WOOLGOOLGAOFFROAD.....about me

I started Woolgoolga offroad back in the early nineties, after moving north of Coffs Harbour. Not only do love medium to hard days, l also love getting out and exploring our wonderful north coast with it's array of rainforest, long stretching beachs 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. 

The idea of my blog is to highlight the travels where I go and what is happening in my 4wd and camping world.

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.

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
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









GLENREAGH TUNNELS

Get asked a lot about the Glenreagh Mountain rail tunnels. While the tunnels are a fantastic explore- I think its all about the adventure getting there 

Turn it up and check it out !!!!






GUNDABOOKA

For many trips I’ve always bypassed places like Bourke, just to get off the tar and to keep heading west. But the phrase “the back of Bourke” got me thinking about this area. Bourke, located 800 km north west of Sydney has a long tradition with white man history dating back to the early 1800s, although the traditional owners of this land ( the Ngemba and Paakandji people ) have called this place home for hundreds of years. Charles Sturt was the first white man to pass through the area in 1828, but it wasn't until explorer and surveyor Thomas Mitchell who began the first settlement on the banks of the Darling River. The river was used as a transport system for various types of freight and soon began to boom. A picturesque town where you can visit galleries, exhibition centres or even cruise the Darling River on a traditional steamboat is a great eyeopener but we were interested in more. 


50 km south of Bourke, Gundabooka National Park covers 64,000 hectares and is a hidden gem that is worth spending a few days exploring or even a simple day trip from Bourke. There are two ways of getting to Gundabooka, either off Kidman Way ( Bourke to Cobar Road ) or along the Bourke to Louth Road which runs beside the Darling River. 

We decided to head down the Kidman Way to the parks well sign posted entry. As soon as you cross into the park, it felt like the real outback with the typical red outback roads, stunning white gums towering over the mulga bush. Just inside the park, a turn off information bay provides all relevant information on what to see and do, where to camp, dangers and map information. It is suggested here that you do drop your tyre pressures as the road in has long stretches of sand and a few rocky sections. 

Our designated camp for several nights was Dry Tank camp ground, located 20 km deep within Gundabooka. It’s not the only camp within the park as Yanda campground is located across the other side beside the Darling River, but we wanted to be in the heart of Gundabooka. Wasn't long before we found the turn into Dry Tank and were pleasantly surprised with the layout. Parking for day-trippers and those wanting to start here for the walking trails, private areas for camper trailers and tents hidden in the mulga, a large open area for group camping with several picnic tables with a nearby toilet. 




Apart from Dry Tank campground being a great place to settle, it’s also the start of several walking trails. The most popular one is Little Mountain Walking Track. This 5 km trail meanders through thick Mulga and outback Grevillea plants that if your lucky they may have a little colour on them. We were lucky enough to see large mounds that are home to the Mulga Ant. These large black ants are Omnivores which eat any dead matter. Life is tough out here. 



Wandering along the trail we noticed a rise in the surrounding landscape which gave us glimpses of Mount Gundabooka in the distance. At the end of the designated walk there is a great viewing platform allowing for uninterrupted views across the plain towards the mountain, and surprisingly we could get phone reception. Mount Gundabooka rises 500 metres above sea level and has been formed from millions of years of constant weathering from the winds and rain. For those keen, an informal trail leads you to the base of the mountain, but you need to be well prepared and experienced for this hike. 

We were hoping to explore the Mulgowan or Yappa Aboriginal rock art and walking trail which starts near the turn into Dry Tank. Unfortunately on the days that we were there NPWS were conducting pest control so the walk was closed. Fires are permitted within the park so you need to bring your own timber. It’s a great place sitting beside the fire in Gundabooka as the Mulga scrub seems to go quiet and has a relaxed feel to it. The stars are as bright as some city lights and it makes for a great ambience. 



