Ellenborough Falls

Best after rain, a high waterfall you can see from the car park, or tackle the 641 stairs to the base

Trail information

Ellenborough Falls

The viewing platform at the car park is the easy, quick way to see Ellenborough Falls. If you have more time, you can walk to the head of the falls, then to the Knoll (with a small detour past the picnic site at Tallowwood grove), and finally down 641 wooden steps to the bottom of the falls.

The Ellenborough River drops off the Bulga Plateau at the falls, into a gorge, then flows to the Hastings River. The falls were flowing strongly, and it was misty and wet at the base of the falls when we visited, after a week of rain. All types of fungi were fruiting in the wet forest.

This is Biripi country, who had a track over the Bulga plateau for ceremonies with neighbouring peoples. Bulga means waterfall. John Oxley was the first European to explore the plateau, followed as usual by timber getters and gold seekers. An alternative community thrived at Elands in the 70s. I don’t know why it is named Elands, there are no large antelope (Taurotragus oryx) here.

The sign the local council have installed at Ellenborough Falls makes an interesting claim. “In a major revision of Australian geographical fact, Ellenborough Falls has been found to be Australia’s and the southern hemisphere’s second highest waterfall with a single drop of 200 metres“. Hmm. Perhaps we should inform them of the existence of other countries in the southern hemisphere, besides Australia? Maybe news hasn’t yet reached the Bulga Plateau of the incredible Tugela Falls in South Africa, the highest waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere with a fall of 948 metres, and Mutarazi Falls in Zimbabwe at 772m, and numerous waterfalls in New Zealand, starting with Browne Falls at 836m? I fact checked the source of Australian geographic data – at least three other Australian waterfalls, including Wollomombi Falls in NSW, are higher than the 160m Ellenborough Falls.

Next, I foolishly decided to fact-check the “641 steps” claim. Huff puff, huff puff, and somewhere along the way I got confused. Was I on 500 or 600? I’m not going back down to the bottom to start counting again, so we will take that 641 number as correct. Notice how my GPX tracks zig zag all over the place – either the track is demented, or my device couldn’t get a good fix on satellites in the forest down the ravine. The track and steps can be slippery when wet. Some benches along the way offer an opportunity for a rest.

At the carpark, there are toilets, picnic tables and a kiosk (open Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

Combine your visit to Ellenborough Falls with the walk to Rawson Falls, in Boongara Nature Reserve near Combine.


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Best Walks on the NSW Mid-North Coast has 40 walks from Port Macquarie to the Coffs Coast and Clarence Valley.

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