Crowdy Bay and Swans Crossing

Before heading off from Rocks Crossing Reserve we reviewed again where we were heading and both couldn’t resist the pull of the coast so headed to Crowdy Bay NP.

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Rocks Crossing Reserve

We travelled via Taree where we stopped and watched some motor boat racing then via Coopernook State Forest where we checked out the free camp area which being only about 10 minutes easy drive through the forest will be a place to come back to. Then it was across the Pacific Highway to Crowdy Bay NP.

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Taree has a beautiful clean river

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Coopernook State Forest

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Perfect site at Diamond Head

We checked out the first campsite after being shaken up by the roughest roads yet, totally corrugated even though, we found out later, that they had been graded on October, and found that we needed to register and pay at Diamond Head camp a few kilometres north. Headed up to Diamond Head and as this was right on the beach decided to stay there, yes we had to pay $23 I guess not too bad for the amazing location and we had a nice private corner spot. 

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We totally enjoyed our beach break watching the ocean and doing the 4.8km headland loop walk with some awesome views and perfect to do late afternoon as it became cooler, even saw a skinny brown snake – after I stepped over it. We also did a long walk up to the other end of the beach to Dunbogan somewhat longer than we thought about 10km each way we think. Certainly gave our soles a work out but a lovely walk with mainly hard sand so easy going. We were entertained by 4 microlights and horses on the way back. After a quick lunch & relaxing swim it was time to head inland passing through the town of Laurieton – must come back here to explore later.

We drove through Kendall and took the turn off for Swans Crossing after about 15km of gravel road we found the lovely creek crossing and turning right just before this a large grassy free camp area. Such a surprise in this old forest, plenty of spaces left for us and also a few toilets, water and even rubbish skips. Less than 10 staying here, most for a few days but a couple of longer stayers. We met a lovely couple from the mid north coast, John & Sonia who were staying a few more days. It was nice to sit round the campfire on our last night before heading off to catch up with Tracey at Crescent Head.

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Swans Crossing

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Our last night camping ah perfect

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The track being cleared before our eyes

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Great spot to stop at Tracey’s

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Exploring Gloucester and Beyond

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Some Funghi at Barrington Tops

 

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Loved the different colours here

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Yes we were careful

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Wonder how long this bench has been by the Barrington Tops Swamp

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Our Lunchtime stop

After leaving Copeland we headed into Gloucester for a wander round the markets then the township, very friendly place particularly the information centre which is at the front of the library, we could use the Internet here so handy to catch up with the real world.  We had spent some time perusing our options of where to stay and thought we’d head north to Rocks Crossing Reserve. Heading this way some very beautiful rolling hills with lush farmland fringed with forested hills, we were following the train tracks for much of the way and were surprised to actually see a passenger train heading north.

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Copeland Reserve

Although we’d stopped outside of Gloucester to have morning tea, not something we’d normally do but we did have to try the lamingtons we’d bought at the markets we also stopped for an early lunch at a huge rocky river bed. Fun to sit and watch the large fish jumping and appreciating the fresh wholemeal bread from the bakery.

8 View South on Gloucester Bridge

North from Gloucester bridge

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Views back to Gloucester

7 View North on Gloucester Bridge

South off Gloucester Bridge

After a short section of gravel road we arrived at Rocks Crossing with just one other motorhome, Errol & Janice, already there. Surprised that their generator was running as it wasn’t so hot to need the air conditioning on but as we found out later Janice has Parkinson’s so that explained things, a friendly couple who had some good free travel tips. It was a short walk down to the fast moving creek but that was the only walk except for along the road. We did try our hand at fly fishing with an improvised line fun but of course no luck. Far more traffic passing by than we expected, even some logging trucks, mainly guys in utes with swags and hunting dogs. A couple of other people did stop here overnight arriving late and leaving early but this was Saturday night so think during the week would be much quieter.

9 Rocks Crossing on Nowendoc River

Nowendec Rver

10 Where we fished at Rocks Crossing

Where we tried our hand at fly fishing (sic)

From Woolomin Reserve to Copeland via Barrington Tops

After a peaceful night we headed back through Nundel this time going the west side of the Chaffey Dam (this is currently being enlarged to cope with the increased demand from Tamworth) and a short stretch of Fossickers way. We then headed through some lovely country on good gravel roads to Barrington Tops. Up at about 1200 meters I suddenly got phone reception so took the chance and did some banking and caught up with messages from work – ha can’t get away from the real life for long. 

