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 

Or keep an eye out for my articles in the following

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 !!!




It's pretty apparent that there isn't much info online re the Coffs mines after I hid my posts, pics and maps and thats been for a couple of reasons. But to be honest it has taken nearly 20 years to find, explore and gather all the info I have. I have done my best to preserve, share and generally look after our heritage here on the Coffs coast. We are out most weekends finding old areas, cleaning scrup, clearing - generally the lantana as there seems to be no care factor with our history here in Coffs. We've found boilers, a stamper, loads of shovel heads, assorted metal, drill bits, tanks and more. It is a shame these things cant be located to out museum in town. Seems all they care about is our 'wonderful' jetty. But you know what, if it wasn't for our goldfields - places like the Orara Valley, Nana Glen, Coramba would not of flourished like they did. So much history in the Coffs hinterland but all being dismissed and forgotten. It would a total shame for our kids not to know exactly what when on.

If your after any info please don't hesitate to email, call or check out my FB or Instagram page.



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.


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.


Often I travel for days to find the perfect camping location but sometimes the best spots are right under my nose. I found Crowdy Bay National Park a few years a go and I’m a huge fan. Not because of insane 4wding or a mass of activities - but because of the peacefulness of the environment. At Crowdy itself you can explore the lighthouse on the headland or safely swim and fish in the bay, but my relaxation starts in the camping areas just away from the beaches. 

There are two camp areas, namely Crowdy Gap and Kylie’s - both having unique features. Crowdy is my pick where there are large grass areas, free bbq’s and an access track to the beach for a romantic evening beach stroll or an early morning fish. Just up the road at Kylie’s, the camp ground can get pretty busy in peak times but it does have drop toilets and there’s beach access for your 4wd.

A short stroll from the campground will lead you to Kylie's Hut. This timber slab hut was built in 1940 by a reclusive local, Ernie Metcalfe, for Kylie Tennant as a writing retreat. Kylie fell in love with the area and with the story that surrounded old Ernie. She wrote many books from this hut including one on Ernie called The Man On The headland. The hut has been restored by NPWS and there is walk in camping around the hut.


Getting to Culgoa from Brisbane is a bit of a zig zag along several highways and backroads but part of the adventure is getting there. Along the way a great little history stop can be found at Hebel close to the NSW QLD border and you'll realise that this area is full of history. There’s not much at Hebel anymore, there’s the typical country general store which operates as a shop, tourist information centre, post office and where you can get great coffee and homemade cakes, across the road there’s the quirky Hebel pub decorated with colourful graphics by a local artist, and a park nearby where you can spend an hour and to read the areas history along the Hebel historical circle. There is free camping here at Hebel, right on the towns city limits at Judd’s Lagoon, right on the banks of the Bokhara River complete with town water, flushing toilet and bbq shelters. From the free camp you can walk to town or walk along the river to where the old and new weir is that holds the water for the town. It’s a significant history spot near the Bokhara River too as back in 1846 Sir Major Thomas Mitchell passed by on his way north towards the Gulf from Sydney. 

Within the town of Hebel at the towns historical circle there are 10 tall timber post’s where you can read and get a feel for the town that once was and while you spend time pondering the history the kids can play in the playground just nearby. The post’s represent significant history  events starting when explorer Mitchell passed through the area and saw local Aboriginal habitation including small fires near huts, piles of harvested grass, scars on trees and well worn paths. When NSW and QLD separated in 1859, nearby Currawillinghi Station was home to the customs office and police station and with this came responsibilities for custom duties as apparently back in the day stealing sheep and cattle, smuggling booze and evading taxes were running rife. Inspectors were appointed nearby and in one year alone it was recorded at that taxes were paid on nearly 50,000 sheep entering QLD but only 12,000 leaving. At Currawillinghi’s peak in 1900 there were nearly 90,000 cheap shorn with hand shears on 60 stands.

A hotel was built for the passing Cobb and Co coaches to provide a stopping station for passengers on their way to the goldfields and hearing this bushrangers soon roamed the area. Hebel was known as Kelly’s point prior to 1889, as legend has it that Ned Kelly’s brother Dan and another gang member lived here after escaping from Glenrowan. But being a bushranger rumour the story may have it’s flaws. The origin of Hebel’s name is a bit of a mystery. Some say it came from a German settler yet others say the local Aboriginal meaning is ‘hot place’, so in 1899 it was declared Hebel by the nations government. If you need last minute bread, milk or fuel, Hebel is the most reliable as you head towards Culgoa and if your heading out the other side it’s a further 200-300km to another fuel stop. 

