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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Forest Tops Campground, Border Ranges National Park, NSW.

Forest Tops Campground, Border Ranges National Park.
Forest Tops Campground has three tent sites. The sites need to be booked before arrival because there is no phone reception at the campground. Sites 1 and 2 are close to the bollards and Site 3 is a longer walk from the car park but has more shade.

Site 1, Forest Tops Campground.
Site 1 is near the bollards and the gas barbecue. It has a fire place but doesn't have a table.

Site 2, Forest Tops Campground.
Site 2 has a table and a fire place and is between the bollards and the camp shelter.

Site 3, Forest Tops Campground.
Site 3 has a table and is at the back of the campground near the toilet and the walk entry. The Booyong Walking Track is a Grade 3 track. It is a 9 km walk one way to Sheepstation Creek Campground.

Camp shelter and water tanks at Forest Tops Campground.
The campground is well equipped with a gas barbecue near Site 1, a camp shelter with tables and a wood barbecue, water tanks and non-flush toilets.

Russet-tailed Thrush, Forest Tops Campground.

Details for Forest Tops Campground:
Where: Border Ranges National Park, northern NSW. 147 km south of Brisbane via the Lions Road. 114 km north-west of Ballina via Kyogle. 6 km east of Station Creek Campground.
Access: The Lions Road is not suitable for caravans. Caravans and buses are not allowed in the national park east of Station Creek Campground on Tweed Range Scenic Drive. All weather, 2WD, unsealed roads for a few kilometers before and in the national park.
Campsites: Three numbered tent sites. Designated for tents only as parking is behind bollards. Sites 1 an 2 are near the bollards and Site 3 is further back. It is necessary to book in advance as there is no phone reception.
Bookings & Fees: Book online or call 1300 072 757 before arriving. $24 a night for 1 - 2 people, $12 additional person, $6 child from 5 to 15 years old. Plus booking fee. Plus daily park entry fee of $8 or annual parks pass.
Facilities: Non-flush toilets, tables, free gas barbecue, camp shelter with wood barbecue. Walk. Limited non-potable tank water. BYO drinking water and wood. No bins.
Prohibited: Pets. Smoking. Generators. Amplified Music.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Andrew Drynan Park, Running Creek, QLD.

Andrew Drynan Park
On our way to the Lions Road from Brisbane we stopped over at Andrew Drynan Park. The park backs onto Mount Chinghee National Park and there is access to Running Creek across the road at the front of the park.

Picnic facilities at Andrew Drynan Park
The park is free to use as a day use area from 8.00 am until 6.00 pm. If you wish to stay outside these hours camping fees apply. Camping is allowed for tents and all rig types. Pets are welcome. Running Creek is a popular spot with families for swimming.

Running Creek

Details for Andrew Drynan Park Campground, QLD:

Where: 116 km, 1 hour 40 minutes, south of Brisbane. Lot 185 Running Creek Road, Running Creek.
Access: Sealed roads.
Contact: 07 5544 1281 Scenic Rim Council.
Fees: $10 per Adult, $5 per child (5 -15 years), free for children under 5 years. Family: $30 for up to 2 adults and 4 children. Fees collected on site. Surcharge for peak times.
Campsites: Huge grassed area with undefined sites. Suitable for tents and all rig types.
Facilities: 4 flush toilets, some covered tables, some fire rings. Pets allowed. Swimming in Running Creek across the road. No showers. No drinking water. No gas or electric barbecues.
Day Use: The park and the facilities can be used for free from 8.00 am until 6.00 pm.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Green Mountain Campground, Lamington National Park, QLD.

Green Mountain Campground
We have camped at Green Mountain Campground several times but always in the winter. We decided to head up during some very hot February weather in the hope that it would be a bit cooler in the mountains. We had heard that is was easy to see Regent Bowerbirds in the summer. We did see plenty of Regent Bowerbirds but it was still very hot. The tent area in the campground is out in the open and has very little shade. We chose Site 14 because there is a shady area next to it but our tent was in the sun and our ute was parked in full sun all day.

Tent area at Green Mountain Campground.
Since our last camping trip, the Centenary Walking Track has been completed. The walking track makes it much safer to walk to the trail-heads for Morans Falls and Python Rock tracks. The down side for the campground is that the two biggest camping sites for campervans were removed to make the track. Now campervan sites 1 and 2 are smaller and campervan site 1 is next to the industrial bin and a huge pile of rubble. Hopefully, landscaping and flora plantings might improve the site over time.

