Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Waterfall Way, NSW, Australia -- Mon., Nov. 19

Tristania Falls
The Waterfall Way
Running between Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales coast and the elevated, inland city of Armidale, the Waterfall Way is a 200 km [124 mi] drive along one of the most scenic routes in NSW. Passing through picturesque Belliger Valley up onto the Dorrigo Plateau and the New England Tablelands...Waterfall Way passes through, or very close to, a number of stunning North NSW National Parks--World Heritage Dorrigo National Park, New England National Park, Cathedral Rocks National Park and Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. These are home to many rare and endangered plants and animals that live in an incredible variety of habitats, not to mention some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the country, which give the route its name.
The above quote is from the NSW Government Industry and Investment brochure titled "Waterfalls on the Waterfall Way."

This morning we had breakfast at The Clog Barn on Pacific Highway in Coffs Harbour to give us energy for today's Wonga Walk. As we ate, we overlooked a creek and had a couple of bird visitors outside the window.

Australian brush turkey.
Azure kingfisher (Alcedo azurea)

A one-hour drive later we were at the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre talking to the ranger about the Wonga Walk, the Skywalk and stinging trees. We spent a few minutes in the visitor centre looking over the exhibits, then headed outside to look over the escarpment on the Skywalk. What a view! You can see to the ocean.

Skywalk looking north toward more mountains.
Skywalk looking toward visitor centre.
Overview of the rainforest complete, we headed off on the 6 km Wonga Walk, starting out on the Lyrebird Link trail. We were soon immersed in a primeval, aboriginal rainforest with alien-sounding birds making calls like crying babies or loud "quoits." Oh how I wished we could have seen the green catbirds, whipbirds, honeyeaters and other tropical birds. They teased us by flitting in the bushes, running down the trail or calling from high atop the rainforest. I caught one juvenile bird whose momma was calling to it from higher up in the trees.
Juvenile bird (flame robin or rock warbler?)

Female brush bronzewing.
Such verdant rainforest. Vines tangle and wind, creating twists and braids, which help to hold the large trees in the rainforest together though high winds.

Rainforest path.
Twisted vines.

Vines everywhere.
The trees are so tall!
Watch out for stinging trees! The leaves apparently cause quite the severe stings. The ranger said if we got stung to see them and they would perform first aid. I wasn't about to touch them to find out. At least the trees are easy to distinguish.

Stinging trees.
The flowers and fruits of the trees in the forest provide nectar and food for the birds and other animals of the rainforest. Have you ever heard of a quoll? No? Neither had I. Check out this unusual animal: quoll. (All my Scrabble buddies can thank me later for another "q" word!)

You're probably wondering, "Where are all the waterfalls?" since this is Waterfall Way. Coming right up! Sherrard Falls is right next to the Waterfall Way highway. Tristania and Crystal Shower Falls are in Dorrigo National Park on the Wonga Walk.

Sherrard Falls, next to road. Best viewed going downhill.

Tristania Falls.
Crystal Shower Falls

Walk behind Crystal Shower Falls.
Bridge at Crystal Shower Falls taken from behind waterfall.
Bob on suspension bridge at Crystal Shower Falls.
 Closer back to the Rainforest Centre on the Wonga Walk, we strolled along the "Walk with the Birds boadwalk." This elevated boardwalk is at the mid-level of the rainforest making it easier to spot birds, flowers and seeds than from the ground-level walks. (Note: We were there at mid-day and many of the birds come out early in the morning or in the late afternoon so we didn't see any birds on this part of the walk.)
Walk with the Birds boardwalk
Vines and epiphytes on the tall trees.
We finished the Wonga Walk and headed off to see more of the waterfalls along Waterfall Way. Next up was Dangar Falls in the town of Dorrigo. In the summer, people swim in the pool at the base of the falls.
Dangar Falls (not to be confused with Dangars Falls).
Bob "kidding" around--bakery treat in hand.
As Bob was backing out of the parking space at Dangar Falls, vertigo hit me. The world started swirling. I had to keep my eyes closed.

We headed off to Ebor Falls about 25 minutes away. On the way, we had to stop for a cattle drive. Luckily they cleared the cows off the road for the traffic.

Note the cattle herding dogs to the left of the horse.
When we arrived at the falls, I told Bob he would have to go take photos for me because I couldn't walk I was so dizzy. He went, took photos, came back to the car and told me I "had" to see the falls because they were so beautiful and dramatic. I got out of the car, kept my eyes closed and held on to him for dear life so I wouldn't fall over. (For those of you who have never experienced vertigo, it is like being super drunk but you haven't had a drink.) We made it to the viewing platform and Ebor Falls (Upper and Lower) are indeed gorgeous.

Upper and Lower Ebor Falls and gorge--photo by Bob.
Upper Ebor Falls--photo by Bob.
Lower Ebor Falls -- photo by Bob.

Park at Ebor Falls -- photo by Susan.
Begging young Australian magpie on the right, Mom with food on left.
Beautiful scenes from our drive back to Coffs Harbour. Lots of farmland in the valleys, on the plateaus and on the tablelands. Livestock raised includes sheep, cows, horses, emus...we even saw a couple of donkeys.

And one last photo of a cool bridge on Pacific Highway 1.

We had a jam-packed, spectacular, full day of exploring the lower reaches of Waterfall Way. Tomorrow we will check out the upper reaches of Waterfall Way.

My vertigo continued all the way back to our timeshare. I had to keep my eyes closed most of the ride back. Normally I would have driven home, but Bob drove the whole way. It was a long driving day for him because I had only driven an hour or two in the morning.

We picked up chicken dinner at Red Rooster to eat in our room. After dinner, I climbed into bed and crashed out at 8:00 p.m. after doing my vertigo exercises.

When I woke up at 5:00 a.m. Tuesday morning (my 60th birthday), I felt great and was raring to go.

Travel Bug out.