New England National Park
Sweeping panoramas and vistas shrouded in mist, World Heritage – listed rainforest, moss-clad rocks, fern-ﬁlled valleys and tumbling waterways are some of the special treasures of New England National Park. Created in 1935, the park protects stands of Antarctic beech that grow in its cool temperate rainforests.
Ranging across a wide variety of altitudes, from 1560 metres above sea level at its highest point to 100 metres in the Bellinger Valley, this park is home to a surprising array of ﬂora and fauna. Walking tracks make some of the remarkable landscape accessible, but much of it is wilderness, an unspoiled and precious haven for plant and animal life that visitors can appreciate at a distance from superb lookouts.
From Armidale or Dorrigo via Waterfall Way
Summer; be prepared for cold, wet weather at any time of year
652 km north of Sydney (via Armidale); 85 km east of Armidale
- NSWNPWS 1300 361 967
- NPWS Dorrigo (02) 6657 2309
68 722 ha
Dorrigo/Ebor (02) 6657 2486
Featured Activities in the National Park
Survey the park’s wilderness from Point Lookout
Follow the wending creeks over cascading waterfalls
Look for platypuses in the crystalline waterways
- New England National Park, Eco-friendly activity
A look at the past
Europeans have left few tangible signs of their occupation. Some abandoned buildings in a remote part of the park are all that remains of limited mining in the area in the ﬁrst half of the 20th century. The rugged nature of the terrain has largely precluded extensive exploitation of resources such as timber, leaving most of the landscape undisturbed.
The catchments of the Macleay and Thungutti rivers were the traditional territories of the Gumbaingerri and Thungutti tribes respectively.
The eastern escarpment of the New England Tablelands comes to a sudden halt in New England National Park, with a precipitous drop to the coastal valleys and an awesome line of cliffs and bluffs rimming the park. At its highest, the nearly vertical drop is often wreathed in ethereal mist. The park has two major river valleys – the Bellinger and Macleay – and many streams that drain into the rivers have bubbling cascades and swiftly ﬂowing rapids.
The park’s soils, some of them volcanic, are rich and the rainfall is heavy, resulting in the area’s exceptional biodiversity – more than 1000 plant species have been identiﬁed. Snow gum woodland, forest and heath grow on the high plateau, towering eucalypt forests cover the steep slopes and there are tracts of dense rainforest. The rainforest is lush and overgrown, an almost impenetrable tangle of vines, dripping tree ferns, delicate orchids and staghorn ferns, with a canopy of majestic red cedar and yellow carabeen.
Thirty species of native mammals have been recorded, including the commonly seen eastern grey kangaroo, the stockier wallaroo and the shy red-necked wallaby, and rarely sighted nocturnal feeders such as greater gliders and possums. The elusive platypus swims in the pristine streams and the environment supports a dozen or more frog species. Birdlife is also plentiful; more than 100 different species have been recorded. Brush-turkeys, superb lyrebirds and the rufous scrub-bird, a ground-dwelling species with a piercing call, scrape among the debris on the rainforest ﬂoor. Fruit-doves and plump, pale grey wonga pigeons feed on the rainforest fruits and crimson rosellas are common.
Walking, picnicking, camping and enjoying the panoramic outlooks are the main activities. Visitors must be prepared for cold, wet weather at any time.
Although much of the park is inaccessible, or accessible only to experienced walkers who enjoy remote walking, there are about 20 kilometres of tracks. Lyrebird Walk (5.5-km loop, 3.5 hours, medium difficulty) starts at Banksia Point, about 800 metres from Point Lookout, and offers the chance to divert to Weeping Rock, a sheer moss-covered cliff deep in the rainforest. Cascades Walk (5.7-km circuit, 3 hours, hard) will take you along Five Day Creek as it splashes over cascades and waterfalls between king ferns and mossy boulders. Take your time and discover the fascinating fungi en route. Those on longer walks will ﬁnd some fairly rough conditions when descending into the valleys, and walkers planning overnight trips will need to notify the national park ranger’s ofﬁce.
Point Lookout, just 3 kilometres from the entrance, and the park’s highest point (1562 metres above sea level), has two viewing platforms, enabling visitors to survey the wilderness, the escarpment and – on ﬁne days – across to the coastal foothills. (There is wheelchair access to a viewing platform from the carpark.) Eagles Nest Lookout and Wrights Lookout allow you to see other aspects of the park. Forest roads provide access to the eastern side of the park during dry weather. A short walk here leads to the peak of Killiekrankie Mountain, and more spectacular vistas.
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