If you were google the word Gorge as a noun the meaning would be "A narrow valley between two hills or mountains, typically with steep rocky walls and a stream running through it". Well there is such a place in mid west NSW. The Warrabah National Park seems to tick quite a few boxes, it is remote, you need to be self sufficient, there are plenty of activities and it helps if you have a 4wd to get there. Warrabah National Park is a special park, on the western slopes of Australia's Great Divide. The park was declared in 1984 and now covers nearly 5000 hectares, along nearly 20 km of the westward flowing Namoi River.
The landscape seems to change over every hill and around every corner out here as you rise and fall over the Nandewar Range which was first seen back in 1818 by explorer John Oxley. Gum forests soon give way to forests full of cool climate Conifer trees, paddocks open up as far as you can see, then back down into another gum forest. There are several turns towards the Warrabah, but these are sign posted towards the park. Entering the park you are greeted by the usual information board and pay station where an honesty system is in place to pay your fees. The main campground sits right on the Namoi River with plenty of sites for tents and camper trailers along with several composting toilets, firewood bins and bbq's.
Here the Namoi River has formed an impressive gorge, where it cuts through the Nandewar Range. Huge Granite Boulders line the river where it burbles away creating pools where you can fish for yellow belly, cod, redfin or carp. Take care if swimming in these pools as after floods there can be the chance of submerged logs or cooler water. There is a vast range of animals that frequent the river from little willy wag tails, shags, lizards and snakes and if you are a morning person an odd Platypus can be spotted.
The park lies on the rugged Nandewar Range, part of a belt of granite that extends 200km towards Queensland. This part of the Nandewar Range still has woodlands that form an important corridor for travelling wildlife and still has large areas of Grassy White Box woodlands, their survival is threatened in most other parts of northern NSW. Out here you need to come prepared for cold changes in any season. The winters can get down below freezing and the summers can get stifling hot in the high thirty's- great snake weather.
As you wander along through the localities of Balala, Kingston and Gostwyick, there are a number of old buildings that sit quietly in the paddocks that have been placed on the Register of the National Estate as Heritage Listed buildings. Soon The Glenbarra Trail turns into Balala Retreat Trail and you know that civilisation isn't too far away as sheep stations give way to boutique horse studs, several wineries and seasonal crops. The end of your journey soon comes to a halt at the shire of Brushgrove. Here there is nothing more than the restored school come hall, that was only in service from 1954 to 1964, very quaint in it's surrounding settings, and unfortunately it is the start of the dreaded blacktop with a short run towards Uralla.
Warrabah National Park is located some 80km north of Tamworth in NSW. Turn east off the Fossickers Way just across the river at Manilla which sits on the Namoi River. The first 15 km of the road is sealed, with the last 25 km unsealed. Access from the east is possible starting at Uralla, although care needs to be taken when crossing the Namoi River as this crossing can become swollen after heavy rain.
All types of campers are catered for from walk in sites, tents to off road camper trailers. An additional remote campsite is available for those with a high clearance 4wd a fourth 4 km past the main camp ground. Fees are a minimal rate at $3 per adult and $2 per child per night.
WHAT TO TAKE
You need to be totally self sufficient when visiting this park, bring all food, firewood ( no collection as it is in a National Park ), water ( although it can be collected from the Namoi River but must be boiled first ), there is no phone service in this area. No bins are provided in this park as this attracts vermin.
SUPPLIES AND FACILITIES
Facilities include designated camp fire spots, pit toilets and clean flat camping areas. Manilla, some 40km away is the nearest town for basic supplies, fuel and mechanical repairs.
The road from Manilla to Warrabah is a combination of sealed and unsealed suitable for most AWD vehicles, although to access the more remote camp of Gum Hole is 4wd only. During periods of heavy rain care needs to be taken as there are several cause ways to cross to enter the park.
Additional information can be found at NPWS at Armidale on 0267 760000, Uralla Information Centre on 0267 784496 or
No permits are required to enter the park, although the standard National Park camping fees apply. At the time of writing they were $3 per adult and $2 per child per night.