookout stares straight at the dramatic gorge walls where the white torrent of the Wollombombi Falls tumbles 220m into the river below, alongside the smaller Chandler Falls cascading across the rockface.
Between the canyon walls, tendrils of mist swirl and evaporate, buffeted by the steady breeze that streams across these landscapes. The twin rivers forge their paths onwards and converge deep down below, clumps of vegetation and spindly trees cling desperately to the craggy cliffs and the distant drum of the falls makes for a wildly captivating scene.
The name Wollomombi, derived from the Indigenous words meaning ‘the meeting of the waters’, could not be more fitting as these rivers collide in such spectacular fashion.
Continue on down the path for another 300m and you’ll reach Checks Lookout which similarly takes in the Wollomombi Falls from slightly further up the gorge, however, the other side of the viewpoint is almost entirely obstructed by trees.
Onwards, the path weaves through scraggly eucalypts onto the other side of the ridgeline before veering sharply downhill along a narrow path towards Chandler Viewpoint. If you arrive early, there’s a good chance you’ll stumble upon one of the many wallabies that frequent the area for their morning feed.
From here, you’ll get glimpses of Wollomombi Falls from afar, perfectly centred amidst the chiselled folds of the gorge walls.
Admittedly, this lookout is the worst established of the lot – it’s essentially a haphazard mess of rocks teetering on the edge of the cliff, designed to stop you in your tracks – but it does offer up a unique perspective on the sheer scale of the gorge and its staggering cliffs.
That said, definitely be careful clambering about on the rocks in search of the best vantage point. Some patches are unstable and the drop is sheer with no barriers like you’ll find elsewhere in the area. But, given it’s only a 15-minute walk down, in my option, it’s well worth the trip.
While there used to be a path that zigzagged steeply down to the river’s edge this is no longer accessible, so once you’ve taken in the views, return up the hill the way you came.
DON’T MISS: AN EPIC 3-DAY WATERFALL WAY ITINERARY FROM BELLINGEN TO ARMIDALE
Back at the car park, it’s time to explore the stunning Wollomombi Walking Track which carries you along the edge of the Wollomombi Gorge and offers a top-down perspective on the falls, some beautiful forest scenes and ridiculously impressive views of the canyon.
The Wollomombi Walking Track is reasonably flat the entire way and at just 4km return, it can be comfortably completed in an hour. But, if you’re anything like me, you’ll need at least double that to really soak it all in.
Heading left from the picnic area, you’ll reach Eagle Lookout after just 800m. Perched on the edge of the escarpment, this magnificent viewpoint was one of my favourites in the area and stares directly into the heart of the gorge.
Down below, the Chandler and Wollomombi Rivers converge and continue their journey towards the Tasman Sea, meandering through the rugged ochre-streaked cliffs of the canyon.
Pushing on for another 800m, you’ll pass through a beautiful patch of forest where delicate lattices of lichen cling to branches and vermillion fungi and spongey moss creep across the tree trunks. The rain-soaked path, a carpet of fallen foliage, fills the air with a wonderfully earthy scent.
You’ll cross a couple of small streams before reaching a metal boardwalk that will carry you across the mighty Wollomombi River. After climbing a short section of stairs, you’ll reach the Wollomombi Lookout where the falls cascade powerfully over the precipice.
Debris from the flooding that hammered much of the east coast in early 2022 still remains here alongside the river, with fallen trees and tangled grass caught amongst the rocks and metal framework.
On a rainy day, this walkway can become extremely slippery so be sure to hold onto the barriers and definitely don’t attempt to cross if the water has risen above the boardwalk.
The final stretch guides you through dense forest to the Chandler Falls Lookout.
Surrounded by lush vegetation, the more modest Chandler Falls cascades across the rocks to join the river far below. Though less dramatic than its neighbour, this marks a beautiful spot to end the Wollomombi Falls Walk.
Head back to the picnic area via the same route and be sure to stop in at each viewpoint along the way.
The mist, constantly shifting between the canyon walls, means you’re greeted with a slightly different scene each time, and if you happen to get a patch of sunshine, you may be lucky enough to witness a rainbow gleaming between the cliffs, if only for a moment.
Ok, so this one isn’t exactly a walk, you can drive right up to it, but it’s only a few minutes from the picnic area and well worth a visit before you leave the area.
Edgars Lookout overlooks a downstream section of the Chandler River as it weaves its way south into the distance. Here, the stark cliffs and rockfaces of the upper canyon have softened into a wide valley that is lush with thick vegetation.
There’s a small parking area here and a large viewing platform. At just 750m from the Wollomombi Falls picnic area, be sure to take the short detour before returning back to the Waterfall Way.
Accommodation is reasonably limited in the Wollomombi area so unless you’re camping, you’ll likely need to base yourself in either Armidale, Ebor or as far away as Dorrigo.
Armidale has the most choice, but being a student town, keep in mind that even in the low season accommodation here can be surprisingly limited so I’d definitely recommend booking early at any time of year.
For more suggestions on where else to stay along the Waterfall Way, read this guide to Waterfall Way accommodation on any budget.