Our next mission was to head up the road to the Bennett’s Gorge area. A 10 km drive heading west from camp soon saw us turning left into Corella Tank Road. With a 2 km drive in towards the looming base of Mount Gundabooka the views towards the plateau is nothing short of spectacular. While NPWS class Bennett’s as just a picnic area there is plenty of room to setup here for several days to explore this area of the park. Plenty of shade, toilets, amazing views and a little phone reception it’s a near perfect spot. From the car park starts the Valley of the Eagles walk. This is an easy 1 km stroll to the base of the mountain where you can sit and take in the amazing views of Mount Gundabooka. Detailed information boards explain the history of the area, point out gorges and highlights on the mountain and explain how the resident Eagles use the warm air currents to glide around looking for prey. The walk takes around 30 minutes but we spent 2 hours here just admiring the views of the surrounding landscape. I like Gundabooka. Heading out the other side its the same sandy then rocky stretches of road and its not long before you hit the Bourke Louth Road. 






WUNGLEBUNG

I could start this by saying, “Far far away, or maybe, up in thar hills there is some great camping - but I won’t, because camping at Wunglebung is by appointment only and when the owners Katrina and Stu meet you at their ‘office’ you can see why they keep it so private. 

It’s not often that you enter a property’s driveway across a river but once you cross to the other side it’s a beautiful place. Campsites are limited along the Timbara River to keep the place private, clean and manageable.

After your shown to your exclusive camp the rest is up to you wether you want to relax, kayak ( that are supplied ) or explore the hills. Kat is happy to give you a rundown on the history of the station, advice on the drive up the valley or heads up on the 4wd tracks in the hills. This 2000 acre working cattle station has a serene feel to it and that’s the way they want it kept. There’s no hooning, no mad scrabbling off-roading, shooting, motorbikes or quads- it’s a peaceful place. 

It’s a bit hard to relax when you can swim, kayak or go platypus stalking, then there’s wandering around the old yards, relics and remains of the original homestead. Wunglebung is a photographers paradise. The kids will love the unique showers in horse floats and the tin dunny’s on the property. The kids can take their bikes and go crazy - BUT there’s no fishing as the Platypus and Eastern Cod are protected and stock levels are increasing which means Wunglebung is a safe and healthy haven for them. 

4wd exploring is possible up the valley towards Washpool NP. Easy station roads that leads you for an hour up into the gorge country and crossing the upper reaches of the Timbarra River into more timbered areas and then eventually to a gate where the Bi-centennial trail continues south. If your keen for a little more Kat or Stu can point you into the hills where you can tackle Billyrimba Trail in the nearby NP. Billyrimba is suited to high clearance 4wds as it twists and winds its way to nearly 700 meters asl. Midway along there are a handful of mines and some mining gear from the bygone days and the views from here are to die for. Looking across to the far plateaus, down into the valleys trying to work out what and where things are- it’s pretty spectacular. 

It’s hard to jot down the great things or experience that come from Wunglebung. For us it started with the drive when we left Tenterfield, the magic of the place to even now wanting to go back for more. There’s no phone reception, plenty of peaceful spots, has a billion star rating and very very affordable. If Wunglebung was looking for shareholders I know I would be one. 


The only way I can end this is by saying  - We will be back !!











WINTER CAMPING

I know a lot of my friends hibernate in winter but not me - for it’s the perfect time to go camping and if you think about it may work for you too. There’s rewards waiting when the temperature drops and it also has benefits for your mind and body. Don't be deterred when the temperature drops towards the zero mark, get out there, explore and be a winter camper. 



1…There’s less people. It sounds silly but most of my friends ( and probably yours ) take their annual leave around summer, battle with the heat, the crowds and then there’s the exorbitant cost of summer destinations. But just think, head away in winter to campgrounds with less if any people, you’ll have first dibs on showers, bbqs and the communal toilets wont be overflowing. 

2… Campfires. I mean who has a blazing fire in summer ?. At least in winter you can rug up and as you feel the cool winter air settle in for the night maybe just shuffle your camp chair little closer to the fire, and with the right clothing you’ll be as snug as a bug toasting marshmallows on a stick. A little tip here, go to bed warm and you’ll be toasty all night. Simple things like wear sox and a beanie to bed or sneak a hot water bottle into your sleeping bag.

