Jun 17, 2021

WOOLGOOLGAOFFROAD

Gidday all, 

I started Woolgoolga offroad back in the early nineties, after moving north of Coffs Harbour. Not only do I love bloody hard Offroad days, l also love getting out and exploring our wonderful north coast with it's array of rainforest, long stretching beaches and our awesome views. Several times a year we venture afar for camping trips, and depending on our work schedules it determines on how far we go.

The best feature we have, here at Coffs Harbour, is that it is the closest spot on the east coast where the great dividing range meets the pacific ocean. So this means, we lock our hubs in when we turn off the highway, cant get better than that !

Over the last few years i have been lucky enough to have competed in various competitons, with various degrees of success. Travelled extensively in and around the north coast, west to the Olgas, The Flinders, Ayres Rock, Kings Canyon around the simpson desert and to the centre of Austraila.We have traversed through and around several deserts that include- The Simpson, Strezlecki, The Stony just to name a few. And of course I can't forget the people I have met, crossed paths with and the ones that have stayed lifelong friends - because without them it would not be the same. 😊

I always hear people from our generation saying "Ahh, living the dream" when they are doing something out of the ordinary - for example: sipping cocktails in a spa at a fancy resort or perhaps they post "living the dream" as the caption beneath a photo of them moving into their new $500,000+ mansion-esque home they have just mortgaged their life away for. At first I was confused by how simple my ambitions were. All I wanted was to live in a caravan and be able to spend as much time enjoying the outdoors.

So for me, this became my simple dream. I find myself having those "Ahh living the dream" moments when I am sitting in a natural hot spring, kicking back in the bush exploring tracks, looking at the desert sky all drinking a beer, or maybe ten feet away from a crocodile inhabited river. Now all I need to do is to work out which way I shall turn at the roundabout at the end of the street.

πŸ”»πŸ”»πŸ”»
😎😎  FOR MY LATEST FACEBOOK POSTS  πŸ˜ŽπŸ˜Ž  
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Another passion of mine is photography, l have a host of albums on my Facebook page so jump across to my page and browse my photo albums of places where I have been, explored and discovered. We are lucky enough to live here on the Coffs Coast, so there is always plenty of places to get out to take advantage of any weather conditions that may arise. I will also be writing about personal experiences and more.

Or another alternative is to take time and check out this online publication, great for those soft roaders  
http://issuu.com/coffscoast/docs/coffscoasttouringtrailsfinalissuu

Or keep an eye out for my articles in the following
https://coastbeat.com.au
http://coffscoast.focusmag.com.au
https://blog.campermate.com.au/outdorian-magazine/
https://blog.campermate.com.au/getaway-guides/
https://www.whichcar.com.au/4x4australia

And yes I know I post a lot of pics, but dont they say a picture tells a story ??
Anyone keen for a trip ?

Make sure you add me on Facebook and Instagram too !!!
https://www.facebook.com/woolgoolgaoffroad

https://www.instagram.com/woolgoolgaoffroad/

Kev
woopi4x4@bigpond.net.au




Apr 10, 2020

COOMA AND SURROUNDS

Cooma is often regarded as being at the centre of the world famous Snowy Hydro Scheme and the gateway to some of the best snow fields that Australia has to offer. But its actually jammed packed with history, so much to see and do with some great touring trails as well.

With a good 4 hour drive south of Sydney, Cooma is now a major regional centre and a great base to set off from to explore the surrounding area. The town means ‘big lake’ named by the local Aboriginal people and there’s definatly plenty of lakes around. 



Explored in the early 1800’s it was soon realised that this area was full of open areas and excellent for grazing. Commonly known as Monaro country its unique to the area which has rich Basalt soil and is regarded as the coldest region in Australia. Roll onto the turn of the century and the area saw growth and by 1850 plenty of substantial building were erected, and the town grew with miners, prospectors and families when gold was found nearby. The town emerged so fast that by 1847 a local court was setup, and by 1870 the Cooma jail was opened. 






Like many regional towns the best place for a heads up is the local tourist info centre and the Cooma centre is no different, they now their stuff for the whole region. Around town there’s a 5km heritage walk past significant and historical buildings, several stunning park areas, memorials and lookout areas. One of the main draw cards is the Snowy Hydro Discovery centre just on the outskirts of town where you can spend hours understanding this amazing feat that was created from 1949 which Cooma became the hub for the scheme, there are interactive displays, 3D models and much more giving back to the pioneers who made this marvel work. Also in town is the Cooma jail museum centre that gives you an insight to what really goes on behind bars with rooms full of memorabilia from jails all around Australia, actual items smuggled to within the centres, history and so much more, its easy to spend hours here. The guides inside are inmates who are on their last stint for release and are happy to show you around giving some great inside information, explain escape attempts, answer questions about life on the inside and show you where other inmates hand make items to sell in their own shop for extra money. Cooma jail was built from the rock where it sits today and is a low to medium centre, this is a must do if you're in town.