Wollomombi Campground | With temperatures dropping to near zero degrees in winter, camping here during the cooler months probably wouldn’t be ideal, but come summer, this small campground would make a wonderful stop along the Waterfall Way.
Spots are limited but wood barbecues, picnic tables and drinking water is provided and best of all, you’ll be within walking distance of the spectacular Wollomombi Falls, perfect for catching sunrise or sunset over the canyon with no one else around.
Bookings are essential and sites cost just $12 per day, twin share. Check rates and availability here.
White Lanterns Motel | After booking last minute, I ended up staying here on my first night in Armidale. While the interiors are a little dated, the rooms are spacious, clean and include a well-equipped kitchenette. Prices are very reasonable and the location is great, just a 2-minute drive from the centre of town. Check rates and availability here.
Country Comfort Armidale | Located within walking distance of central Armidale, Country Comfort offers modern, newly renovated rooms that are a cut above the other motels in town. There’s also an onsite restaurant housed in a century-old converted Victorian house. Check rates and availability here.
Mid-Range + Luxury |
Petersons Winery and Guesthouse | Set a short drive from town, this lovingly restored homestead offers beautifully designed rooms with antique touches throughout, alongside an English garden, on-site restaurant and award-winning winery. An exceptional breakfast and a complimentary wine tasting are included. A lovely choice for a boutique stay in Armidale for those after something a bit special. Check rates and availability here.
Tattersalls Hotel | The best hotel in Armidale, Art Deco Tattersalls offers spacious, modern rooms with an onsite bar, restaurant and parking in the heart of Armidale. Check rates and availability here.
Arrive Early During Peak Periods
I visited Wollomombi Falls mid-week in the middle of winter and was lucky enough to have the entire place to myself for hours. It wasn’t until late morning that the first other visitors began to roll in.
Based on how much space there is for parking though, I suspect this wouldn’t be the case on a warm summer weekend.
If you’re visiting the area during peak periods of the year, such as the summer holidays or long weekends, I’d definitely recommend arriving reasonably early to enjoy the viewing platforms and walking trails without the crowds.
Take Your Time
During my visit, I saw several visitors park their cars, run up to the main viewing platform, snap a quick pic and then drive away.
While the rain may not be ideal, a passing glance is in no way doing justice to the immense beauty of this place. What’s more, the incredible views that lie elsewhere around Wollomombi Gorge are well worth getting a little soggy for.
If the weather is a little dreary, take comfort in the fact that the mist is constantly rolling in and out of view and the difference between a complete whiteout and torrential rain and a clear outlook with a rainbow arching through the scene could be mere minutes. Even if things look a little dire, it’s well worth hanging in there for short while to allow the skies to clear and reveal the gorge in all its beauty.
I’d definitely suggest walking both trails, but if you’ve only got time for one, the Wollomombi Walking Track is the more scenic option. Allow at least 3 hours for your visit, though you could see everything in around 2 hours if you’re really pushed for time.
Pack A Picnic
The Wollomombi Falls picnic area is lush and spacious and makes an ideal spot for a picnic lunch or a late breaky on the road before continuing along the Waterfall Way.
There are plenty of picnic tables spread out across the grassy area beneath the trees and a handful of barbecues for visitors to use. If you’ve got nothing packed, there’s also a small general store in Wollomombi on the other side of the highway which acts as a post office, petrol station, corner store and cafe (basically everything you might need).
They’re open every day and have a selection of simple meals and drinks on offer which you could order to-go and enjoy on the cliffs of Wollomombi Gorge.
The Falls Are Best After Heavy Rainfall
As always, a waterfall is only ever as good as the amount of rain that’s fallen in the days prior, and Wollomombi Falls is no exception. This place really shines after a heavy downpour.
Given the east coast of Australia has experienced what has felt like endless rainfall for the past two years (with another wet summer on the way thanks to La Niña) chances are reasonably good that you’ll catch the falls on a good day.
Honestly though, even if the falls are not pumping at full volume, Wollomombi Gorge is impressive enough on its own that I’d still say it’s worth a visit, even if the falls are reduced to a trickle.
Listen to the Soundtrails Experience
A new sensory experience created in partnership with the national park, the Wollomombi Falls Soundtrails Experience is akin to an audioguide of the area and includes Dreamtime stories read by Aboriginal Elders, a history of these beautiful landscapes and tales of the region’s endangered birds, among others.
Near the picnic area, you’ll find a sign directing you to download the Soundtrails App, although as reception can be a little spotty here, you can also access the audio via the website. The stories guide you along the trails and provide historical insight at each viewpoint.
The Walkways May Be Slippery
While all the Wollomombi walking trails are well-maintained and easy to navigate, the metal boardwalk that hovers over the Wollomombi River can become incredibly slippery when wet, particularly if you’ve collected some mud on your shoes from the trails.
Either runners or hiking boots would be perfectly adequate for all the walks but once you reach the metal sections I’d suggest testing out the surface and holding onto the rails, just in case (is that me officially sounding like a grandma over here?).
For more helpful tips on exploring this stunning region, don’t miss this post.
* This post includes affiliate links and any purchases made through these links will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. *