Entrance to the Centenary Track from the day use car park.
Campervan Site 10, next to the exit road.
Green Mountain Campground has an amenities block with non-flushing toilets and best of all there is a shower block which has gas heated showers. Unfortunately, there is no camp kitchen or camp shelter in the campground which is a nuisance in wet weather.

Amenities Block, Green Mountain Campground.
Shower block, Green Mountain Campground.
Just past the campground, there is a huge car park for day visitors. Past the car park there is a QPWS Visitor Centre which has track information and free brochures covering Lamington National Park. In all my visits, I have never seen the Visitor Centre staffed which is a shame because I would love to talk to a ranger about the longer walks. There is now an inviting WiFi hub next to the visitor centre with free QldParks-WiFi which is handy for making bookings or checking the weather.

QPWS Information Centre.
Inside the Information Centre.
QPWS WiFi Hub at Green Mountain.
One of the reasons we come back to Green Mountain Campground time and again is because there is so much wildlife right in the campground. Red-necked Pademelons can be seen beside the tents day and night and Bandicoots graze in the evening. It is easy to spot Eastern Water Skinks sunning themselves on the tent pads.

Red-necked Pademelon.
Eastern Water Skink
There is a great variety of birds in the campground too. We had Regent and Satin Bowerbirds in the trees near our tent. Eastern Whipbirds wander around right in the open which is a surprise as Whipbirds usually like to skulk in low bushes and it is can be very hard to get a descent photo of them elsewhere. Likewise, it is easy to see Bassian Thrush. Eastern Yellow Robins are a common sight on the campsite posts and Logrunners are easy to find scratching around in the leaf litter. Previously, we have always seen Albert's Lyrebirds in the campground but unfortunately they weren't out and about this trip. We made friends with a couple of Welsh tourists who really wanted to see an Albert's Lyrebird and they checked the campground out several times with no luck. There were lots of Black Jezebel butterflies around and the Welsh guys were fascinated to find that they were so striking on the outside: as they told us that British butterflies are only colourful on the inside.

Regent Bowerbird.
Eastern Whipbird.
Bassian Thrush.
There are plenty of wonderful walks in the Green Mountain section of Lamington National Park; all accessible from the campground. There is a good selection of walks for all fitness levels and we saw several families pushing strollers around the easier walks. We were planning to walk the Toolona Creek Circuit: Grade 4, 17.5 km but we ended up leaving Green Mountains a day early due to Cyclone Oma. We did get the opportunity to walk to Morans Falls and Python Rock which I will cover in my next blog. For more information, a couple of blogs I wrote about the Green Mountain section of Lamington National Park in 2015 can be found here and here.

Details for Green Mountain Campground:
Where: 2 hours,114 km south of Brisbane via Canungra and Lamington National Park Road.
Access: Sealed roads. (Campground loop is gravel). Lamington National Park Road is not suitable for caravans, it is narrow, windy and has many one lane sections.
Fees & Bookings: $6.65 per adult per night. Bookings can be made online or by phone. I had 4 bar Telstra phone reception in the campground. There is a free QPWS WiFi hub next to the QPWS Visitor Information Centre opposite O'Reilly's Rainforest Resort. Book in advance for weekends and holidays. Maximum 21 nights.
Camping Type: Tents, campervans and small motorhomes. There are no sites for camper trailers, caravans, medium-large motorhomes, big rigs or camping beside your vehicle. No powered sites. Bush camping available from February to November.
Sites: 20 defined and numbered tent sites with hardened surface platforms, limited shade, car parking a short distance away, maximum 4 people per tent site. 10 small defined and numbered campervan sites, one vehicle only. Some campervan sites are suitable for roof-top tents. 10 Great Walk sites with maximum 2 tents per site.
Facilities: Several water taps, non-flush toilets, 1 disability toilet, gas heated hot showers, 1 table, industrial bin at top of campground next to campervan site 1. No camp shelter, camp kitchen or barbecues in campground. Access to walks. Telstra phone reception.
Picnic Area: Opposite O'Reilly's Rainforest Resort with hybrid toilets, electric barbecues and tables, some with shelter.
QPWS Information Centre and Free WiFi Hub: Just past the main carpark which is past the campground. Has free brochures and walking track information.
Prohibited: No open fires. No generators. No pets. 
Note: Tent site and campervan site numbers overlap. If you have booked a campervan site look for the campervan symbol on the marker post.
O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat: At the end of the road, past the campground. Cafe. Activities. Accommodation.