Now while you can get lost in the hub of Cooma with boutique coffee shops and local history, it's the outskirts where the real beauty lies through stunning landscape settings and great touring trails to the west. Being close to the Snowy Mountains one of the must do’s is to head out past Jindabyne to explore the stunning ranges in the Kosciuszko NP along the Alpine Way.


During winter this place is a haven for all types of winter actives but during summer the park is significantly different where you can brave the cool mountain rivers for a dip, walk to the top of Mount Kosciuszko, camp in designated bush camps and with your daily entry fee, it allows you to camp for 24 hours. Two areas are set aside just before Thredbo, The Diggings and Ngarigo are perfect to set up base camp for a few days to explore the area where they back onto the Thredbo River, plenty of scope to enjoy the walking and bike trails, be one with nature or just relax. Plenty of room for tents, swags or if your towing and the added bonus here are toilets and fires are allowed when there’s no ban on. For the series outdoorsy person its only a 10 minute drive up to Thredbo to hike up to the top of Australia highest and most specular mountain, Mount Kosciuszko. Its a full day taking the whole hike in, where you’ll have stunning views across the ranges, plenty of huge rock formations to view in awe and towards the top if the weather is right, Lake Cootapatamba can be seen which is the highest and freshest lake in Australia. Sitting in a bedrock of solid Granite this glacial lake freezes during winter and means ‘where the eagles swoop to drink’ by the local Aboriginals referring back to their dream time era. Aboriginals have used the mountain for nearly 20,000 years as a meeting place, tribes from the Riverina, Monaro Plains and coast used to gather here for ceremonies, lay spirits to rest and to feast on local delicacies. 





Leaving camp and heading back out of the park through Jindabyne head north up along the Eucumbene river where the tar soon turns too dirt. Out here there’s nothing too serious because these roads pass through working pastoral sheep and cattle stations. Cool mountain Alpine gums and grasses cover the landscape and where towering ranges like Strumbo and the Toolong range seem to follow you. The mountains along here tower over the paddocks shooting up to 2060 metres above the plains and crystal clear creeks run in between. 



The road lead to Lake Eucumbene and towards the historical old Adaminaby cemetery where back in 1863 an acre of land was granted miles away from town to stop the spread of any diseases that the deceased may of had when they were laid to rest. These were harsh times in a bloody harsh area during winter, where many suffered with a host of complications from the cold especially children and for the elderly heart attacks were often mis-diagnosed for ingestion. The old Adaminaby town was flooded as part of the setup for the snowy river scheme and luckily even after 150 years when the lake fills to capacity the lowest grave is still 5 metres above the water line. Yens Bay road loops around the edge of the Lake towards the old and present Adaminaby. 


If you're lucky and the Lake is down around the 30% mark visible signs of the old town can still be seen today where there are plenty of building foundations, grand concrete steps, water tanks and pieces of pipe sticking out of the ground. 

It was around 1837 when explorers Cosgrove and York claimed the area to run cattle and sheep but when gold was 20 years later a settlement was finally established and it became a convenient stopover for travellers between Cooma and the goldfields to the north. A butter factory, three pubs, several general stores, butcher shops and schools soon saw this town grow, Copper was also found nearby and the mill lasted up until 1913. But in 1956 the town was due to be flooded for the Snowy scheme so 102 buildings were moved to higher ground and several churches were meticulously dismantled and rebuilt. The Kosciuszko goldfields were discovered 40km NW off Adaminaby at Kiandra. Now a ghost town where only a few relics, chimneys and the cemetery still remain, this was a bustling town with nearly 10,000 people in the area. The rush was on to find gold, buildings were quickly erected and many of the miners endured harsh living conditions living in tents often only covered with Calico material. But it was short lived over only a few years and the population reduced drastically, yet during those two years they built a bank, installed a telephone service, shops and 2 courthouses ( one was for setting charges and the other was used for the lockup and police ) mostly made from locally sourced Granite in the area.. 




These days you can wander around the history trail reading the plaques, looking at what is left and gazing across the plains just trying to imagine how harsh it would have been back in the day. One story goes is that back in 1891 there were nearly 60 children attending the government funded school, which had cracks in the walls and only hessian covering the windows allowing snow and ice to be blown inside and to gather on the roof. More funding was sought for the school house so a water race was dug to the school for fresh water, but it undermined the foundations and soon became unusable. Or how the local store owner died after slipping in the shop and falling onto a knife that was poisoned. By 1900 most buildings had fallen into disrepair with only stonework and thick steel being left weathering away. Nearby at Chum Hill you can still see evidence of the mines, sluicing channels and dams dug by the Chinese plus old machinery. It was here in the river where a huge 9kg nugget was found. The gold fields here are often regarded as the highest in Australia at nearly 1410 metres above sea level. 