1 We thought of Austin when seeing this rig

This one is for Austin

2 Great reception at 900 meters

Reception again quick answer messages

3 Not as many people here are used to be

Not so populated as it used to be heading towards Barrington Tops

By the time we got into the park the rain clouds had come down to set the misty atmosphere we looked at camping at Mann River but it had been loved to death so moved on to Dilgry River, a lovely little spot right next to the fast running but tiny river that should have been called a creek. Lots of lovely little fantails to watch as well as a couple of Kookaburra of course. We went for a bit of a walk up the road and saw a few of the rugged looking wallabies and lots of rabbits, it was raining quite heavily by this time so a good night to play cards and drink red wine. In the morning we did the Dilgry Creek loop road and saw some lovely small waterways, a wild dog then a wild cat and even some crazy brush turkeys who still do the ” bitumen bolt” even though the road was gravel.

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Can you see the Robin?

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The stream attracted plenty of birds

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I like the time out to just find shots like this

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Our Peaceful Barrington Tops Campsite

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Soooo many old logs

It wasn’t until we were on the main road that we saw any other vehicles so a quiet spot midweek this time of the year. We did a few walks each different from the other – a very old bush walk where the ground was very damp and soft under foot amazing bird songs and lots of old trees and moss, then a couple of short walks out to look at distant views and finally the longest walk of 3km round a large swamp area – interestingly here there were notices to be wary of wild horses and we saw lots of signs that they were around but no sightings. Much like the wombats we’ve seen lots of their scat and holes but only dead ones.

The weather had slowly improved and we’d not had any rain but decided to leave the 1500 meter cooler altitude and head east again stopping at the Copeland Reserve having the place to ourselves, this has certainly been the norm for this holiday.

Moving on from Mummel Gulf NP

I was a day overdue from getting my stitches out (a result of having a small op before leaving Brisbane) so we headed through the forest to Walcha and stopped at the public hospital before wandering around the town and stocking up on groceries. Then it was time to check out the waterfalls back down the Oxley Highway, firstly Apsley Falls where again we were caught in a thunder storm but continued our walk viewing the gorge etc Then it was off to our site for the night at Tia Falls 7km off the highway it was a much nicer remote camp area than Apsley and we had the place to ourselves. We did the short walk to view one side of the gorge in the evening and yes you guessed it another thunder storm. It did drizzle on and off all night but stopped long enough for us to cook our yummy pork spare ribs from the Walcha butcher on the fire plate BBQ.

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Tia Falls

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An evening walk

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The light just seemed to be perfect

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Had to catch the moment

We did the 5km walk round the far side of the gorge in the morning, what a lovely relaxing walk with the skies clearing and the mists raising from the gorge. Unfortunately no platypus sighted in the creek although we did see the occasional bushy tail rock wallaby bounding (although I think I should say thumping as these guys are very noisy when they jump) away, lots of Crimson Rosella’s, Tree Creepers, Fan Tails etc

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Tia Gorge

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Ribs on The Barbie

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The Raising Cloud

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No Platypus here

After an early lunch we were heading across to the other side of the highway through the rolling hills of large farms with cattle and sheep aplenty. We cut across Mummel Gulf NP again out on to Thunderbolt Way for a short distance before going back onto gravel and through Nundel SF. Huge Ponderosa Pine Plantations here and a large camping area where the old sawmill was – too many flies to make it a good place to stop. Next stop was Sheba Dam but again we decided this wasn’t a place to camp for us. We did the short drive up Hanging Rock Lookout very windy but awesome views, also checked out the old cemetery and learnt the history of this old ,mining town and that the Ashton Circus had very close connections to the area. 

