Nov 15, 2013


Some people say that Coffs Harbour is the 4wding capital of NSW, but what about any options that lay hidden past our hinterland. Well there is an option if you were to spend just a little bit more than 2 hours glued to your seat just west of our coastal strip. The outlying areas are full of history from old mills, a derelict 70km railway line, old camps and some great walks that are accessible to most. The journey starts by heading west from Coffs through the old town of Coramba. This area was settled back in 1880 due tom the gold rush that hit here with force for some 15 years. Coramba is a quaint little village offering not much more than a cold beer and some great home made pastries. After filling your belly here it is just several kilometres out of town where you need to throw a left turn and head up the Eastern Dorrigo Way for an unsettling 20 km as you twist and wind around and around some crazy corners. As you wander along, take notice of the pristine rainforest pockets tucked ever so neatly in the valleys, and the tall white gums that give shade as canopy cover. As you climb up towards the 700 metres above sea level, tree ferns hang beside the road offering shelter for the array of birds that thrive here, from whip birds, parrots and native birds. 

Reaching the top of the plateau will see you pass several turns to villages that are just a locality on the map. Farms and scattered houses line the road for a few more miles. Just past the Ulong turn, the tar road takes a sharp left towards Dorrigo, this is where you need to go straight on-straight on to the dirt, finally- well it has been around 30 kilometres on the dreaded sealed road. 

It is around here that the kids might start to complain, as phone coverage will soon drop out so there will be no facebook or text messages like OMG, LMFAO, WTF or even L8ER !!. Soon everyone will start to appreciate the clean crisp air that this area has to offer, along with other smells and sounds that are hard to come by sometimes. Large farms trying to make a living scatter the road for a few kilometres until a low bridge crossing over the Bobo River. By looking to the left you will see a huge steel bridge structure that was once part of the bustling Dorrigo to Glenreagh rail line. 

It is possible to jump on the left hand track to see how mighty this structure is. Defiantly a well made bridge that is still standing some 100 years since it was built. The drive out towards Nymboida will see you pass through several different State Forests, Flora Reserves and National Parks. These forests are a mixture of planted pine plantations, regrowth areas, rainforest pockets and reseeded gum plantations. Just past the Bobo River bridge is where the first pine plantation starts. When logging major sections of this forest the gate will be locked, but warning signs are always in place. You will need to be very diligent of any logging out here, as the roads are narrow, the corners are blind and the trucks don't move. Best to throw the headlights on, wind down the windows keep aware and enjoy the ride. 
From the Bobo River it is just 17km to the old village of Cascade. Once a thriving town, it is home to just several houses and the Environmental Education centre for local kids. Here they learn local history, embark on several walks and some away from home camping. Cascade was once home to several pubs, two steam driven timber mills that operated between 1925 till 1962 and a host of other services. It is here on the right where you can explore the Cascade Case Mill. The case mill made ammunition boxes for the Second World War from local timbers. As you wander along the Cascade Trail there are numerous relics still standing from boilers, a timber shute high above, old steam driven generators and even an old press. It’s hard to believe this gear is still here. 

The roads out here are not too bad but can change dramatically due to unpredictable weather conditions, from just plain rough rocky patches to long muddy sections. Tall stands of Blue, Flooded and Blackbutt gums line the road casting shadows that don't let most of the road dry out in the cooler months. Before you leave the pine plantations there are some great tracks to jump on and to play, but you will need the right map as these roads criss cross in every direction, just don't get lost. 

At the 60 mark there is quaint little spot for a cuppa. To the right of the road a small bridge will take you across to a well grassed picnic area that has views over a great summer swimming hole, and there have been several platypus spotted here, so keep an eye out.  There is a dodgy drop toilet here, for those who just need to go.
Jumping back in the car, it is just another 5km up the road where a well sign posted pointer will send you left towards Platypus Camping Area. Here the roads are maintained occasionally so keep a look out for those nasty potholes that just appear. For the next 5 km thick rainforest growth will line the road, but keep an eye out for the old Red Cedar stumps that were classed as Red gold some 100 years ago. 

Another 10km further along the trail, a history walk will appear on the left hand side- The Tramline Trail. Here an 800 metre walk will lead you along and around an old log camp where a narrow gauge tramline ran. The idea was to haul the logs out of the bush using a series of pulleys and a tall central pole that was around 80 feet tall and had to be greased daily !!.. Bet there was no OH and S in those days. Along the marked walk there are information boards that explain along with old pictures just how things worked in this camp. You are able to see old platforms, old bridges along with some massive timber that still stands today- a great spot to spend an hour to explore and to relive how tough the old timers were-def not to be missed.

Thee bush will soon give way to the odd xanthorea tree, and the bush will become dry, dense and scrubby.  From here on the track starts to wind its way down towards the bottom of the gorge, not overly steep, but steep enough to pick a low gear as there isn't much room to pass an oncoming 4wd.

At the 80- km mark you can just about hear the great Nymboida River raging as it passes below, but there is another option to explore a great stand of Red Cedar trees is to bypass the turn to the turn to the left and head straight on to the end of the grassy trail. Here a well sign posted 600 metre walking trail will lead you around a rare stand of forgotten Red Cedar Trees. Keep an eye out for Paddy Melon Wallabies' and the odd Lyre bird that make this area their home.

Retracing your steps back to the turn to Platypus will have you heading down the steeper part of the main track until you reach the camping sign on your right. The 1km track down to the camping area is narrow and steep so best to go slow and steady until it flattens out where you will be greeted with lush green river frontage picnic and camping areas. 

Campers are directed to the far end of the camping grounds while day-trippers have their own area well away. There are several clean drop toilets here as well as firewood-sawmill off cuts that are dumped in a large fire box that is supplied by National Parks. As long as you pay your minimal fee (National Park Standard $5 per adult, $3 per child), you can have a fire in the designated pits, camp to your hearts delight and even take to the water if you’re keen. Fishing is allowed here, but if you target the Endangered Eastern Cod, and your caught, expect a LARGE fine, these fish are protected.

Free gas bbqs and several tables are provided free for all to use, but you must take your rubbish away as there are no bins, this is a deterrent to the local wildlife, from the pesky resident goannas to the odd crow that is always after a feed. 
Summer time in the Nymboida region can attract the odd Red Belly Blake snake, so just take care when walking the trails. 

After unwinding here for several days, the option is many. Do we head straight back home?, I mean we are just 80km from the hustle and bustle of the coastal dwellers; do we head out towards Dorrigo to explore the World Heritage National Parks?; or head further west across the river for another few days away- probably the best option is to sit back, put your feet up and let the river do your thinking for you, because honestly you have done enough walking and exploring for several days- let it all sink in and enjoy the sight and sounds of the might Nymboida River.

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