Rainforest, pristine beaches, old growth forests- the Coffs coast seems to have it all.
Well throw in some World Heritage listed areas, and we do. This drive will take you south from Coffs via sunny Sawtell onto Dorrigo. Just a few kilometres south from Coffs lies Sawtell, where the quiet life prevails. Pristine white beaches are a draw card here where dolphins and whales are often seen just past the breakers. Bongil Bongil National Park surrounds much of this area, this helps to protect several endangered species of birds and to help protect this fragile environment. A day can be lost here in the Sawtell area with coastal walks, exploring the many beaches and shops or just daydreaming whilst enjoying the sunshine. Heading further south you will pass the turn off to several villages- Mylestrom and North Beach. Great spot beside the ever popular Bellinger River, where actives include waterskiing, fishing and swimming, a fantastic spot for a Sunday picnic.
Just a few kilometres south of here is Urunga. Where two rivers meet the sea. The boardwalk is a must, stretching across mangrove covered sand flats. Watch crabs scatter, waterbirds looking for a feed or wander to the end towards more unspoilt beaches. Continuing back along the Highway, take the Bellingen/Dorrigo turn off. From here you will leave the coastal way of life and dairy farms will soon start to appear. Rich flood plain paddocks are lush with feed for diary cows along the 14 kilometre drive to Bellingen as you wind your way along beside the Bellinger River. Bellingen is highly regarded as an alternative town where the lifestyle takes a step back to nature. Natural food and down to earth locals have Bellingen earmarked as a top tourist spot.
Markets are held here every month where the town comes alive with goods that have been home grown or hand made. Wandering the streets visiting local craft shops, enjoying a fantastic coffee or sitting beside the river watching the water slip by is a must. Heading further west from Bellingen along the Waterfall Way, you soon realise why locals are so passionate about this pristine area. The 30km drive from Bellingen to Dorrigo passes through rich dairy paddocks. The road hasn't changed much over the years, cut hard against solid rock walls yet on the other side it falls away to the upper reaches of the Bellinger River. As you start to climb the mountain, the road twists and cuts around corners lined with tree ferns, white gums covered with forest vines.
Several kilometres up the mountain will see you pass several waterfalls that make for great viewing after rain. Climbing some 762metres above sea level will soon see you enter World Heritage listed areas. Here the air is crisp and cool. Dorrigo is a popular tourist and local destination, with bush walks for all levels, waterfalls, chic cafes and the ever popular Dorrigo Rainforest Centre. At the top of the range the Rainforest centre is sign posted the right. With an awe-aspiring sky walk that juts out on top of this sensitive rainforest, with a bird’s eye view of the forest floor and panoramic views to the Coffs coast it is a magic spot. Basing your self here, there are several easy and hard walks that take you deep into this lush rainforest.
Walk the waterfall track where you can go walk behind Crystal Shower Falls. With an abundant mix of flora and fauna you can see why it has been protected for over 100 years. Dorrigo Township has stood the test of time from when it was alive with timber cutters and miners that seeked a fortune. Dangar falls is a must see along with several local lookouts where it seems you are on top of the world. After a challenging day in the hinterland it is only a 30 min drive back to Coffs or maybe book in to any of the many local accommodation stays here and stay for another day.