The top 7 walks in the Manning Valley

From Black Head and Saltwater to Wingham Brush and Ellenborough Falls, the Manning Valley has beautiful walks that provide perfect inspiration for the Barrington Coast brand: “a place where the leaves touch the waters, from the mountains to the sea”.

1. Wingham Brush Boardwalk, Wingham

  • START: Wingham Brush Car Park
  • DISTANCE: 2 km Loop
  • DURATION: 45 minutes
  • GRADE: Easy

This subtropical rainforest remnant is part of the last remaining 10 hectares of floodplain rainforest in NSW. It showcases giant Moreton Bay figs with incredible buttressed roots towering over a gently winding boardwalk in the dim light. Here is one of the largest permanent breeding populations of the endangered grey-headed flying fox in New South Wales. You’ll also be accompanied by brush turkeys and other birds. This type of rainforest once stretched all the way up the Manning River, so take some time to imagine what this lush region once looked like.

2. Ellenborough Falls, Elands

  • START: Ellenborough Falls Car Park
  • DISTANCE: 1.5 km
  • DURATION: 1 hour return
  • GRADE: Moderate/Hard

From Wingham follow Tourist Drive 8 to legendary Ellenborough Falls at Elands, the highest single drop waterfall in New South Wales at 200m. The car park at the top is close to several observations points but to really experience the falls, take the 641 timber steps to the bottom of the ravine. You’ll descend through changing forest habitats, getting darker and moister towards the bottom. At the base of the falls, you’ll be mesmerized by the view looking back up, feeling the spray and hearing the roar of the falls. If you prefer to avoid all those steps, take the shorter option to the Knoll which has an observation point opposite the falls.

3. Cattai Wetlands Loop, Coopernook (currently closed for repairs)

  • START: Spring Hill Rd, Coopernook
  • DISTANCE: 3.3 km
  • DURATION: 1.5 hours
  • GRADE: Easy

Located just off the Pacific Highway, 20 minutes north of Taree, Cattai Wetlands is a hidden gem of the Barrington Coast. A nature reserve owned by MidCoast Council, Cattai is a beautiful coastal wetland that provides a sanctuary for over 180 different species of birds, kangaroos, wallabies and goannas. The walk ahead is a 2.3km round trip with stops along the way. The following optional walking tracks are also available: Lookout Loop will add an extra 1.1km to your walk and provides stunning views of the Three Brothers Mountain; Forest Loop will add an extra 840m to your walk and provides a shady walk through coastal blackbutt forest.

4. Harrington Heritage Walk and Break Wall, Harrington

  • START: Harrington Hotel, Beach St, Harrington
  • DISTANCE: 5 km
  • DURATION: 2 hours
  • GRADE: Easy

The Heritage walk starts at the Harrington Hotel on Beach Street; meander along the water's edge where there are figures commemorating maritime pilots and early workers of Harrington. Continue the walk past the War Memorial Hall, the Pilot Station, a historical residence at 3 Beach Street. At the end of this walk, the breakwall is hard to miss. The entrance is on Beach Street and there is a large car park on your right. The break wall is approximately 2.7 km long and there is seating at intervals along the way where you can rest. It is broken into two arms, one heading north, towards the Pacific Ocean (with sand over the rocks) and the other south across the opening to the Manning River. For an enjoyable stroll, head along the south of the wall towards the gantry. The 1.65km path is concrete so it is relatively easy to push a pram or ride a bike.

5. Diamond Head Loop Walk, Crowdy Bay National Park

  • START: Diamond Head Campground
  • DISTANCE: 5 km
  • DURATION: 2 hours
  • GRADE: Easy

Diamond Head loop walk is the ideal introduction to the splendour of Crowdy Bay National Park at the northern boundary of the Barrington Coast. Starting at Diamond Head campground, you'll link up with Headland walking track and Forest walking track for a walk packed with visual delights, which highlights why this park is a national treasure. It's thought that Diamond Head draws its name from the quartz crystals in the cliffs and you might see them sparkling in the sunlight. The headland rises dramatically and offers panoramic views across Crowdy Bay, north to Perpendicular Point and south to Crowdy Head. In between are superb sweeps of golden sand, and rising out of the lush forested hinterland, behind you, are the majestic Three Brothers mountains.

6. Five Islands Track and Headland Track, Saltwater National Park

  • START: Saltwater Picnic Area, Saltwater National Park
  • DISTANCE: 3 km
  • DURATION: 1 hour
  • GRADE: Easy

From Taree take Old Bar Road then turn right at Saltwater Road for this small but impressive national park. Aboriginal heritage is plentiful at Saltwater National Park and you'll see traces of their heritage in the form of scarred trees, middens and fish traps. On the Five Islands Walking Track you can explore the surrounding saltwater and freshwater environments. Setting out from Saltwater picnic area, this flat to gently rippled walk meanders through coastal heath and paperbark swamp before it crosses over Saltwater Gully, where you’ll enter Khappinghat Nature Reserve in the west. Saltwater Gully forms part of a system of waterways which means you’ll experience rainforest, mangroves, salt flats, sedge and wetlands, all in one walk. Khappinghat Creek, where you can see the 'five islands', is the largest area of undeveloped wetlands and the only naturally opening and closing estuarine system on the mid north coast of NSW. The Headland Walking Track is a short, leisurely stroll that takes you through lovely rainforest to the headland. Experience amazing views out over Saltwater Beach, Khappinghat Creek and Pacific Ocean.

7. Black Head Rainforest Reserve and Pebbly Beach, Black Head

  • START: Black Head Headland Track
  • DISTANCE: 5 km
  • DURATION: 2 hours
  • GRADE: Moderate

This track starts from the headland at Black Head. There are two lookouts, the northernmost is in need of an elevated platform to get a good view north of Razorback, a dramatic sea stack and a large tilted rock platform with pools and a cave. At low tide you from reach there from Black Head ocean baths. From the second lookout you can see a chasm eroded by wave action on softer rock. Dogs are not allowed on this track. The track meanders through littoral rainforest down to a small footbridge and continues south to Pebbly Beach which has two small sea stacks and two clearly defined notches or caves cut by wave action. There are many small rock pools and a pretty sandy beach. The track continues south across the rocks to Back Beach. Across the bridge from Back Beach, the track follows a small estuarine lagoon and then goes up some steps to a wind-sheared brush box forest. The track wanders through littoral rainforest finally reaching the Bowling Club car park. It is common to see Brush Turkeys in this reserve. Dogs are not permitted on this track.

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