3… It’s good for the senses.  With cool days and cooler nights nature tends to smell and look better in winter. Wildflowers stand out against dry gums, water in streams and rivers tends to be clearer and there’s less pollution in the air which means you can see better from high vantage points. Use winter to your advantage.


4… A chance to get new gear. It’s nice having the right gear to go away and to be comfy so this is the perfect chance to upgrade. Don't skimp on quality, ask your friends what they recommend, pickup a dedicated camping magazine, check out your local camping store or even head to the net where you’ll find a host of camping blog sites. 







KWIAMBAL NP. NSW

Ever heard of Kwiambal NP ? well it’s 90 km North of Inverell ( via Ashford, northern NSW ) and it’s ruggered, remote yet holds cultural and historic heritage.



Camp options are an easy and scenic 8km drive further along Limestone Caves Road and left into Falls Road. Roads out here are pretty easy to drive with a good base, plenty to see with a few shambled houses and yards along the way for photo opportunities. It’s harsh country out here but the spectacle of seeing a few farms that still work the land had us guessing and just how isolated and remote the area was. Most of the vegetation is dominated by the Cypress Pine, estimates say that Kwiambal contains 15% of the dry rainforest left in NSW.

Most people head to Lemon Tree Flat campground where you can camp without fuss down beside the Severn River. There’s no booking sites and with around 10 acres of camping a lot of other campers can fit in so don't expect a sleep in during holiday or peak time. If this is your thing it’s a great base where there are NPWS walking tracks up the river to the junction of the Macintyre and Severn and with water holes along the way it’s a pretty cool way to spend a few hours exploring. Maybe head down on the Dungeon walk especially after heavy rain where the river water churns around the ancient rocks causing all sorts of noise and swirling action. From camp it’s a 1.5km walk but well worth it. With a pay station, pit toilets, bbqs and a few tables - Lemon Tree campgrounds may appeal to some. 



We got heads up of a brand new camp site just 4 km away called Kookabitta Camping area. Still located on the Severn River, Kookabitta is more for walk in campers with tents or swags but also has 6 bollarded sites for camper trailers. This is becoming pretty typical in National Parks, but the great thing here is that with only a limited number of trailer sites, it’s deadset peaceful and has all new glam features like gas bbqs, clean toilets, fire pits with their own table and chairs, great river access and did I mention it’s quiet ?. You can kayak up and down the river in tranquil pools where Kingfishers sit quietly in the river gums watching you go past, Wallabies and Kangaroo’s stand up with twitching ears and the ever noisy Corella’s and Galah’s can spoil the serenity as they echo down the valley. At either camp just be wary of wearing those holiday thongs that we all seem to wear, this is shoe country as we found out the first 5 minutes of stopping. The Kwiambal Thorn !!. Bloody sharp, needle like thorns. They sting like a hypodermic needle and leaves you in pain for an hour. 



Another attraction in Kwiambal is Macintyre Falls and the surrounding walks. From either camp it’s a 5 min drive to the end of Falls Road where you'll find a selection of information boards, bbq shelters and two viewing platforms to the massive granite gorges below with sign posted walks. A popular walk after looking down to the falls is to Macintyre Falls itself down the 600 metre trail that winds its way to  the bottom, and it’s not till you get down here that you can see and feel the scale of the gorge when you look back up. Can only imagine during peak wet times when Macintyre Falls flows with rage into the pool below what a sight it would be. The massive granite boulder seem to have scars on them from being smashed and pummelled from other rocks as they get pushed and shoved down stream. 


The second viewing platform faces more downstream where you get a good sense of just how ruggered the area is. If your fit you can tackle the track down to The Beach and to Slippery Rock. This walking track is hard and rough where there are short steep sections down to the river below, but it’s worth the effort for the magnitude of the gorge and just what water can do over millions of years. Making the effort in the warmer months can be rewarded with secluded swims in many of the water holes and by sitting under the cascades. It’s pretty special down in the base of the river, clambering over sheets of granite not knowing what’s around the next corner or over the next rock. Even the rock formations seemed to look down at you in a peculiar way, or maybe it was just the heat that was getting to us. We lost count of the birds, fish, turtles, wallabies we saw and just maybe a platypus on a quiet morning at camp. Kwiambal is an isolated park with minimal facilities but for the more adventurous it’s pretty darn good. 





