Dec 29, 2013


Chaelundi National Park is located 60km north of Dorrigo in a remote area, where you need a NPWS key to gain access. Entering Chaelundi from the Nymbodia side 24km south west from Grafton, it is relatively easy to find. 10km past the Nymboida Coaching station- Boundary Creek Road is well sign posted and also has the directional sign to Chaelundi. The roads here are irregularly maintained and do pass through several working cattle properties so care must be taken. Boundary creek Road follows the lands terrain for several kilometres before it starts to wind down into several gullies giving you views of the hills ahead, as you travel at 700 metres above sea level. Logging is still performed in these areas so just be aware of any warning signs or better still- drive with your lights on. 

Not long you will approach an intersection directing you to Chaelundi NP, here you will need to veer right down onto Shannon Creek Trail. This trail keeps wandering deeper into the forest where if you keep an eye out there maybe a chance to see the odd Lyrebird, Goanna or even a Wallaby. Shannon Creek has a quaint little area where you can pull over for a stop; it has a pit toilet, bbq, table and an info board for some detailed history and geological data on the area.  

Rising sharply from here the trail passes huge white gums and massive tree ferns that line the road until the top of the ridge. It’s here that you will find the beginning of the Chandlers Creek fire Trail to the left, and its here that you will need the key. Its best to check the key box for spiders as they do like to hide up in the box. From the top of this trail you will notice that the track is all down hill and you will need 4wd low as it does get pretty steep and some ground clearance would also be an advantage as some of the wash away mounds can get a little  high. As you wander down this trail- take notice of the prehistoric Cycad plants that actually date back to the dinosaur period. The trail wanders down the mountain for several kilometres dropping several hundred metres to the bottom and the views through the trees on the way down are pretty impressive looking across the valley. At the bottom there are several creek crossings, these have a firm rocky base- still be advised to check them if there is any recent rainfall. Following the trail across several open valleys you will be pleasantly surprised upon arriving at the Doon Goonge Camping area.

Camping here is superb with grassy sites overlooking the river below, a backdrop of the seriously steep terrain, swimming holes just a minute walk down the bank, clean drop toilets, fire pits and solitude. NPWS do control how many 4wds and campers visit this area at any one time, with a maximum of 6 camping spots allowed. There are no bins here as it keeps the vermin away and the area pristine for others to enjoy. You will need to bring in your own firewood from outside the park also. This area is great for the kids as it is flat, grassy and relatively safe. Swimming is also available in the nearby Chandlers Creek with a short stroll from the camp, the water filters down through many valleys and is always refreshing, and the running water is always pleasant to listen to through the night. 

Heading out from Doon Goonge is low range territory again. although not a hard drive out. There are several more creek crossings and with the climb out it is best to select low to avoid any track damage and for a little more control. Heading out of Doon Goonge you are now on Quartz road, where several kilometres up the track you will need to use your key to unlock the gate to leave the area. The views from here are quite impressive too looking across to gorge walls and below from where you just came from. Quartz Road is one of those rough roads where you will need to find your own pace depending on the condition of the road, as they are very irregularly maintained and do get very rough. The track continues for a further 10km up hill towards the outskirts of Chaelundi NP where you will arrive at a T intersection on the Chaelundi Trail. The option here is to turn left for a 90km drive back to Dorrigo, or turn right and head down towards the Boyd River and the Old Glen Innes Road. By turning right here and following the Chaelundi Trail down through several valleys for a further 15km you will soon arrive at the old settlement of Dalmorton. This area was alive with gold mines, was a bustling settlement and was on the Cobb & Co route at the turn of the century. Now a ghost town the NPWS are going to lengths to preserve the remaining buildings and the area. there are several info boards here where you can read about the history over the past 100 years and to just imagine what it would have been like out here in this area. Heading east from here beside the river, Grafton is only 90 minutes away. This area is remote and definatly worth exploring even just for a weekend getaway. 

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