Leaving Hebel after a refreshing stop it’s here where you head off the bitumen onto un-sealed black-soil roads which sometimes can become impassable with a little rain. It’s 45km to Goodooga, a small town with only 300 people and no facilities. The landscape is barren, flat yet it’s part of an ancient landscape where 200 million years ago this whole area was covered with water and with millions of years of weathering the only thing left are hard flat topped rocks that rise only ever so slightly above the ground. Heading out of Goodooga along the Brenda Road towards the park it’s not long before you cross the Culgoa River and on the boundary of huge wheat farms until you enter the Culgoa park. The entry is well sign posted and it’s mandatory to stop at the rangers off just to let him know that you've arrived. Fees cant be paid directly here, as they must be paid online and due to no phone service in the park - it’s impossible to do it at the rangers station. 

If your like me and after more remote coming, the ranger can head you out to Redbank Hut camping area. This is bush camping at it’s best. Getting to Redbank is as easy as following the map for another 12km west along the park trails. A 4wd is necessary due to the soft sand and sometimes high brush that you need to drive over that grows between the wheel tracks. The landscape is barren and harsh as you head towards the hut and open camping area. Stands of Mulga and Gidgee trees line the road with desert Mitchell grasses underneath all looking for nutrients in the red sand. Don't expect anything at Redbank as the camping area is an open area with little shade but you can camp near the dam at the hut. 

Back at the turn of the century there were several large stations that ran sheep and cattle on the land that Culgoa occupies today. Over the years these stations have been acquired to increase the parks size. Redbank Hut was a pastoral homestead which has a artesian bore nearby. The hut and surrounding relics have been preserved by the current ranger- Andy Coward who has been stationed at Culgoa for the past 13 years. Scouting around the hut it’s pretty easy to find old relics like the outhouse, bottles, marked fence posts, old implements and more. Showing respect here by leaving things as you find them is always a good feeling because when the next lot of visitors come along they get the chance to experience the surrounds. If your lucky at night you might get to hear and see brush tail possums and the little Pied bats as they chirp in the night sky. 

Continuing out through Culgoa to the west it’s a well beaten road that heads out towards Jobs Gate and towards Cunnamulla. If there has been no rain the roads are generally in good condition for out here with the usual red gibber rock strewn across the sandy roads. Exploring out here you need to be aware of the dangers and risk involved as there are patient dangers. The summers are extremely hot, you may see little or no other travellers, no phone signal or facilities. trip planning is essential where you need to carry a first aid kit, plenty of food and water, map or GPS, and have a reliable vehicle with spares. 

Even though it’s a remote destination the area is known for having an ecological rich floodplain that supports a diverse array of wildlife within the Coolibah woodland pockets. Planning is best in the cooler months and a great stopover when exploring western Qld. 


Is it safe and ok to travel solo with a camper trailer these days ?

There’s lots of pros and cons about this these days, but on my last few trips it’s been playing on my mind. With the phone network getting better and better and the advancement of different social media outlets that include Facebook, Instagram and texting it is good to keep in touch if something happens. Sounds silly but often l find in remote locations sometimes a text wont go through but a posting on Instagram ( @woolgoolgaoffroad ) will work. At least this way if anything happens someone can see your last position post. Using social media can definatly help when you have service. We live in a funny land regarding network service. I’ve been in some bloody remote location and sometimes can get 1 bar of service-not enough to make a call but enough to send something out, just maybe the wind might of been blowing the right direction from a remote community,oil or gas station. Then on the other hand the signal drops out on the towns outer-limits, now that’s frustrating. 

The looks you get from other travellers can be painful too when setting up solo with a trailer. Can just hear the chatter, ‘too big, why ?,bit silly, better having a swag or tent’ and so on. Most of my big trips are done solo with a trailer but just last year l did a two week trip out through the corner and back with just a tent and it was great. Nice and simple with my fridge, plenty of water, $20 cooker and sleeping gear. But you know what ? all of that gear still filled my 4wd. Throw in a self inflating mattress, sleeping bag, box of food, spares, camera plus tripod and tools but it was great. Simple and easy-setup tent, pull out awning from car, cook on the back tailgate and not having to worry about having something behind you as you explore areas. Maybe this is the answer. But then I suppose it depends on big your 4wd is too.

