May 2, 2014


Over the long weekend I was lucky enough to have been able to explore the area known as Cangai. This little known area that is located 65km west of Grafton this area has several camping sites that are free on the banks of the Mann River. The turnoff is marked as Cangai, to the east of the Gwyder Highway on you’re right on the way to Glen Innes. After the turn off you start the dirt road drive which generally is in good condition. Probably best for headlights to be on anyway. 

The road winds its way up and over several hills where you have views down across paddocks to the Mann River. Soon you follow the river for a short time- before you need to make a right hand turn (marked) to Cangai. So with a short drive down to the river, and across the old wooden bridge, you can camp just about anywhere here. If you decide to camp on the right after the bridge- the ground is very rocky and hitting pegs in may get bloody hard, BUT it is clod=se to the river with some great swimming close. The other disadvantage here is that because you are so close to the old rattly bridge, vehicles’ crossing during the night may wake you. 

On this trip our choice was across the bridge then to the left, up a bit higher where you have stunning mountain and river views, great for the kids to kick a ball around, yet a bit further away from the bridge and the river- just so you can watch the kids away from the water. 
We found firewood that was high and dry- but we did start collecting wood just after we turned off the tar.

You are allowed to have a fire here, best to keep it in one of the older fire spots, as it keeps them contained and most of these older pits already have stones around the outside. A good hint here is that if you need to get rocks from beside the river- just be very careful as theses rocks contain moisture and may crack or even explode as they will be exposed to heat from the fire. It happens when the rocks dry out to fast and these leads to the cracking.

An amazing spot where you can watch the mist rise from the river each morning, where we even saw pelicans flying upstream and to where there is no phone service which definatly makes you feel cut off from the rest of the world. What we found was great was that we were only an hour from a major city on one of the states busiest highways. 

There is plenty of room for quite a few campers and when we were there we saw several large off-road vans enjoying some free camping overlooking the river. 

A great way to spend time is to go rock hopping along the river where you can see birdlife, fish, turtles and even the odd snake cruising around. Another great way to spend time is to either take a boogie board or kayak and explore the river- just be wary of some of the fast moving water around the rocks. 

After a few days here we decided to leave and head further south- or follow the river upstream. Here the road follows the Mann River for several kilometers passing through several working cattle stations- take care as cattle have right of way through here. The views are sensational as you twist and wind up and over several hills with views across the valley with the river snaking its way through. 

Soon we came across another river crossing where the bridge was low and narrow. What was interesting here was that the bridge had two large boulders marking each side- obviously too large to move. Bridges out here are kept low too allow the massive floodwater and debris to flow over the top allowing for minimal damage to structures. Across the valley a bridge was built back at the turn of the century, it took 6 years to build this mega steel high bridge- was washed away in one flood !!!... So they learnt to build them low for this reason. 

Free camping is allowed here, not a bad spot but very gravelly- might make banging a steel peg in rather hard. After you cross the river here it is only a few more kilometers before you come to the Gwyder Highway. A hard choice here- do you turn left and head into Grafton which is 60 km away or turn right to head back up the mountain?

Unfortunately we turned left and headed to town, 40 mins to Grafton then 50 mins south to home.

I love my holidays, no phone service, good friends, great destinations and the Australian bush.

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