Julie and I anticipated a visit to Wollomombi Falls considering there had been a fair bit of literature devoted to it as being one of Australia’s tallest single-drop waterfalls at a reported 220m (or 260m according to the signage here). I’m sure there would probably be some academic debate over this, but in any case, we happened to have visited this waterfall with a somewhat disappointing low flow though it was still visible from the handful of viewpoints across the Wollomombi Gorge. Adding to the disappointing visit was that the morning we showed up in May 2008, all the viewpoints were looking right against the sun while the shadowy gorge ensured the attractions would either be concealed by darkness or the sunlit regions would be blown out in our photos. Indeed, Julie and I are due for a return trip to see this waterfall the way it was supposed to be seen.
The name of the falls was said to be derived from an aboriginal word “Wollumbi” roughly meaning “meeting of waters.” I presume the meeting of waters pertained to both Wollomombi Falls and Chandler Falls converging into the Chandler River deep in the gorge. Julie and I were barely able to see Chandler Falls cascading its way down the gorge opposite Wollomombi Falls. Certainly under more normal waterflow (and more agreeable lighting conditions), this waterfall pairing would certainly be quite the sight to behold.
As for an explanation of the low waterflow, apparently this section of the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park was still recovering from drought conditions. Some drainages like the one responsible for Tia Falls was flowing quite well, while other drainages responsible for Dangarsleigh Falls and Bakers Creek Falls were practically dry. Apparently the Chandler River drainage suffered the same fate as the latter two. We also noticed some agricultural developments in the area, which made us wonder whether the drainages might have been adversely affected due to the clearing that might have taken place further upstream.
Julie and I spent about 40 minutes at the Falls Lookouts. We went as far as the Checks Lookout some 400m away from the car park. However, we didn’t bother doing any more hiking towards the Chandler River Lookout (1.4km away), Chandler River access (2.8km away), or even the Chandler River Track (4 hours return). Maybe we’ll have more to say about this place if we’re fortunate to return here under more “normal” conditions.
The falls is accessed off a well-signed turnoff about 38km east of Armidale along the so-called Waterfall Way (i.e. the Armidale-Dorrigo Road, Hwy 78). The turnoff was about 15km east of the turnoff for Bakers Creek Falls.
Contextually, Wollomombi Falls was around 151km (2 hours drive) west of Coffs Harbour. Coffs Harbour was 391km south of Brisbane, 157km north of Port Macquarie, and 537km (6 hours drive) north of Sydney.
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