Ever wondered what it would be like to ponder through the sheer magic of Dorrigo’s most treasured jewels? Accessible through the Lyre Bird Link is Dorrigo National Park – a rainforest getaway fit for hikers, cyclists, bird watchers and all the adventurous types in-between. This three day itinerary will certainly delight the appetite of nature enthusiasts.
Conveniently, Dorrigo National Park provides its guests with a choice between two predominant circuits: walks around Never Never Picnic Area and walks around Dorrigo Rainforest Centre. Both circuits are surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna; however, if you’d rather enjoy a brisk nature walk rather than a high intensity hike, Dorrigo National Park certainly accommodates for both.
Day One: Rosewood Creek & Red Cedar Falls Trek
Approximate Duration: 5-6 hours
It is no secret that majority of hikers want to be challenged, but in a picturesque environment where the reward strongly outweighs anything else. There are four different walking tracks which range from 2.2km to 6.4km, and these tracks can either be linked together to amount to one long, challenging hike or enjoyed separately. This is a 3 day itinerary to enable you to soak up the natural wonders of Dorrigo Rainforest in the timeliest manner. So, pack a few litres of water, healthy snacks and your best walking shoes, and enjoy the view!
Arrive by car to Never Never Picnic Area, Dorrigo, around 9:30am.
This takes approximately 23 minutes via car.
Today you’ll begin with The Rosewood Creek Track. This is a 5.5km circuit and takes an estimated 2 hours to complete, and is accessible from Never Never Picnic Area. This is a gentle grade and slowly inclined circuit, and exhibits the warm-temperate rainforest of Coachwood, crabapple and sassafras en-route to Coachwood falls. Whilst you can venture back on this same track, there is also a link to the Blackbutt Track which is 6.4km one way.
Return back to the Picnic Area to enjoy a BBQ lunch at around 12pm.
(Alternatively, you can pack lunch to eat on the way if you would prefer to not return to the picnic area and thus make the hike shorter)
Following lunch and some well needed hydration, you’ll enjoy a relatively relaxed stroll to the highest falls in the Dorrigo National Park. Stemming from the Rosewood Creek Track is the Red Cedar Falls Track which is a 2.2km return from Rosewood and lasts for an estimated 2 hours. This track showcases the highest falls in the park accessible from the car park. The only catch is that it is a very steep climb down and back, although the destination will make it all worthwhile.
DayTwo: Blackbutt Track & Casuarina Falls
Approximate Duration: 6 hours
Arrive at the carpark inside the park boundary at around 7:30am.
Take a packed lunch today and plenty of water.
The Blackbutt Track is the longest of the tracks as it takes an estimated 3 hours to complete. It is best walked by beginning at the carpark just inside the park boundary, and walking over to Never Never Picnic Area. This hike is embedded within a beautiful, old growth forest. It is riddled with moist gullies alternate with wooded spurs which is home to gigantic tallowwood, Blackbutt and Brushbox trees soaring to more than 30 metres. This hike is 4km return by road back to the carpark area, however there is a convenient link to the Casuarina Falls Circuit. It is best if you pack a few nutritious snacks and sandwiches to eat on the way. Whilst it may be evident: yes – this track requires a decent amount of energy! And water!
Stop for lunch at 1:30pm along the Blackbutt Track.
You’ll spend the afternoon embarking on a pleasant walk called the Casuarina Falls Circuit. This circuit is only accessible via Rosewood Creek Track and the link to Blackbutt Track, and it is 4.8km return lasting at roughly 2 hours. You’ll be met with exclusive, breathtaking views of McGraths hump and Dorrigo Mountain unfolding from the top of the falls. If you’re ready to call it a day, to return from this track you simply follow the Blackbutt Track alongside Sassafras Creek to return back to Never Never Picnic area.
Return back to the National Park carpark and head back to the Lookout Mountain Retreat for a very well-earned nap.
Day Three: The Wonga Walk & Crystal Shower Falls
With optional: Cathedral Rock Hike
Approximate Duration: Morning Trek 4 hours
Cathedral Rock Option: 4-5 hours with travel time
Arrive at the Glade Picnic Area at around 8am.
Because it’s your last day of pondering through the depths of Dorrigo, you’ll end with a challenging yet spectacular hike called The Wonga Walk. Morning tea can be enjoyed at either one of the falls, so be sure to pack something nutritious and fresh, plus water!
If you’re determined to experience all the wonders of the sub-tropical rainforest, The Wonga Walk will certainly ensure this. This walk is a 5.8km circuit from the Glade Picnic Area (2.5 hours) or a 6.6km circuit from the Rainforest Centre (2-3 hours, depending on your pace).
Today, you’ll be walking this circuit from the Glade Picnic Area.
This track is sealed the entire way by the tall, lush forest. Whilst there are several steeper grades and boulder crossings along this track, you’ll be met with the beautiful Crystal Shower Falls, Tristania Falls, colourful fungi, spectacular 300 year-old trees, and magnificent strangler figs. If you don’t wish to walk the entire Wonga track, there is a suspension bridge which carries walkers across the valley in front of the Crystal Falls, and a turn-off track leading behind the falls into a water-worn cavern. It is truly magical and should not be missed! This track follows terraces formed by successive flows of basalt, exposed by erosion on the edge of the escarpment. After walking the Wonga, you’ll be very knowledgeable about the dynamic rainforest ecology and the incredible origins of the Dorrigo Rainforest.
Return to Lookout Mountain Retreat for lunch or refreshments before you depart for the afternoon adventure!
Cathedral Rock Hike Option
Come the afternoon, you’ll depart Lookout Mountain Retreat around 1:30pm to arrive at Cathedral Rock National Park at 2:30pm.
This hike is just as enjoyable as it is challenging, and it lasts for roughly 1.5-2.5 hours depending on your fitness level. This Grade 5 hike is a 6km loop easily accessible from the Barokee Campground. Follow the circuit clockwise and hike through sub-alpine woodland to summit turnoff.
Cathedral Rock is perched on 200m of stacked boulders, and offers the hiker a natural throne to observe from. The term ‘rock-hopping’ is wildly appropriate for this particular hike as that will be exactly what you will be doing throughout majority of the hike. Ensure that you take care scrambling over the boulders and straddle crevices as boulders can be slippery and hazardous. On your return back to the campground, be sure to follow the circuit around through a protected valley of manna gums. Birdwatching is also a favourite pastime activity on this hike – so ensure you’ve packed a pair of resilient binoculars.
For the intrepid type, bring a headlamp and complete the hike at sunrise or sunset. The view is spectacular so be sure to pack a camera alongside your raincoat, warm clothes and flasks full of a hot beverage of your choice.
Return to Lookout Mountain Retreat for your evening relaxation.