Ellenborough Falls

Elands / Comboyne / Manning Valley, New South Wales, Australia

About Ellenborough Falls

Hiking Distance: 1km round trip (both base and Knoll)
Suggested Time: 60 minutes

Date first visited: 2008-05-05
Date last visited: 2008-05-05

Waterfall Latitude: -31.61163
Waterfall Longitude: 152.29258

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

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.

Ellenborough_Falls_054_05042008 - Ellenborough Falls
Ellenborough Falls

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.

A developed walking path that arced around the head of the gorge connected all of these vantage points.

One spur path descended some stairs that took us deeper into the depths of the gorge to get close to the bottom of Ellenborough Falls.

Ellenborough_Falls_039_05042008 - Ellenborough Falls from across the Ellenborough Gorge
Ellenborough Falls from across the Ellenborough Gorge

Julie and I took about 90 minutes to fully experience this falls and the easy walking paths.

We probably could have spent even more time here though we competed with the onset of nightfall during our late afternoon visit so we couldn’t linger for too long.

The Ellenborough Falls Experience

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.

Ellenborough_Falls_020_05042008 - Julie descending steps to access the base of Ellenborough Falls
Julie descending steps to access the base of Ellenborough Falls

Such views reminded us of our waterfalling experiences at Fitzroy Falls since they both seemed to drop in a similar manner.

However, as we swung further around the head of the gorge, we then encountered the steps leading down to the base of Ellenborough Falls.

We found the 641 steps to be pretty straightforward to walk.

That said, we did have to mind a couple of spots where fallen trees and limbs made us have to limbo our way beneath them.

Ellenborough_Falls_024_05042008 - Looking up at Ellenborough Falls from its misty base
Looking up at Ellenborough Falls from its misty base

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.

We also had to protect the camera lens against the waterfall’s mist swirling about its base.

As we went back up to the main track, we then continued further along the rim of the gorge.

After going past a termite mound, we then arrived at the very satisfying view of Ellenborough Falls from across the gorge.

Ellenborough_Falls_030_05042008 - A big termite mound alongside the trail taking in the various views of Ellenborough Falls
A big termite mound alongside the trail taking in the various views of Ellenborough Falls

Julie and I turned around at this viewpoint.

Fudging With The Numbers?

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 originally-printed 160 below it.

It kind of makes you wonder which number was correct, doesn’t it?

In the literature, we noticed claims that Ellenborough Falls got the title of the second highest single-drop waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere.

Ellenborough_Falls_064_05042008 - A handwritten revision of the height of Ellenborough Falls on this sign we saw at the car park
A handwritten revision of the height of Ellenborough Falls on this sign we saw at the car park

That seemed to be a rather lofty claim since that would essentially discount 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.


Ellenborough Falls resides in the Ellenborough Falls Reserve, which itself sits within the Manning Valley region of the Barrington Coast near Comboyne, New South Wales. It is administered by the Midcoast Council. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website or Facebook page.

Ellenborough_Falls_004_05042008 - Our first look at Ellenborough Falls from the first overlook
Ellenborough_Falls_015_05042008 - Julie going down the steps to the base of Ellenborough Falls
Ellenborough_Falls_017_05042008 - This was one of the overgrown parts we had to limbo beneath while on the steps to the base of Ellenborough Falls
Ellenborough_Falls_022_05042008 - View from the base of the Ellenborough Falls
Ellenborough_Falls_026_05042008 - Julie at the end of the spur trail in front of the misty base of Ellenborough Falls
Ellenborough_Falls_033_05042008 - Julie at the overlook across the gorge of Ellenborough Falls
Ellenborough_Falls_044_05042008 - Last look at Ellenborough Falls before returning back to the car park
Ellenborough_Falls_055_05042008 - Our last look back at Ellenborough Falls before we headed back to Port Macquarie

I remembered driving to this waterfall was nontrivial because we were staying in Port Macquarie, which was probably at least 90 minutes drive.

A large chunk of the drive involved going over tyre-popping unsealed road.

On the way back to Port Macquarie, we took a “shortcut” that ended up being a roughly 2.5-hour drive.

A a large part of that drive ended up 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 so 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.

For further context, Port Macquarie was 391km (over 4 hours drive) north of Sydney and 548km (6.5 hours drive) south of Brisbane.

Find A Place To Stay

Fixated on a profile top down view of the falls going into the gorge

Bottom up sweep from the misty base of the falls

Fixated on the falls from the overlook directly across the gorge

Tagged with: elands, comboyne, taree, new south wales, australia, waterfall, port macquarie, bulga, manning valley, midcoast council

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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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