I Visited Bellingen’s Instagram-Famous Waterfall. It Was A Complete Disaster

If nature intended you to shower underneath waterfalls, it would have left conditioner and handrails...

I Visited Bellingen’s Instagram-Famous Waterfall. It Was A Complete Disaster

Image: Visit NSW

Dorrigo National Park is home to a Big Trickle. Actually, make that several. One has a bigger social media presence than all the rest though; Dangar Falls.

Boasting 5,638 Instagram posts which use the ‘Dangar Falls’ hashtag (as well as hundreds more under the ‘Dangar Falls’ geotag), social media does a cooler job of promoting destinations like these, these days, than tourism agencies.

For comparison: at the time of writing Ebor Falls, another of NSW’s most popular waterfalls, has 4,209 Instagram hashtags to its name, Wollomombi Falls has 863, Kanangra Falls has 136 and Tin Mine Falls has just 6.

There is, admittedly, Carrington Falls, which has been hashtagged on Instagram 6,215 times. But Carrington Falls is in the Southern Highlands and – unlike Dangar Falls, which is ‘hinterland adjacent’ – has yet to succumb to the Byron Bay Effect.

That effect? Users turning up to take photos of themselves with the falls as a backdrop, rather than turning up to take a photo of the falls itself.


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Anyway, I went not to judge These New Introspectives, but to join them, hoping Dangar Falls would be just what I needed to crawl out of my social media rut. My meagre ‘follower count’ in mind, I burned my collected works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, packed my most flattering board shorts, and set off.

Dangar Falls is on the east coast of Australia, a six hour drive north of Sydney (one hour south of Coffs Harbour). I drove up from Sydney, with broken air conditioning, dreaming of a cool, bubbling oasis.

Upon arrival in Bellingen (other than Dorrigo itself, the closest town to Dangar Falls), I checked into my Airbnb, and then my watch. 5:30pm. With rains predicted for the next two days and ‘last light’ due at 8pm, I decided to take the plunge.


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I drove up the windy mountain road, feeling like I was more on my way to a ski lodge than a waterfall. I irritated countless local drivers with my nervy braking (and slow pace), and finally, after approximately 59 mistimed bends, arrived at the Dangar Falls car park.

Dangar Falls shut. Dangerous terrain. Repair work underway. No pedestrian access. Still stinking hot.

A disaster.

Instagram hopes dashed, I drove to the Crystal Showers Falls walk, which involves an even longer hike (an hour and a half round trip to Dangar Falls’ half-hour).

Though the Gondwanan forest was humbling, the falls themselves were another disaster.

Though I was hoping to mimic the ‘rippling abs’ and mystical ‘chasing waterfalls’ ~vibe~ of other Instagram users…


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… the end result was more ‘pale man struggles to stand beneath gentle trickle.’


Even with sneakers on, standing under the waterfall proved futile. Showering ‘like nature intended’ my Billabong branded ass.

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I also found out – after having rushed back for fear of having to trek back in the dark – that Crystal Shower Falls possesses a hidden secret which only can be seen at night.

According to Walk My World, “At night it is lit by hundreds of twinkling blue lights – it’s a hidden glow worm colony that absolutely no one we met knew about, including the visitor centre!”

The more you know, I suppose.

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