Aug 9, 2018


The Rocky River trip starts just south of the heart of town as you wander down the aptly named Scrub Road then onto Billirimba Road. Keep an eye out for abandon farms and transport machinery as they sit quietly in the paddocks from days gone by. With long straight tree lined sections of dirt you can gaze across the paddocks with views towards the mountains in the distance, views to die for in every direction. 

With Quilgeran Pinnacle to your right and Black Mountain to your left you feel pretty small as you follow the road as it snakes through the terrain. Soon you pass through the locality of Steinbrook, not much anymore, just a big kink in the road with several 90 degree corners and the old hall. From here on you pass through private stations, breeding primality cattle in the valleys. Old sheds, massive trees, and cattle yards - just everything seems to look old and plenty of opportunities for photo stops. 35km along, Billirimba Road winds its way down to the Timbarra River and the intersection of Upper Rocky River Road to your right. The Rocky River road narrows down as it passes between huge boulders that line the road. This was once the main thoroughfare between Tenterfield and Drake then onto Grafton 100 years ago. The road workers simply could not move these granite boulders that in some case are as large as a bus so they simply built the road around them.

As the road follows the Timbarra river the drop-offs are steep where you can see massive pools of water and where the rocks get moved after every big flood, there’s pockets of dry rainforest, old sheds in the hills and then around the next corner acres of tree felled paddocks where the cattle roam freely across and along the road. After a while farm houses are road side so lookout for dogs that may shoot out and slow up as it keeps the dust down. An added bonus when travelling here is the amount of birdlife you may see beside the river- from Shags, Kingfishers and the common old crow it’s good for the kids for a bit of spot the bird game. The roads out here are typical of the old Cobb & Co run roads, as they rise, fall then twist its way over the terrain- this was to keep the stage coach fairly level and flat for those on board. 

There are areas along here beside the river where camping is NOT allowed and are sign posted for all to see, but at the 25 km mark a huge grassed area with tracks leading down to the Timbarra are welcoming sites wether for camping or a cuppa. Stopping under the old Casuarina Trees is pretty special here as the water flows past. Don't forget to throw a rod in and either team it up with some old meat for a chance to snag a freshwater Yabby or a Fork Tail Catfish for a feed. 
There’s no toilets here and no bins. Night time brings out Owls, little squeaking Bats, frogs start crocking and if you sit still long enough and scan the grounds with a torch you may see possums. If you are a keen punter and the weather is right, swimming in the Timbarra River is pure bliss where clean fresh water that has filtered through granite particles definatly leaves you feeling relaxed and clean. Wether staying for an hour or a night have a scout around for any rubbish that may have been left behind, this keeps the area pristine and makes for a happy land owner. 

There is nothing too difficult about this road that a proper 4wd can undertake, for added safety why not choose 4wd high- this will give you some added traction on these granite based roads that can be slippery and the road surface can catch you out if find yourself trying to avoid another 4wd that suddenly appears. Soon the cleared country farmlands turn to a thicker growth as you veer away from the river and into the hills. 

Tall timber sections covered with vines and small farms led the way as the elevation will soon rise, this is where the road changes into Long Gully Road and from dirt to tar. It gets steep as it enters Girard State Forest and the terrain gets a bit more serious as you climb to near 1000 metres above sea level in a few kilometres. 

Being on the southern side of this range, the rainforest is stunning and is generally a bit cooler than the flats below. With tall cool climate ferns, long trunked Bangalow palms and coachwood tree’s it’s a totally different eco system to what you have just left behind. Even the wildlife has changed to the sounds of Whip-birds, frisky Paddy Melon wallabies and even shy Lyre Birds that may dart across the road.

You know when your getting to the top as there are large stands of scrubby timber - Iron Bark, Black Butt and Scribbly Gum plus dozens of Grass-trees that seem to dance in the wind as you zoom past. Girard State Forest soon gives way to farms and dodgy looking houses and eventually you'll come to the Bruxner Highway which runs between the coast and back up to the tablelands past Tenterfield. 

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