The Snowy region of NSW is jam packed of significant history and while it might not have adventurous offroad tracks, it should be on your list to explore during the warmer months. 





Mar 26, 2020

STRATHGORDON....Tassie

Tasmania is an amazing place, where around every corner there is something new to see or do. I decided to check out a double ached dam wall while in the area, but ended up spending a few days around the area. An over night stopover near the little village of Maydena in the heart of Tassie started this adventure where a local told me about the Gorgon Dam wall. But before heading out there an explore through the stunning Mount Field NP was on my cards. Mount Field was the very first national park declared in Tassie to protect its precious environment for the future. Only an hours drive from Hobart its a popular park throughout the year, as during summer the walks are a cool relief from the summer heat, yet in winter skiing is available at the peak of mount Field along several trails. 





The most popular spot to visit here is the short walk into Russell Falls which has been regarded as the most photographed waterfall in Tasmania due to its short 20 min walk and its constant water flow surrounded by huge tree ferns. The walk meanders through gorgeous tree fern lined paths, the tree stumps are moss lined and huge old growth timber towers over giving a canopy to the lower plant life. Russell Falls is an easy walk, but it's worth continuing on to the other spectacular highlights on the loop trail. Further along the marked walking trail Horseshoe Falls is another example of the parks beauty and it continues along to the Tall Timber area where some of the largest trees in Australia are growing and thankfully being protected from local logging practices. If you’ve come this far its worth the extra effort to follow the trail out to Lady Barron Falls which according to some locals that I got talking to thunders down here all year round. Looping around the easy trails, it leads you back down to the main centre of Mount Field. The area was discovered back in 1856 and now attracts tourists world wide with its natural beauty. Inside the centre NPWS have set up a curiosity room for both the kids and the curious where’d you can get an understanding of the forest, the animals that call it home and local history. The walk to the falls is listed as one of Tassies 60 great short walks. The local Eucalypt trees here are estimated to be 450 years old and some of the ones that can be viewed are 100 metres tall giving them the recognition for some of the largest living things in the world. 

Locally you can visit the Raspberry farms and when in season there is an array of jams, wines and festivals to showcase these tantalising sweet berries. It wasn’t open when I visited but also nearby Maydena has some of the best mountain bike tracks in all of Australia. Regarded as world class they have an amazing 60 individual down hill tracks for different skill levels to ride. From technical to free flowing rides down the mountain you’ll drop almost 1km back to the end of the trails.


Another local attraction and the only one in the state is the Maydena Railtrack ride where you pedal specially designed rail carts on the old narrow gauge tramway through different landscapes and past rail relics from years gone by. These are a great way to burn off a little energy and are kid friendly too. 


After a couple of hours here the drive out to the Gordon dam is nothing short of spectacular. No need to rush the 80 km drive to the dam as the road out takes you through a huge array of different landscapes and the scenery is nothing short of stunning in every direction. Starting off passing through huge pine plantations where logging is controlled but a necessity in our modern day life its fascinating watching the Goliath machines harvesting the pines. The last place to grab a coffee is Florentine that is known for its old growth forests and unique animals in the area and its reported here that back in 1929 the last known Tasmanian tigers were sadly hunted. 


Heading out further along the Gordon River Dam road the landscape clears to low heath and button grass plains that have been shaped by the winds that frequent this amazing area and the cold crisp winters. Glacial mountains line the road and cast huge shadows across the area and give awe inspiring views at nearly every turn along the road. The mountains shadow massive lakes out here that have are full year round from the moisture running down from the hills and from the winter snow and ice. If you’ve got a National parks pass, there’s some great camping along the way in their designated area right on the lakes which you can fish and boat in. I camped at Teds beach where the serenity has to be experienced with crystal clear nights where the silence was beautiful and morning sunrises across the glassy lake has to be seen to be believed. 


It's only a short drive to the dam from Teds Beach and from the moment when the dam comes into view, it has the wow factor. The stats don’t put this unique structure into perspective where its 200 long and 140 metres high but its actually the tallest dam on the apple isle. Its curved structure and no spillway gives it a special look and feel. Visitors can walk down the 600 odd steps and walk across the dams wall to experience an unusual sense where when you look down the dam wall it curves back under you. For the technical minded the dam is actually higher that the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the wall holds back a stack more water than in the Sydney basin area. Astonishingly the power station is 185 metres below the dam wall where if you can imagine a drain pipe feeds water from the base of the dam into the power station and operates several turbines that feed produces nearly 15% of Tassies power. 


I found the whole area awe inspiring and the drive out to the dam should be on everyones list when in the area, but not to be rushed with so much to see along the way. 