TRIP PLANNING

It makes me wonder sometimes just how organised some campers( if you can call em that) are when they go away. You can always tell who they are by sitting back at camp and watching them setup. Bits and pieces go everywhere, parts missing, arguments and sometimes thing just don't work. I know we all have to start somewhere but it's not that hard to get it right. It's as easy as having a camping checklist. I spend weeks and even months planning, doing day to day lists, where to get fuel, extra phone numbers, double checking everything, what is available at camps like showers, toilets and the such - can never go wrong with too many lists. 

1. Do your research
When planning where to stay ask yourself the following questions. How long will it take to get there. Are all the roads open. What facilities are provided. Do you need to book. If not, will there be any vacant spots left if you arrive late. What is there to do nearby. Is the environment suitable for your kids if you take them. 

2. What to buy
If your camping with kids a portable toilet is a lifesaver during the night. Equipping the kids with their own head torch is a great idea-will make them a little independent, they can see where they are going, and you'll be able to spot them in the dark around the camp. Some even say a whistle and just when to use it maybe a good idea too.

3. Safety
Take a well stocked first aid kit with band aids, bandages, antiseptic and medicines like paracetamol, cough mix and maybe an antihistamine. On longer trips consider some basic antibiotics, thermals if cold, beanies for those cool nights, bed socks and an extra doona. And don't forget there are some great free phone apps available these days if you cant afford a Sat phone or the like. 

4. Food and equipment
Write down every ingredient and do your shopping according to this list. Pack an extra days worth of long life meals, just in case you get stuck at camp or if other food goes off. Make sure your food is in water/dust proof containers and keep all your food locked away. Wildlife has a way of smelling and sourcing your food out- trust me. 

5. Make a checklist
This is probably the most important on. Even after all these years I still do it as always add and take stuff off the list. Just remember too that all camp trips are different, outback touring, beach camping, alpine camps etc. Make sure nothing gets left behind by keeping a checklist too. Jump online as there are many checklists free on the web to down load, you just need to modify the list to your needs.









ASHFORD CAVES KWIAMBAL NP

Chatting to some locals in Ashford ( northern NSW ) they told us about some Limestone Caves that have been a real draw card to the area for years and we should make the effort to stop. 

Finding the Caves was pretty easy as they are just inside the Kwiambal’s boundary sign. It’s a short 300 metre walk to the cave entrance and a day picnic area where you'll find toilets, day shelters a few tables and plenty of open paddock area where the kids can let of steam. Just near the cave entrance there is plenty of reading available like how Allan Cunningham passed through in 1827 heading north, explains the history of the caves where it has been a tourist attraction for over 100 years, mining of the bat poo ( aka Gauno ) for fertiliser and there was that much Gauno that a small rail track and trolleys were used to cart it out until it all ended in 1959. Limestone is generally a ‘soft’ rock, and because of this fossils were found in and around the caves thus allowing for prehistoric dating. Bones were found from ancestors of the Thylacine, Kangaroo and a Pigmy possum dating back to the Pleistocene Age which is 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago. 


Even before entering the caves you can see fossils that look like big worms that have grooved out lines in the rocks. This is called Rillenkarren where acid rainwater has run down the hard rocks creating little drains or worm like channels. We were expect a 5 minute walk into a cave then out again, but this is far from what anyone could of told us. With good torches we spent nearly 3 hours freely exploring the cave system. There are rooms as big as bus’s, ever forming Stalactites, Stalemites and white crystals, pathways leading to more rooms, little cubby holes and if you stop and listen - you can hear the little bats that were hiding away in the darkness. It’s estimated that there is nearly 2km of cave system that you can freely explore and another 3km where you need specialised gear to belly crawl into different chambers. But for the average punter spending an hour walking around in these magnificent caves is just something else. Just need to be a little cautious thou, there are no walking markers inside the caves so you need to remember where you are and it’s pretty bloody dark and a good torch is needed to enjoy the whole experience.