Armidale makes a good staging-post north through the New England Plains or east to the coast through some of Australia’s most beautiful national parks. The main access road, the sealed World Heritage drive Waterfall Way, travels to Coffs Harbour via hundreds of kilometres of rainforest roads, waterfalls and lookouts. The exceptional New England National Park, 85km east, and the several patchwork sections of the Oxley Wild Rivers, Guy Fawkes River and Cathedral Rock national parks around it are full of ancient ferns, towering canopy trees, gorges and spectacular waterfalls (although the falls can diminish to a trickle during prolonged dry spells).
The Wollomombi Falls are among the highest waterfalls in Australia, plunging 225m into a gorge just over 40km east of Armidale, off the road to Dorrigo. Nearby are the Chandler Falls, while Ebor Falls, a stunning double-drop of the Guy Fawkes River, can be viewed from platforms just off Waterfall Way, another 40km beyond Wollomombi.
Between Wollomombi and Ebor, Point Lookout in the New England National Park offers a truly wonderful panoramic view across the forested ranges – you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in the middle of the Amazon. The road to the lookout is unsealed gravel, but is usually in reasonable condition. The rest of the park is virtually inaccessible wilderness.