There is no right or wrong answer and definatly no rules for solo travelling but as I’m getting older I’m thinking more and more of it. Sure you can have some great times but enjoying it by yourself is a little tedious sometimes. At least you have all the planning rights for the trip.
People often get into the notion of they are going to remote areas and need 4wd, need the biggest fridge and need what-not, yet you start talking to them and they may not even be going off the bitumen and if they do they will see some kind of town every day sometimes two, which are good for supplies and fuel. Too often I see people without the basics and essentials for outback remote when travelling solo like UHF radio, GPS unit, first aid kit, unprepared vehicle and just no bloody etiquette like slowing down on dirt roads or no lights on when it’s dusty. When you do get to a camping area how close is too close to setup camp ? Sometimes I tuck away from the others so I can still see them through the trees or across the way just for a little security. 
This brings another equation into solo travelling and camping. You’ve spent weeks and months setting out a big trip plan and for most of your trip you stick to it. One day you decide to head off your plan and something happens, might be something mechanical, food poisoning or even an injury from a walk. Who do you depend or rely on ?. It’s these little things that you need to be careful of. Speaking of breakdowns, you need to rely on your mechanical knowledge to fix any issues that may arise-no one else to help out.

Don’t let all of this stop you exploring the outbacks remote areas, but just be prepared. Maybe head away in school holidays when there is more traffic around-sure it may be busier on the roads but good for your personal safety and if you have any breakdowns. Make a plan and pass it on to a trusted person, maybe start a FB or Instagram page where your friends can follow and track your journey. If you do feel the need to tow a camper solo buy a simple setup type. There are a few out there, don’t buy one with all the bells and whistles as these generally take two people to set up and are just too big. Keep things simple, quick to set up and carry minimal but basic items, if you haven't towed before do a course and understand what is going on behind you. 

I suppose it’s not ideal for a solo traveller to drag a camper across the country side for a few reasons;

1..too big…I mean do you really need all the gear associated with a camper for just one person, may be comfy for a week or so but geez lots of gear and stuff to drag around unnecessary. 

2..too long to set up…I know there is no ‘average’ time to set up a trailer as there are a host of different setups out there, but if you allow 20min+  for a couple to set a trailer up just how long would it take a solo to setup and would you be able to manage 20+ poles with ropes ?.

3..bad fuel economy…trust me-dragging a tonne or two behind your tow rig does take its toll and it doesn't matter how big or small the trailer is and when you hit the rough stuff economy does suffer off-road.

4..limits access to areas…sometimes it gets that rough, tight or just plain tedious towing that you want to give up or just go home. Some places could be steep, bloody ridiculous small camp allocations or too rough to keep towing.

5..cost…if you already don’t have one, why spend thousands on one ?..I mean $10 k can pay for a stack load of fuel to travel with, some great gear or even accommodation at caravan parks every now and then.

6..safety..this really got me thinking on my last few trips. Some remote spots I’ve felt uneasy at different spots at night. Waking at night with a tingling feeling-maybe wild dogs or dingos outside, wild cattle rummaging through the area at night to very remote places where if anything happened-no one might know for days, other campers partying through the night, gun shots the list goes on.


Most people have heard of Copeton Dam just up near Inverell in northern NSW. The facts are pretty impressive - 3 times the size of Sydney Harbour when full, some of the best freshwater Cod fishing around ( monsters up to 1.3 meters are caught regularly ), 104 metres deep and offers an array of water sports on the dam. But to be honest this place is amazing with some of the best water front camping you'll find and with history abound in the area. 

Inverell and the nearby Gwydir Valley just north of the dam needed a new water supply, so back in the 1930’s a proposal was planned to dam the current location for irrigation to the ever increasing agricultural production. WW11 came around and funds dried up but wind the clock to 1966 and the current location was approved with work commencing in 1968. It took 5 years to complete the wall and further additions have been improved the past few years with external spillways and 9 massive gates. 

Prior to the valley being flooded, two small towns - Copeton ( formally Boggy Camp ) and Dasey town were busy suppling workers to the nearby gold mine and along with stockyards, a cemetery and buildings they all now lay deep underwater. It’s not until the dam suffers with a severe drought that relics rise from the deep. Back in 1994 the dam registered a 2% water level and it was possible to see some of the 39 cemetery headstones, the mine tower and old fence lines.

Most people head to Copeton for the magical camping and water sports where you can fish, sail, jet ski or just swim in this vast waterway, and with around 45 square kilometres of water to explore it’s not hard to find a quiet cove. Choices for camping are pretty darn good too with kilometres of free camping to paid sites at the Inland Water Holiday Park. For a small fee head to the northern side of the dam along Auburn Vale Road from Inverell. With waterfront sites, fires and dogs permitted, basic showers and toilets, plenty of boat launching spots with total serenity you'll fall in love here. Free camping can be found on the Eastern side coming in from Howell, with no facilities you need to be totally self sufficient as it’s a long way into town if you forgot the loo paper. 

