4 breathtaking rainforest experiences in NSW

Embrace the breathtaking beauty of NSW’s stunning, ancient rainforests.

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

Jan 2022 -
min read

The modern world ceases to exist when you step into a rainforest. The cars, the buildings, the technology, the rush: they’re all gone. What you have instead is the world the way it always was, the way it was tens of thousands of years ago. These NSW rainforests are the ultimate jaw-droppers, the perfect place to just gaze at the beauty of nature and feel its power.  

Scenic views of Dorrigo National Park from behind Crystal Shower Falls at Dorrigo in Coffs Coast

Crystal Shower Falls, Dorrigo National Park

Budderoo National Park

One of the great things about Budderoo and the Minnamurra Rainforest is their accessibility. This beautiful area near the NSW South Coast is easily reachable by car from Sydney, and it’s easy to get around, with elevated walkways and paved tracks allowing even those who might not usually tackle a national park walking trail to experience this gorgeous environment.

What to see: Budderoo is known for its waterfalls, and you can’t visit without seeing at least a few. The easiest to get to is Minnamurra Falls, a series of cascades set deep in the forest. Elsewhere, Carrington Falls is another highlight, as is Nellies Glen, the perfect spot for a picnic.

What to look for: This is a great park for birdwatchers. Keep a sharp eye out for rare lyrebirds, as well as bowerbirds and king parrots. Budderoo is also home to swamp wallabies and water dragons.

Best walks: The most popular is the 4.2km Minnamurra Falls walk, along boardwalks and paved tracks. Other favourites include the 1.1km Izzards Lookout track, and the stunning 1.6km Lyrebird Loop.

When to go: April to August is lyrebird breeding season, and understandably popular. Spring and summer are also lovely.

Woman enjoying the scenic walk by the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre in Budderoo National Park, South Coast

Minnamurra Rainforest Centre, Budderoo National Park

Dorrigo National Park

Do you want to talk about ancient landscapes? Dorrigo National Park is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, a natural wonder literally millions of years in the making. The plant and animal species here have lineages that date back to the time of the Gondwana supercontinent, which makes a visit here a true step back in time.

What to see: There are a range of forest environments and other landmarks worth taking the time to discover, from the gorgeous Crystal Shower Falls to Red Cedar Falls to the Never Never picnic area.

What to look for: Gondwana-era species, the likes of red-necked pademelons, wompoo fruit-doves, and regent bowerbirds. There are also lyrebirds here.

Best walks: The 6.6km Wonga Walk takes in everything that makes Dorrigo great, from huge trees to flitting birds to the majesty of Crystal Shower Falls (the 3.2km Crystal Shower Falls walk will suit those with less time). Those keen on a longer stroll should try the 9km Rosewood Creek circuit, which goes via numerous swimming holes.

When to go: In spring, the forest is alive with birdlife, while summer brings the chance to cool off in waterfalls and swimming holes.

Skywalk lookout - Dorrigo National Park - Coffs Harbour

Skywalk lookout, Dorrigo National Park, Coffs Harbour - Credit: Rob Cleary

Barrington Tops

Set just in from the coast about 3hrs north of Sydney, Barrington Tops is another Gondwana rainforest rich with native flora and fauna. The park rises dramatically from near sea level to 1,500m, and is one of the largest temperate forests in Australia. Barrington is a bushwalker’s paradise, with everything from gentle loops to challenging multi-day adventures.

What to see: Barrington has some excellent lookout points, including Devils Hole and Careys Peak. There are waterfalls, too, along the Gloucester River, and a lovely picnic area at Jerusalem Creek. For 4WDers, meanwhile, the Barrington Trail is legendary.

What to look for: Lucky hikers can expect to see the likes of lyrebirds and brush turkeys, as well as wallabies, wombats, possums and more.

Best walks: The 2.5km Antarctic Beech Forest Walking Track takes in rainforest, waterfalls, scenic views and birdlife – the perfect Barrington taster. For something more challenging, try the 20km Corker Trail, an overnighter that includes an ascent of Careys Peak.

When to go: In autumn, Barrington is cool and dry; spring is all about orchids and wildflowers; while summer is the season to spot water dragons.

Two women hiking the Gloucester Tops circuit in Barrington Tops National Park

Gloucester Tops, Barrington Tops National Park - Credit: Destination Barrington Coast

Blue Mountains National Park

There are multiple rainforest environments within this spectacular national park, an hour west of Sydney, in areas such as Blackheath, Glenbrook, Katoomba and Mount Wilson. Each offers something amazing for visitors, with pristine forest and numerous ways in which to explore and appreciate it.

What to see: There are some real big-ticket items in the Blue Mountains, from the Three Sisters to Wentworth Falls, Grose Valley to Echo Point. This is also, however, a place to take a quiet walk through deserted forest, or learn more about Indigenous culture at the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre.

What to look for: Tiger quolls, yellow-bellied gliders, koalas and even dingos; plus, on the flora side, banksias, wattles and waratahs.

Best walks: So many choices, though to take in the best of the park, try the 6km Grand Canyon Track, the 7km Prince Henry Cliff Walk or the 13km Federal Pass.

When to go: Blue Mountains National Park is open year-round and has something to offer in all seasons – just be sure to wear warm clothes in winter.

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