Waterfall Way NSW
One of the choice rides on what the locals call the NSW Mid-North Coast
Waterfall Way Ride Guide
The 180km Waterfall Way from Urunga on the coast up to Armidale on the New England Tablelands has some of the best riding on the mid north coastal area of NSW.
We’ll take it from east to west, up the mountains. Whether you approach from the north or south, the turn onto Waterfall Way is well signposted and easy to find just south of the Bellinger River and north of Urunga.
Just 11kms up the road, after an easy ride with the river on your right, you get to Bellingen, a beautiful town of about 3,000. A lot of good cafes here but the pick is probably Number 5 Church St, at, well, obviously 5 Church St, on your right in the middle of town. It’s the only licensed one I’ve found, and owned by a keen bike rider. ( http://5churchstreet.com )
You can get 91 and 95 fuel at the Shell on the corner of Waterfall and Ford, diagonally opposite the Tourist info office. http://www.visitnsw.com/visitor-information-centres/waterfall-way-visitor-centre-bellingen
The only pub is the Federal which is expensive at 80 bucks a night per head with shared facilities and nothing special for riders. A couple of doors down from the Federal is a very good IGA in a beautifully restored/maintained old building.
Heading out of Bellingen you go through some more beautiful dairy country with the river still beside you until you cross it at Thora with its small general store and friendly servo selling 91 and 95 Caltex fuel. If you don’t have enough fuel to get through to Armidale (139kms from Thora), it’s a good idea to fill up here. Feral camping is available beside the store.
Bellingen to Dorrigo is 28kms all up with some wonderful twists and curves and a goodly number of overtaking opportunities if you have the grunt and imagination.
The town’s tourism office is on Hickory St but its website is a commercial one rather than an informational http://www.dorrigo.com
Most obvious hotel is the Heritage on the corner of Hickory and Waterfall (http://www.hotelmoteldorrigo.com.au but it doesn’t cater to any rider needs and its rates start at $105.00 pppn. Its bar is not the friendliest you might come across and you’ll get a warmer welcome down at the Commercial where you can get a motel bed for $70.00. http://www.hoteldorrigo.com.au
Now, cafes…..when I once wrote that the best coffee in town was at Wholefoods on Hickey, Juan from next door rang my editor all outraged. Juan has moved on and it’s gone back to its old name of the Plateau Café. The bikes are all still there and the vibe is the same, only a bit friendlier and the coffee next door is still great. Over the road is the Red Dirt Distillery which makes vodka and gin and other good stuff from local spuds and and other crops. It also makes infused ice-cream and once again serves very good coffee. http://www.reddirtdistillery.com.au
The IGA is right opposite the Commercial Hotel on Cudgery St and open 7-7 every day.
There is 91 fuel at the United across from the Commercial Hotel but on the basis of my almost infallible, “if the visor wash is filthy and has little froth, the place doesn’t deserve business” principle, I no longer use them.
Two kms out of Dorrigo to the north east (just head down Hickey St, over the quaint bridge and you’ll see the carpark on your right), are the Dangar Falls. It’s a 20 minute walk down to the pool at the bottom of the Falls but if you want a dip and the water level is safe, head to the right of the carpark, down the grassy slope and pass the sign warning against diving from the Falls. You’ll get to the above Falls rock pools which are wonderful. Should not be missed!
Officially Ebor is 46kms straight up the Waterfall but actually about 37kms from Dorrigo you get to a T where you have a Giveway sign. Turn left here and coast the 9kms into Ebor.
Unless of course you have a bit of spare time and want a little detour! If so, head out of Dorrigo on Waterfall Way, past the United servo and cross the river then turn soon onto Tyringham Rd for Tyringham and Grafton. Pin the ears back for 25kms of awesome fun up to Armidale Rd where you turn left and head into Ebor.
Once was a time that Fusspots at Ebor was an inhospitable cranky place festooned with signs telling you of the many things that weren’t permitted. That all changed 4 years ago and now it’s one of the best cafes you’ll come across. You’ll probably miss the slip road off the Waterfall Way but don’t panic, just pass it and do a U turn and come back. It’s open every day from 7.30am til 5.30pm. The Ebor Roadhouse has been empty of fuel twice when I’ve come through and once when I stopped to eat I became aware that locals pay less for stuff like bacon and egg rolls than visitors pay so I’ve never been back.
Heading west out of Ebor you turn left just on 4kms out of town for Armidale (straight ahead is signed for Guyra), and then about 38kms out of Ebor, you’ll see the signs for Wollomombi and here the story gets a bit sadder. Up until 2014 there was a great little licensed café in the old village just a km off the main road but it’s now pretty much closed is a part time post office. A big loss to the culture of this road.
So, just enjoy the 45kms remaining of the Way as you move to Armidale. Major Hub town this, billing itself as the highest city in Australia. It’s also always colder at the ends of the day than you expect!
if you are needing something fixed or bought, the best motorcycle shop in town is Supermoto at 207 Mann St on the western edge of town (T: 02 6772 5988) http://www.supermotoyamaha.com.au .
The IGA is in the middle of town on the corner of Beardy and Dangar just down from the New England Hotel which is probably my favourite pub in town.
The Caltex at the airport on the western end of town is amongst the friendliest servos you’ll find and always with good visor wash, which is important around here…it’s bug central!