Mar 3, 2014


Located some 70 km north west of Grafton, The Gorge Station is a hidden getaway where access is sometimes controlled by the massive floods that occur in the catchment area of the Clarence- also known as “The Big River’’ . This destination is suitable for camper trailers and off road vans with reasonable clearance.Finding this destination is as exciting as spending time there. Heading west from Grafton towards Glen Innes along the Gwydir Highway swing right some 10km out of Grafton and head towards Copmanhurst. Travelling the next 23km you will pass rural properties, hobby farms and scattered bushland. Some thing for the kids is to keep an eye out for the numerous amounts of active ant hills that are littered road side. The town of Copmanhurst was settled back in the mid 1880’s. The early settlers used this point as a direct link to the river system sending freight such as timber, livestock and produce some 50km downstream towards Grafton.

Copmanhurst is the last stop for basic supplies when you heading for the Gorge, bread, milk and other small items are normally available from the general store. Fuel on the other hand is available surprising enough from across the road at the local pub !!, where you can also get great home cooked meals for a decent country price.Heading further west from Copmanhurst you will start to lose phone reception which is a darn good thing when getting away from the masses. Lookout for the Appletree Flat Road on your left at the 10km mark, which is sign posted for the Gorge Station. Heading along here you start dropping down on to local flood plains which are generally in good shape with thick green grass. It won’t be long before you hit Lilydale Bridge, which is a long, low laying 100 metre span. The bridge here has been kept low for a reason. With the massive 10 metre floods that often frequent this area, the bridge was kept low to let the flow of water and debris pass over the top allowing for minimal disruption when the levels subside. The other great thing about approaching this bridge is that it is where the tar ends and the dirt starts !.Crossing the bridge it is as simple as turning right at the Gorge sign and following your nose some 35km. This dirt road will see you pass by the odd farm, also through farming properties and scattered bushland. The general rule along here is to slow down, take it all in and enjoy the drive. The road twists and winds its way along the ridges giving you glimpse of the Clarence River down below on one side with spectacular mountain views on the other.

Crossing grids and passing across several streams is all part of this drive, keep a lookout for local cattle trucks that use this road as their isn't much room for them to move over. Wildlife along here has the right of way, from the cattle that take their time to kangaroos that randomly need to be on the other side of the road. Halfway along you will cross Table Creek, nice spot to stretch the legs and to start the wind down process that this area enhances. As you twist your way towards the Gorge Station it will start to become evident where the definition Gorge comes from. It seems like the end of the road will head into the base of the basin that lies in front of you, in fact some of the mountains rise some 900 metres around you !.The welcoming grid and sign for the Gorge Station soon becomes apparent, yet it is still another 4km to the homestead. This generally unmaintained property road follows the Clarence River further, with several very narrow rickety old timber bridges that seem to be in need of repair. Stopping at the homestead will see you greeted by the owners of this working cattle 8000 station, where directions and other advice are freely given along with a great old country chat. The property has been owned and run by the same family for over 100 years. The great thing about staying here is the variety of camping areas that is on offer. From water access, terrace camping, water views and even several bushland campsites, there is a place here for all needs. The sites are spread well away from other campers to give you a sense of privacy. All the sites are catered with a bbq plate and fire bin, a recycle bin and a bucket for all your scraps for the house pig !.The Gorge is renown for water activities here from bass fishing ( catch and release only ), canoeing and swimming in the fresh clear water of the Clarence River. For a small fee it is possible to hire a tinnie and wander upstream towards several small water falls and to experience the reason why they call this the Gorge.

Mind you flood levels get pretty large here, and you only have to check out some of the recent debris that is high and dry up in the surrounding trees.

There are some light 4wding here on the property, asking at the homestead will have you pointed in the right direction towards Mount Camelback and beyond. Considering there is a 10km river frontage here, there are also several property tracks that will lead you down around to several secluded spots on the river where you can get away from camp for the day and also recharge the fridge batteries in your 4wd. Probably the number one rule here is to keep to designated property tracks, as this keeps damage to a minimal level, steers you away from hidden obstacles and wont have the owner chasing you out.

Weather conditions can change at the blink of an eye up here as we found out, making conditions on the tracks a bit ordinary. The vast range of flora and fauna is evident as you wander around, or even just sitting back at camp taking it all in. From the heavily timbered hills that lie in the distance to the small pockets of micro climates that in and around the old fig trees, to the scrappy plants that seem to be growing out of the rock that line the river. Fauna lovers will appreciate the range of life out here from the various amounts of wallabies' that bound around the waters edge, a huge range of birdlife, and if you are lucky the night time might entice the odd dingo to howl in the hills. This is a great destination for a weekend getaway that is only some 2 hours away from the coastal hustle and bustle, yet it provides pretty much total isolation where you need to be self sufficient when venturing here.

The Gorge is a popular spot for locals too, so booking is essential for that top spot where you pay on the way out not on the way in as you may stay a little longer than planned. A top hidden getaway-with basic facilities-is as cheap as chips, yet has something for everyone with reasonable access

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