Mar 21, 2020

STANLEY....tassie

Surprises come in all shapes and form and it's often when we least expect it one rears its ugly head. Theres so much to see and do touring Tassie and on a little side excursion looking for a caffeine hit one public holiday l ended up stumbling on an amazing piece of Australia history. Along the north coast of Tassie, about 2 hours west of Devonport is Stanley, an absolutely beautiful and stunning cottage town snugged right on the coast. It's like something out of the UK, in fact the towns origin goes way back with a stack of pleasant and unpleasant English history where our own history actually begin. 
This is the original Van Diemens Land. Back in 1824 King George IV allowed Woolnorth ( company name ) to select 250,000 acres of land to begin a pastoral lease as there was a shortage of fine wool back in the UK. The new colony selected the land in the remote and then hospitable NW area of the state with the new settlement where Stanley is today. Over the next few years the new settlers explored the outer areas and soon began importing their fine Merino sheep across from the home-land, but in a disastrous blunder they never accounted for the atrocious conditions and they lost thousands in the cold winters and to the Tasmanian tiger ( before it became extinct ). 



Take a step back before 1824 and it is said that Matthew Flinders was the first one to sight the Nut at Stanley around 1798. The Nut is a huge round lump of Basalt formed when the volcanoes were common around the island. Jump to 1825 and a settlement was being established at the base of the nut allowing protection from the trade winds with a safe and deep harbour. Convicts were now being sent to Tasmania as punishment and in them there was a host of good tradesman and farmers who were put to use with trades building this new colony.  One of the first projects was to build a base, something like a Government House to oversee the expansion of this new colony and to have control over Van Diemens land and the convicts were put to good use building Highfield House. It was more like slave labour where the convicts worked for nothing and if they escaped and were recaptured they were severely punished. They even made their barracks that house about 70 convicts and remarkably some of that structure still stands today. 

Highland House and its wonderful array of outer buildings have been beautifully restored both inside and out with period and some original fittings. For a small fee anyone can spend time around the grounds, inside the main grand house where there is a story in every room and in the outer buildings like the chapel with school room upstairs, pig slaughter house, the remarkable stables and even in the main barn which was one of the earliest buildings built. Each room has detailed info on what went on and just gives you a little insight on personal life. Just remember that these stone and timber buildings were built around the 1830’s, so just imagine starting from scratch, every nail was hand made, every piece of timber hand cut and the land cleared by hand. 



They were tough times where the walls are thicker than a mans leg to combat the winds and the chill, they were instructed to make 12 rooms with ceilings nearly 4 metres high - a huge ask when you start and have nothing. Highland House overlooks the town on the western edge just 6km away. 



Another piece of amazing Aussie history began here too as back in 1919 Arthur Long was the first person to fly across Bass Strait from here at Stanley to Torquay in Victoria. His bi-plane was a little 90 hp RAF with a V8 engine and had a cruising speed of 137 kph taking just over 10 hours. When he landed he joking remarked that ‘he could never see a daily air service between Hobart and Melbourne’.



Stanley was originally called Circular Head but the name changed in 1842 after a Lord Stanley. Today the town is lined with stunnily beautiful restored cottages, but they weren’t always like this as most of them also date back to the mid 1800’s. There were bond stores, a bacon factory, general stores, captain cottages and of course churches. Today it's like a step back in time where these period cottages and shops line the streets, and in some cases only feet from the street. The town now loves the tourist trade where organic food galleries and cafes serve the most heart warming dishes, boutique hand made gift shops display amazing craft and restaurants serve up freshly caught sea food caught daily from here. Around town there is a heritage walk from the bay along the town strip down to the historical cemetery where early Tasmanian explores have been laid to rest dating back to 1850. In fact Hollywood thought the town was so perfect, they came here and shot parts of a movie called “The light between oceans” back in 2014.


The Nut is the most prominent feature in town where people come from far and wide to experience the exhilarating views from the top. Dont be fooled by its calming appearance as the first 500 metres is a heart busting slow walk up the top level. These days if you're not super keen to walk the slope - a chair lift has been installed to help out. Around the top an amazing 2km circular walk gives jaw dropping views in every direction. Lookout points and chairs allow you to take time out and soak up the area, or catch your breath, while taking on the walk. The Nut wasn’t always full of tall grasses as it was once the home to a forest of trees but were cut down for grazing land. Today the top is being regenerated with native trees and is home the migratory Mutton Bird. 




This area should be on everyone’s list when they come to Tassie, it's like a step back in time and being part of our early settler history its one place that demands respect. Its like the perfect town, everything has a place, the locals are beautiful and friendly with rubbish free streets and an amazing backdrop. On the good days you’d swear this was on the north coast of NSW with forever views, turquoise water in the bay and green pastures that go to the hinterland, and the bad days the wind rips through you like a knife. Just spare a though for the convicts and early settlers that called this place home 200 years ago.