Planning is underway for the new Dorrigo Arc Rainforest Centre and Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk.

A new multi-day walk and visitor centre are proposed for Dorrigo National Park.

The centrepiece of proposed upgrades to Dorrigo National Park is a brand-new Arc Rainforest Centre which will feature a spectacular boardwalk and lookout to offer accessible and exceptional experiences for visitors.

The visitor centre will be a unique starting point for the stunning new multi-day walk along the escarpment edge through Gondwana World Heritage rainforests, with hut and camping accommodation.

The Arc Rainforest Centre, combined with the new multi-day walk, aims to engage more visitors for longer periods with sustainable nature-based experiences to support NSW tourism and local jobs.

The $56.4 million project was announced by the NSW Government in June 2022.

The project aims to improve and expand the opportunities available for people on the NSW North Coast to experience nature in ways that are positive and meaningful.

The government is planning to start improvements to the existing tracks next year while it finalises the plans of management and masterplans. It expects these plans to be complete by the end of 2023, allowing sufficient time for community consultation, with construction of the new walking track to commence in 2024.

What the project involves

The Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk project proposes 2 main components to be constructed in stages:

  • The Dorrigo Arc Rainforest Centre – a new visitor centre and treetop walkway on the footprint of the existing Dorrigo Rainforest Centre, that will provide an improved rainforest experience and accessible access to the existing Balaminda welcome platform and Wonga Walk.
  • The Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk – a 46-kilometre multi-day walk with 4 purpose-built communal low impact walkers’ huts and camping areas, including a number of additional shorter walking options.

Arc Rainforest Centre

The proposal’s centrepiece is a new Arc Rainforest Centre which will feature a spectacular boardwalk overlooking the World Heritage rainforest. It will provide flexible spaces to be used for a variety of events and be a major drawcard for the North Coast.

A new treetop skywalk with an upper and lower deck will cater for all weather conditions. Spiralling walkways will take visitors down into the rainforest and connect with the existing 6-kilometre Wonga Walk and the new Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk.

The visitor centre will offer a place for people to learn and connect with the culture of the traditional custodians, the Gumbaynggirr people, and a new way to experience the ancient plants and animals from which life on Earth evolved.

Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk

The proposed Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk traverses Dorrigo and Bindarri national parks along the rugged escarpment, past teeming waterfalls, giant old-growth trees and over wild rivers as it heads down towards the coast. It will include 3 suspension bridges and 46 kilometres of walking track. Half of this follows existing tracks and trails.

To offer enhanced access and affordability, accommodation will include 4 purpose-built, low impact communal hikers’ huts and camping areas with tent platforms and composting toilets.

Next steps

  • Project team to be established by December 2022.
  • Continue preparing the draft plan of management for Dorrigo and Bindarri national parks.
  • Continue preparing draft master plans for Dorrigo Arc Rainforest Centre and Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk.
  • Finalise tenders for preliminary environmental assessments.
  • Ongoing consultation with key stakeholders and interested community groups.

The prposal so far appears to be taking a low impact approach with no commercially operated huts or lodges within the park. So, watch this space and subscribe for updates via the link below.

Image: Artistic rendition of the draft concept for the proposed new Dorrigo Arc Rainforest Centre
Credit: DPE