9a Logging truck near Mummel NP

Logging Truck Near Mummel NP

9b Wrecks at Ponderosa Sawmill

2 Old Wrecks

9c Why we didn't stay at Ponderosa

Why we didn’t stay at Ponderosa

Drove south to Nundel, quirky little town, and checked out the free camping along the river – we were being fussy as I think we had been spoilt so far on this holiday and it took us to Woolomin before we were satisfied. Great free camping near the creek and a small town, just a general store and the rural fire brigade who entertained us with their training night. A few people stopped here but the place is so big no ones space is invaded.

Plateau Beech & New Country Swamp Campgrounds

Back up to the main track having engaged 4WD before leaving camp we continued upwards reaching just over 1100meters and into the clouds on Hastings Forest Way, the road was fine and plenty of clearance for us. We found Brushy Mountain Campground (one out of the camping book) which is a wide open area with a couple of walking tracks. One other group camping here taking advantage of the large shed to dry their swags and have a big fire also a good place to keep the motorbikes dry. Rain gets heavier so a good lazy afternoon.

We ended up not staying at the Brushy campground as the guys on motorbikes were annoying revving up and down the track, we moved on up the trail to Plateau Beech Camp area which was a wide open hilly space with a large shed complete with 4 tables and 2 huge fireplaces. The rain stopped long enough for us to go for a lovely walk down to the falls and cascades both agreeing that this was one of the most beautiful walks we’d done with the wet ferns and golden leaves on the track just enhancing the walk. There are plenty leeches here and I even picked up one with orange stripes instead of the normal black one. It was a cooler night so we enjoyed using the shed and the dry firewood having the place to ourselves. And guess what even more fireflies here than the previous night we couldn’t help but talk about how Darcy would love this camping but it would be hard to explain that there weren’t fairies at the bottom of the garden.

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Brushy Campground

1a Such atmosphere

Awesome atmosphere

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Beech Plateau Campground

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Things grow well in the damp

3a Some planting done at Plateau Beech

Not sure if these flowers belong here

We drove back up the track again with 4wd fully engaged back eventually on to Forbes River Road. The drive took us a few hours having to stop regularly to hold back overhanging branches and vines as well as chopping some branches off fallen logs coming onto the track. Thank goodness we’d picked up that axe. We even had to get out the snatch straps at one point to hall a larger log out of the way – ah we were in our element both agreeing that this was lots of fun and fully the reason that we’d wanted a vehicle to enable us to get out and travel like this.

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Fantastic Walk

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So many pretty ferns

6a amazing what you see

They go well together don’t they?

All too soon we were back on the black tar of the Oxley Highway and heading toward Walcha, we’d come out of the misty drizzle but very soon were hit by a couple of brief thunder storms however these vanished as soon as we’d passed over the range. Our next stop is at New Country Swamp Campground just on the edge of Mummel Gulf NP and Enfield State Forest. Another couple of campers here so nice to chat by the campfire as we cook outdoors. Only one short walk here but walking different directions along the road was also nice. The weather appeared to settle and the other campers left so we decided to stay an extra night and just enjoy the peace ah nothing like a hammock for a midday snooze – no Cherie you didn’t wake me up when you rang Smiling face with smiling eyes.

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Old Country Swamp

7a a stroll from camp

A Stroll away from Camp

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Another dinner outdoors

Sawtell and Family time then the Bush

We headed back up to Armidale, beautiful old city with many grand old buildings, then on to the Waterfall Way an interesting road with many national and state forests that are just crying out to be explored but this will need to wait for another day. We did make one stop at Ebor to view the two large waterfalls which were flowing well even though there hadn’t been much rain. We decided at least a week would be required to explore this area both Dorrigo and Bellingen look interesting and the river was beautiful all the way down to the Pacific Highway. 

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Ebor Falls

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We’ve seen so many daisy’s when driving

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Not a bad spot to camp at Sawtell

Tracey & Stu had the ideal family holiday home for the week at Sawtell plenty of room for the children to ride their bikes and just a short walk to beaches, shops etc. It was good also to catch up with their in laws from the UK John & Linda who we’d not seen for about 12 years. After 2 enjoyable nights with them it was time to get back on the road to continue our travels.

