Ellenborough Falls was a very pleasingly high-flowing waterfall plunging high off the cliffs surrounding the Ellenborough Gorge. Julie and I found this beautiful waterfall to be one of our favorites in Australia, and we even gave it a spot on our Top 10 Australian Waterfalls List. What really stood out about this waterfall in our minds were the pleasing flow, the size, and the gorge setting, which also reminded us of the way Fitzroy Falls would leap off its escarpment. Julie and I even found a fairly sizable termite mound as we were exploring the various ways we could experience this waterfall.
Speaking of which, we got to see this waterfall from at least a trio of lookouts at its top, its bottom, and from across the gorge. All of these vantage points were connected by a developed walking path that arced around the head of the gorge with stairs on a spur path to take us deeper inside its depths. It was a pretty easy walk that took Julie and I about 90 minutes to fully experience. We probably could have spent even more time here though we were competing with the onset of nightfall so we couldn’t linger for too long.
From the car park, the first overlook was at the top of the falls near the head of the Ellenborough Gorge. This was where we got those views of the waterfall’s profile plunging into the gorge, and it was where we were reminded of how waterfalling Fitzroy Falls would be like. However, as we swung further around the head of the gorge, we then encountered the steps leading down to the base of Ellenborough Falls. The 641 steps were pretty straightforward to walk though there were a couple of spots where fallen trees and limbs made us have to limbo our way beneath them. Once we were at the base of the falls, we found out that we would need a wide angle lens to capture all of the waterfall though we also had to be wary about mist swirling about at the waterfall’s base. As we went back up to the main track then continued further along the rim of the gorge, we then went past a termite mound before arriving at the view of Ellenborough Falls from across the gorge. That was our turnaround point.
Finally, I do have to point out that even though the falls were said to be 200m tall, Julie and I found it funny that they had a sign where a handwritten “200” in black marker covered up the printed 160 below it (hmm, kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it?). There were also claims that this was the second highest single-drop waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere, but that seemed to be a rather lofty claim since that would be essentially discounting waterfalls with taller drops in Africa or South America, I’m sure. Anyhow, encyclopedic trivia aside, there were other interpretive signs we encountered along the way to keep us educated about the ecology, geology, and the history of the Bulga Plateau.
I remembered driving to this waterfall was nontrivial because we were staying in Port Macquarie and it was probably at least 90 minutes drive with a large chunk of the drive on tire-popping unsealed road. On the way back to Port Macquarie, we took a “shortcut” that ended up being a roughly 2.5-hour drive with a large part of it in the dark (you know, when kangaroos and other animals are out and hop in front of you thereby increasing the chances of a car-damaging collision)! Doh!
In hindsight, we should’ve gone back the way we came. We’ll spare you the shortcut details because it wasn’t a shortcut.
From Port Macquarie, we followed the Oxley Highway (Hwy 34) for about 30km until we turned left onto Comboyne Road. We followed this road for about 34km, which became unsealed after passing through the town of Comboyne. After the road became unsealed, we followed it for 7km more until we turned right onto Bulga Rd. Then, for just under 17km, Bulga Rd entered the town of Elands where we then turned right onto Glenwarrin Rd. Following this road (which eventually became Doyles River Rd), we then turned right onto Ellenborough Falls Rd after 3.3km. From there, it was another 500m to the car park for the falls.
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