A visit to Wollomombi Falls

Although today was a bit dismal weather wise we decided to visit the Wollomombi falls about 40 km south of Armidale.

We were told this was a “must see” and that, because of the recent heavy rains, the falls were at their best.

Arriving at the Oxley Rivers National Park we walked the 150 metres from the car park to a viewing platform jutting out from sheer cliffs that plunge 220 vertical metres to the river below.

Looking to the south from the lookout the falls offered a truly spectacular sight. To the left the Wollomombi falls were seemingly erupting from out of invisible caverns within the sheer rock walls.

Millions of megalitres of water cascades to the valley floor 220 metres below.

Millions of megalitres of water cascades to the valley floor 220 metres below.

What actually was happening was that the river was flowing full force across miles of lush tablelands around where the tiny town of Wollomombi stands. On its arrival at the point where the tablelands abruptly give way to a huge cavernous gorge the river explodes over the edge sending huge torrents of water far down to the bottom. The force and weight of the river’s flow, now with no river bed to transport its load, casts it’s waters many metres out into space before, as if surprised to be travelling through mid air, it tumbles with awesome power onto the valley floor far below.

This process happens twice as just to the right of the platform another river, The Chandler, takes the same course over the gorge’s edge from the tablelands further to the south.

The Wollomombi and Chandler Falls combine into one river on the valley floor

The Wollomombi and Chandler Falls combine into one river on the valley floor

The flows from the two falls meet at the bottom of the gorge and form one river. The aboriginal meaning of the word Wollomombi perfectly describes the scene far below on the gorge floor – “meeting of two waters”.

We walked a further 350 metres to another lookout, Checks Lookout, where the view was even more spectacular.

We could see the results of the tremendous upheavals of the past where pieces of the sheer cliffs had broken off and tumbled into the gorge, often resulting in the massive chunks being crushed on the way down to form a sandy, loamy soil that gives a tiny and precarious foundation for new plant life to spring up.

One cannot help but ponder on the cataclysmic forces that combined to torture and split the land in such a way long ago and also at the wonder of the plants that have managed to survive for many years clinging to smallest of clefts in the cliffs.

We could easily have wiled away many mores hours exploring the walks around the falls but the rain arrived in waves of heavy falls that made the tracks sloppy and difficult. As a result we headed back to Armidale and the Dam, stopping briefly at the tiny village of Wollomombi.

We’ll hopefully go back to this area before we move on again.