The Inland Water Holiday Park is nothing short of an amazing place. Here you can camp as hard as you want away from others, camp on the waters edge, have grassy sites, near facilities, fires are allowed and with 24km of water frontage on 1000 acres there is somewhere for everybody. From the moment you arrive you are made at home from one of the many staff that are passionate about their job and the dam. The kids and big kids at heart can be kept busy for days with playgrounds, golf course, canoe hire, walking trails and much much more. Don’t be surprised when you take a stroll around the park and see the vast array of wildlife from Deer, Pelicans, resident Emu’s, plenty of kangaroos, predatory birds to squawking Plovers. It’s not until you drive this mammoth park to realise just how vast it is and the options available. 

This area is also known as part of the fossickers way where you can scratch around for gems and coloured stones. Not people know that diamonds were found in this area. On the eastern side of the dam just near Howell, the Conrad Mine began operation back at the turn of the century when Diamond’s and Tin were found and over the years the mine hit good times and bad with problems with arsenic, water and collapses. Some of the original shafts that were all dug by hand are nearly 250 feet deep. Eventually the good fortune ran out and the mine was shut in the mid 1950’s. Currently safety procedures are in place to clean the site up and to preserve it for historical reasons. While the Conrad mine was operational other areas were explored within the region and smaller mines were opened with some degree of luck with a host of other gems and minerals found. Sapphires were found in the area and by 1970 there were over 100 mining operations in the district all searching for this shiny stone. Inverell is now known as the Sapphire City.

Halfway between Copeton Dam and Inverell on the Copeton Dam Road, the local shire has put aside a large lump of land where you can fossick for free. Sign posted at Staggy Creek it’s only a short drive through several paddocks ( keep the speed down and shut the gates ) to the digging fields. Staggy Creek Reserve is part of an ancient creek bed where it’s been eroded down to what it is today. Even though the ground has been dug over for the past 20 years it’s still pretty exciting to scratch around for an alluvial Diamond, black Tourmaline, Tin or clear Quartz. The best way to explore here is just to walk around and check out the amount of holes ( shafts ) that others have dug. Either dry sieve or if there is any water in the small dam let the water wash the dirt away and hopefully to expose a surprise or two. 

On the eastern side of the dam not far away the hamlet of Tinga holds hidden mining history dating back to 1841 when Tin was discovered and mined. With some 6000 people working in the area the Tin was soon exhausted by 1890 and the boom was over. The Chinese worked and lived amongst the miners and their heritage is still prevalent in town where several buildings and a museum still stands. 

Tingha has a quaint little caravan park where for a few dollars offers honest sites with basic facilities, you’ll also receive local info on where you can scratch for gems and maybe a little secret local knowledge on where the locals and die hard diggers go. For the first timers, head to the Tingha Sands Quarry on the Howell Road. For a measly few dollars you can dig around in their piles of sand and washed dirt for crystals as small as jelly beans up to palm size. The kids will love the easy digging in a safe location.

Weekend fossickers still flock to this area to try their luck in the towns creek and outer bushland. There are old mullock heaps left beside mines in nearby forests where digging is easy to look for Crystals, Jelly Beans, Smokey and clear Quartz and much more. Deep in the forests at Tingha there are relics of an old stone bakers oven and a few baking pits. Even better still the site and unground wine cellar of the Mannix Hotel can be found nearby. The story goes is that the pub burnt down and then shortly after the owners young daughter fell down a mine shaft and died. Unfortunately the owners had enough bad luck in this area and decided not to rebuild the pub and moved away never to be seen again leaving only a stark reminder where their little girl was buried. 

It’s not a trip where you'll experience extreme 4wding, maybe you wont even lock the hubs but wether it be a family weekender to a fossicking trip away the Copeton area has some of the best camping you'll find, history and relics can be found and if your lucky you might even find a gem or two. 


So I've just worked out why people get frustrated with this area and move away for work. I have been in this area for 34 years now, a lot of this time working either directly or in-directly with or for tourists. I have a local blog with an array of local 4wd and camping destinations with over 200 000 views, my google + account where l share the same destinations is currently around the 1.4million views worldwide, l have written two books on 4wding on the coffs coast, have hosted many DVD and TV crews for shoots on the coffs coast, written a host of travel destinations for national recreational magazines, held and organised quite a few 4wd and camping weekends for groups, have submitted touring maps and articles for coffs council and coffs coast marketing, been featured in Focus magazine with what l do- and dabbled in other similar areas. Sure there are other things l have accomplished. Know the area, know hot spots, know the walks bike trails, can setup activities, groups, events etc, can take half decent pics blah blah and a lot of it self funded. Been to uni for Tourism and Travel certifications, done my Photojournalism, Training and assessment, have a working relationship with the first class luxury accommodation etc. 



So with all this experience there is no work here on the Coffs coast in the tourism industry for me----yet l get a successful application for tourism work in the west starting at $74,000 + super !!!

Go figure Coffs harbour tourism.....maybe its time to re-evaluate