Because its not a fast road, wind down a window or two and listen to the whipbirds as you pass under the canopies of the forest, its almost like the birds are in your car. As you climb towards the top the air gets a bit thinner as you peak at 600 metres above sea level. There are several spots to stop and admire the view back towards the coast and down into some steep timbered country where gold was found- but thats another story. Further along here you pass through several communities such as Lowanna and Ulong. Theres not much here anymore, but for those needing a toilet break and even a quick cuppa you are more than welcome to stop. These two towns were linked by a rail system over 100 years ago when gold and timber was the number one commodity. At Lowanna efforts are under way restoring the old station and train carriages.
Passing Ulong the road turns left to Dorrigo, here you need to go straight ahead onto the dirt. From here, farms dominate the country side for several kilometres before you cross the Bobo River across an old but safe low level bridge. If possible look left when your on the bridge and youll see part of the old rail system, a huge metal bridge that spans the river and the river flats that hasnt seen a train on it for over 30 years. Its recommended that you travel with your lights as a safety precauction as along here you might encounter other uses like biks,the odd log truck or day trippers. The next few kilometres will see you pass wind through pine plantations, that are constantly being logged then re-planted. Keep your eyes open here as wildlife starts to become more frequent with paddy melon wallibies,lyrebirds and even cattle roam this area.
The next town you enter will be an old sleepy village- Cascade. Not much is happening here now but back at the turn of the century this was a halfway point between Dorrigo and Coffs. It was alive with huge log camps,a school and the railway had a dozen sidings. Here at Cascade the only things left is a educational camp where local schools have camps and the kids can learn more about our history and gives them a chance to camp out. Only several houses stand here now, being taken over by time. Stopping here at Cascade you can explore Cascade Heritage Trail where the old Case Mill was built. It operated during World War II, from 1939 to 1945, sawing rainforest timbers for ammunition cases.
The mill machinery was powered by steam. Here you can walk amongst huge old boilers and steam equipment, touch the old wheels and press then ponder how life was 100 years ago. Parts of the old Case Mill still stand but is slowly decaying into the ground and being overgrown with lantana and wild vines. lf you have time there are several walks around Cascade that leads you through some amazing rainforest, down past the old railway and you get to see first hand the size of some of the massive red cedar, and hardwood trees that were hand cut with axes and crosscut saws- life was hard in those days.
Considering your only 40 km from the hustle and bustle of the coast at any time you can pull over and listen tho the bush sounds and feel like your a million miles away. Cedar road keeps on winding through heavily timbered country with the occasional sign stating when it was logged. National Parks go to great lenghts in looking after these roads and it shows with smooth edges and run offs for the water to escape without causing any errosion. A recommended speed limit of 40-60 kph is enough along here for the fact there is so much to see, and it gives you a chance to pull over for any photo oppitunities, and being a bit quieter too a chance to see wildlife from birds,wallibies down to lizards and even snakes that make these forests their home. Sign posted along here you will see the Tramway Walking Track, this is a must do on the day. It will lead you on an amazing 800 metre walk around an old mill site and living area.
The construction of this 90cm gauge line began in 1925 and was used for the gathering of timber for the local market. It was an amazing system where the logged trees was slung high ( not ox dragged) above the ground using a sling system with around a mile of steel cable run through pullies and connected to a main 90 high pole ( that had to be geased daily !!). The logs were then slung around and put upon the rail trollies to be taken away to the mill. As you walk the loop it is still possible to see hand cut sleepers,the winch platform, building foundations and bridge timbers across the creek. This walk is enviro friendly for the whole family, reasonably flat and well sign posted.
Back in the car heading further west we soon find ourselves heading down hill, and this is a clear indication that it is gorge country. The timber starts to thin out, grasstrees start to appear and the rainforest gives seems to have dried up. Indicating right at the Platypus Flat sign, this final drop down to the river is a welcome sight.
Upon arriving here there are several options, wether it be for an overnight stay or for the day trippers there is plenty of space for everyone. The campers are well looked after up in the far end with a large area to park and setup. Camping here is recommended year around, the winter months will get chilly but with an ample fire it wont take long to warm up. But being a National Park, collecting firewood within its boundries is not allowed. In the summer months listen out for fire bans and use the fire pits provided for cooking if need be. Along the river bank a well maintained grass area is looked after by the National Parks who service this spot regulaly by mowing, suppyling free firewood,cleaning the pit toilets and newly placed gas bbqs, and collecting minimal camping fees.
Throughout the whole area there are bbq table and chairs, pit bbqs, and just added a great covered area with free gas bbqs. No bins are provided here for the fact that the animals and birds would have a field day digging around in the rubbish. It shows that people that come here respect this as there is never any rubbish laying around. Platypus Flat is where several local white water rafting companies start their rafting adventures, and it is always great to watch these guys start here with the rafts loaded up with excited newcomers not really knowing what to expect.
Swimming is safe here for all ages, from the littlies just wanting to paddle around to the more adventurious wanting to ride the smaller rapids on tubes. Fishing here is permitted with a freshwater licence, but be warned you are not allowed to target the endangered Freshwater Eastern Cod, huge fines apply. If camping here, its not called Platypus Flats for nothing, around daylight and dusk if you are quite and still the odd Platypus can be seen. Just a word of warning, there are several local goannas that hunt around for food, so if you wander away from camp just make sure that your food is locked away.The pit toilets here are first class, no smell, always clean, and with a million dollar view. Several hours can be lost here playing with the kids, exploring the river, or just lazing around reading the paper forgeting about lifes problems. When it is time to drag yourself away for the 90 min drive back the coast, there are several options. Either retrace your steps, or turn right back on top of the hill where the Platypus Flat sign is and follow the sighns back to Dorrigo for maybe an afternoon icecream and cuppa. From Dorrigo it is a casual 40 min drive back down towards Bellingen and back to the real world.
The Nymbodia river is around 62 km long which runs along the Great Escarpment from the Dorrigo Plateau through some granite gorges down towards Grafton.The first white man reported to of been here was escaped convict Richard Craig back in 1834, who lived with the Gumaynggirr aboriginal people. The name Nymboi is a locality and the name Bindary means river a name which has a true meaning today. Other spots in Nymboi Binderay Nat Park include The Cod Hole and The Junction. These spots downstream are a little harder to get to and camping is allowed with an honesty box for National Park fees, definatly worth a vist. The Junction is where the Nymbodia and Little Nymbodia rivers meet, a great spot to swim in the rock pools and for those who like a little adventure, riding the small rapids are a great way to throw time away and you can even find several spots where the water tumbles over rock and this can be used for an exilarating shoulder massage- its just that good.
The Cod Hole around 6km down stream from Platypus is where whitewater rafters end their half day trip. Camping is allowed here, but the only facilities is a pit toilet- sometimes thats all you need. Several structures here provide shade when the sun gets pretty hot. There is evidence here of just how high the river can rise in full flood. High up in the trees-sometimes up to 40 feet- you can see drums,tyres,huge logs and debris from past water levels. So you can make this day a fast track drive just to laze around the river, or explore everything the drive has to offer, there is something along here for everyone. Whats more important- ''The journey or destination ?".