Known as being one of the highest single drop waterfalls in Australia, we wanted to find out how difficult it would be to reach the bottom of Ellenborough Falls.
You know, we’ve explored a lot of waterfalls in NSW already and have had difficulty reaching the bottom, especially the infamous Gerringong Falls which we do advise against HERE.
If you’re looking for things to do in Port Macquarie, here’s everything you need to know about visiting Ellenborough Falls so you’ll be totally prepared.
Table of Contents
1. Is Ellenborough Falls the highest waterfall in Australia?
Ellenborough Falls is the third highest waterfall in Australia at 160m, after Wollomombi Falls near Bellingen in NSW (220m) and Wallaman Falls in Queensland (300m).
We went to visit Wollomombi Falls during our trip to Bellingen HERE which is absolutely incredible.
I doubt you’ll see anywhere else like it in Australia and best of all it’s located just off Waterfall Way. Just so you know, Waterfall Fay isn’t a incidental road name, there are loads of amazing waterfalls on this road from Bellingen out to Armidale which you can read more about HERE.
But make sure you visit after heavy rain or you might not see even a trickle there.
Read Our Bellingen Guides Below
If you’re interested in learning more abouu Bellingen, check out our guides.
Wallaman Falls looks absolutely amazing and is somewhere which is on our list to visit! It’s located between Townsville and Cairns if you’re interested to know 😉
2. Where is Ellenborough Falls?
To be honest, we only found out about Ellenborough Falls as we’re currently staying in the nearby beach town of Old Bar. It’s actually located on the Bulga Plateau in the Manning Valley in NSW which is about an hour’s drive from Old Bar.
It turns out Ellenborough Reserve is also a very popular day trip from Taree and Port Macquarie and it’s even one of the most popular day trips in the mid-north coast.
If you’re coming from Sydney it takes about 4h30m to drive to Ellenborough Falls.
From Port Macquarie it takes 1h30m to drive to Ellenborough Falls.
3. Do you need a 4wd to get to Ellenborough Falls?
Sometimes when we go exploring around Australia to find waterfalls or hiking spots, driving in our normal car can be a bit tricky and worst of all it can take ages to get to.
When driving to Ellenborough Falls, it’s mainly a normal road apart from the final 20 minutes which is mostly unpaved but it’s not too bad. You can definitely drive to Ellenborough Falls in a 2wd car.
4. Ellenborough Falls Facilities
We couldn’t believe there’s a cafe at Ellenborough Falls because it really does feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. It’s the first waterfall we’ve been to in NSW that actually has a kiosk!
They serve up homemade Aussie pies, sausage rolls, cakes and drinks here. We ordered the steak & mushroom pie which was awesome. Just an FYI – there are also clean toilets located at Ellenborough Falls as well so you won’t need to pee in the bush 😉
5. Where are the lookouts located at Ellenborough Falls?
There are three lookouts at Ellenborough Falls. There’s the main lookout over the top of the falls, the viewing platform and The Knoll which takes you opposite the falls.
The main lookout and viewing platform take just a few minutes to walk to. The Knoll is a bit further on and takes 10 minutes to walk around to the opposite end of the falls.
6. Find the secret lagoon!
The secret lagoon is located just a few minutes walk to the left of the car park. We only found out about it from someone in the car park. He had been to the falls on various occasions and once saw a group of kids walking down a path in their swimmers. When he went to investigate, he found the lagoon.
The lagoon is located at the top of the falls and has a rope swing and crystal clear water. I’m sure in the height of summer, this would be an awesome swimming spot. As it’s close to the car park, you don’t need to hike to the bottom of the falls for a swim.
7. How long does it take to get to the bottom of the waterfall?
We’re always a bit sceptical about how long it takes to get to the bottom of waterfalls in Australia. I must say that it’s pretty easy to get to the bottom of Ellenborough Falls in terms of finding your way.
It’s also legal and is signposted to find the bottom which is complete with decking and stairs to make sure your way down.We timed our walk on my Garmin 235 watch (honestly THIS watch is amazing as it tracks your hikes and you can even access a map of your walk from the built in GPS!). It took us just 15 minutes to walk down and about 30 minutes to walk back up. Bare in mind there are 641 steps!
8. How fit do you have to be to walk to the bottom of the waterfall?
Although there is 641 steps to climb on the hike down to the bottom of Ellenborough Falls, we saw everyone on this hike – from families with young kids to old people.
As it’s quite a short walk, there are some seats throughout the walk so you can rest. We had to stop a fair few times as it’s been a while since we last went hiking!
9. How cold is the water to swim in?
We met an Aussie guy at the bottom of the falls and he told us he had swam in Ellenborough Falls twice before in Summer and he said it was just as cold as it was when we visited on a cold day in October.
I checked out the water temp because you know, as a Brit I think we can handle colder temps a lot more than Aussies (!) and he was right – it was pretty cold. None the less, I’m sure a swim might work a treat after a sweaty climb down to the bottom in the Summer months.
10. What to wear to Ellenborough Falls
It always surprises me when I see people – especially families – wearing totally inappropriate clothes when they go hiking. Whenever you go walking in the bush in Australia, always wear hiking boots no matter what.
I always wear my trusted SCARPA boots I wore when I hiked to Everest Base Camp last year which I bought from HERE. They are super comfy and have a good grip on them. You’ll need a good grip because the path down to the bottom of the falls is very slippery. You’ll also need them to climb over the boulders to get to the base of the falls when you reach the bottom.
I saw so many people wearing thongs and all I thought of was leeches. It had been raining for two days continuously before we did this hike. When it rains in Australia, leeches come out by the dozen in the bush so make sure you cover up.
I also wore my trusted Nike leggings from HERE and my Marmot windproof and waterproof jacket I also wore on the hike to Everest Base Camp from HERE. I actually specifically bought a red jacket because the pop of colour tends to look good against a waterfall or mountainous background 😉
Be prepared to bring some warm clothes because it was much colder here than I was expecting!
Don’t Forget To Watch Our Ellenborough Falls Video!
Read More Mid-North Coast Posts
If you’re travelling to Mid-North Coast, check out the following posts!