Ellenborough Falls
Experience | bushwalking | waterfall | North Coast | New South Wales

Ellenborough Falls

by Susie Baber  |  14 November 2021

Bulga Plateau | Hard

It was a bit of a detour, but on the way home from camping at Crowdy Bay National Park we couldn’t resist a chance to visit the tallest single drop waterfall in New South Wales. Ellenborough Falls is actually one of the tallest waterfalls in the Southern Hemisphere.

Situated in the Manning Valley on the Bulga Plateau, it is an easy day trip from Taree or Port Macquarie. From Sydney it is about a 4.5hour drive and from Port Macquarie it is about 1.5 hours. The road is paved most of the way except the last 20 minutes, but it is still doable in a 2WD.

When you arrive at Ellenborough Falls you will be greeted by a sizeable car park, picnic tables, toilets and, remarkably, a kiosk serving homemade pies, sausage rolls and cakes. A welcome surprise in what feels like a long way from anywhere.

There are several ways to see the falls, something to suit all fitness levels.

Top of the falls

From the furthest end of the car park, near the picnic shelters, take the path to the right and it is a short walk to the viewing platform. The view over the top of the falls and down the Manning Valley is spectacular.

Head of Falls

Approx 300m walk takes you to the very top of the falls. You can’t see much of the waterfall from here as you are literally on top of it but there are seats you can take advantage of to soak in the vista and watch the Ellenborough river flowing over the edge of the plateau.

The Knoll

Stepping up the exercise level is the 450m walk to the Knoll. Just to the right of the car park a dirt path leads through the bush. Soon you reach a fork in the path and follow the sign pointing along the upper path to ‘The Knoll’. A moderate walk that undulates around the side of the valley and offers a very different perspective. The wooden viewing platform is directly opposite the falls and from here you can see the water tumbling its full 200m.

All of our group managed the walk to the knoll, but I only had one volunteer to join me for the ultimate view of the falls.

Lower Falls

It is only 500m but with 641 wooden steps to get to the bottom this walk is a bit of a challenge. Back at that fork in the path, if you take the lower path you will plunge into the valley. The path and steps were built in the 1980’s and along the walk there are information signs with details of the project – a great excuse to stop for a rest while you read them. There are also many strategically placed benches to sit and admire your surroundings (and have a rest). 

The base of the falls is a completely different experience from viewing them from the top. The force of the water tumbling over the rocks and the spray from the falls blowing in your face. Spend a few minutes exploring the boulders that have tumbled into the valley and if the weather is good maybe have a dip in the pool. Capturing the fall photographically can be a bit tricky, between the spray and the sun glare, not to mention trying to fit it all in.

So the walk down was interesting and the view from the bottom was lovely. Now comes the hard bit. Take your time, have a few rest stops, and you will be back at the top before you know it!

Share this story