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A Quiet Papa moment

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Early Christmas Present was a hit

6a She even has the pointed toe

Look Darcy even has the toe point

6b Super family shot

Lovely Family Pic

6c Sawtell Lookout

Worth the drive to the Lookout at Sawtell

A quick stop at Kempsey to borrow important things that we’d not thought to pack such as a shovel and axe we headed south then turned off the highway at Telegraph Point – this wasn’t quite the route we’d planned from the free camping book but looking at the map from the info centre I could see that we could have a more interesting drive and end up in the same place. Well it was interesting following windy and in some places steep tracks being not too sure of the exact route to take. Unfortunately we did have a mishap with a large springy branch from a dead tree on the side of the track so were more careful after that. We have to remember just how tall and wide we are now!!! No more problems, but it was just as well that we had the axe as this was put to good use. We discovered the perfect stop for the night with a warm stream to enjoy a dip in after the temperature hitting 39 degrees. No one else here, it appeared to be a fairly new camping area complete with new toilets – a great find 31.24331S 152.52621E

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Our First Real Bush Campsite

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Our Damage

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Private Swimming Hole

9a a cool reflection

A Reflective Morning Shot

Temperature dropped overnight and we woke to a cool morning with very light drizzle. Nice to laze in bed reading with the duvet on before a late start following the tracks down on to Hastings Forest Way where we had some lovely views outwards and down into the valleys. We turned off to Wilson’s River Picnic Area and followed the track down just a few branches to hold out of the way as we went. A nice little spot by the wooden bridge built in 1962 and another perfect spot for the night. There were a couple of signed walks here and toilets but doesn’t look like there are many visitors. Did the walk to the waterfall which was rather lovely and then relaxed watching and listening to the many birds the only vehicles to go by were after we’d gone to bed about 11pm so not sure if perhaps they were lost. It continued to drizzle most of the night but oh so easy to sleep with pitter patter on our roof. Special here was fireflies we’d seen them before and even occasionally had them at home but here there were lots to watch down by the river.

9b Some narrow tracks

Some narrow tracks but Rob woud love this as a driveway

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Looking for the track on the other side

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Small but pretty waterfall

14 So many wet ferns

Fantastic Ferns in the wet

Pindari Dam to Uralla Fossicking Area

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Uralla Fossicking Area

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Kings Plains NP

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Good place to look for wildlife

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After the Storm

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Just a moment at Uralla

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Ice Cream time

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During the Storm

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Before the storm at Kings Plain NP

We had a lovely drive keeping mainly to the back roads except when we swung by Inverell for a quick visit to Bunnings. The scenery was lovely lots of farms with crops,cattle and/or sheep. Driving to the NP the road was very corrugated making for quite a bumpy trip great to have the stratos suspension seats, Rob later checked the front tyre pressure and dropped them down by about 25 PSI giving us a much softer ride as we left. There are 2 camping areas at Kings Plain NP one with grass and a toilet for walk in camping then the other  which had room for us to park, we were the only ones at our area and just 1 couple tenting at the other. We did the walk between the 2 sites and up to the tiny falls listening to thunder which was getting closer and closer only just making it back to camp as the storm hit complete with hail and gusty winds, it came and went for about an hour and although we couldn’t have the fire we’d planned we could still enjoy a glass of wine outdoors. It was a cool night and we even put on jackets in the morning while having breakfast by the river and watching the many different types of birds.

Then it was off to our next free camp at Dumaresq Dam however on arrival we discovered there is currently no camping permitted due to problems with the septic tank. This wasn’t the only problem here as apparently the dam wall has a crack in it and there are local issues about having it fixed – channel 7 was here to film a local news item for the folk in Armidale.

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The Beautiful Dumaresq Dam

Back to our camping book and we found that less than 20 km away there was another free fossicking camp area at Uralla situated beside a creek which suits us perfectly, a few others staying here but very quiet. This is still big boulder country and we even passed Stonehenge this morning just south of Glen Innes. While sitting watching the water dragons, lizards and many birds I talked to a guy fishing for red fins and watched his casting expertise. In the morning I filled a jar for Darcy with some sand & water from the river, there was plenty of fools gold and tin flecks floating making it an interesting jar for a 4 year old. Rob also spoke to some fossickers who showed him $3000 worth of gold both nuggets & flakes that had come from this area – just a small vial and apparently quite heavy.