Wildlife: Red-legged Pademelon, Red-necked Pademelon, Eastern Water Skink. Butterflies: Black Jezebel, Blue Triangle, Monarch, Orchard Swallowtail. Birds: Regent Bowerbird, Satin Bowerbird, Australian Brush Turkey, Green Catbird, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Pied Currawong, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Superb Fairy-wren, Rufous Fantail, Red-browed Finch, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Brown Gerygone, Lewin's Honeyeater, Logrunner, Black-faced Monarch, White-throated Needletail, Striated Pardalote, Australian King Parrot, Paradise Riflebird, Eastern Yellow Robin, Rose Robin, Crimson Rosella, Large-billed Scrubwren, White-browed Scrubwren, Yellow-throated Scrubwren, Grey Shrike-thrush, Silvereye, Welcome Swallow, Brown Thornbill, Bassian Thrush, White-throated Treecreeper, Eastern Whipbird, Golden Whistler. Heard a colony of Bell Miners on Lamington National Park Road in Eucalypt Forest.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Kattang Nature Reserve, Camden Head, NSW.

Kattang Nature Reserve
While camping at Diamond Head Campground in Crowdy Bay National Park, we drove to Camden Head to visit Kattang Nature Reserve. We parked at the car park on Bergalia Crescent, near the corner of Camden Head Road. We chose to do the Perpendicular Point Walk but there are other options, including parking at Charles Hamey Lookout in the southern end of the reserve. No pets are allowed in the reserve.

Perpendicular Point Walk: 3.7 km return, Grade 3.
We enjoyed this pleasant walk through banksias, bush pea and other native plants that led to great ocean cliff vistas.

Kattang Nature Reserve
Bush Pea
Lady Finger Orchid
While walking the Perpendicular Track we caught glimpses of the fire that later that afternoon got out of control and led to the emergency evacuation of our campground at Diamond Head.

Views of Kattang Nature Reserve and the fire that caused the evacuation of our campground.
We walked the side track to Fisherman's Bluff Lookout on our way back to the car.

Fisherman's Bluff Lookout
After returning to the car park we walked through the nearby picnic area, past Camden Head Pilot Station, along a short boardwalk and out to the Breakwall.

I can never resist walking over a breakwall and this one didn't disappoint. There is a great view of North Brother Mountain, Dooragan National Park, from the breakwall. 

Southern breakwall, Camden Head
North Brother Mountain from thee breakwall.
Pied Cormorant on the breakwall.
We were very hungry by this time and a quick google search showed us that the nearby Laurieton Seafoods had very high reviews. We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch at Laurieton Seafoods and it was a very reasonable price too.

Laurieton Seafoods

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Dooragan National Park, North Brother, NSW.

View from Laurieton Lookout on the summit of North Brother mountain.
Dooragan National Park protects North Brother Mountain near Laurieton and Camden Head in coastal New South Wales. Access is sign posted off Ocean Drive, via Captain Cook Bicentennial Drive. The road is sealed, narrow, windy and steep but finishes at a large car park in front of Laurieton Lookout. The views from the lookout are so captivating that people just stand there mesmerized.

Laurieton Lookout.
There is a picnic area with a large shelter and tables.

Picnic Area.
We saw lots of (young) people resting at the lookout after running up the Laurieton Summit Walking Track which is 3 km one way, Grade 4. Definitely a track for the very fit!

We chose to do the Rainforest Loop which is only 600 meters but is still a Grade 4 track. This is a nice forest trail with a couple of lookouts.

Strangler Fig on the Rainforest Trail.
The Rainforest Trail is a Grade 4 track.
Diamond Head Lookout on the Rainforest Trail.
Second viewing platform on the Rainforest Trail.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Walks and Wildlife from Point Plomer Campground, Limeburner's Creek National Park, NSW.

Little Beach, Lime Burners Creek National Park.
One of the things we loved the most about winter camping on the mid north coast of New South Wales last year, was the beautiful walks along kilometers of pristine beaches and coastal headlands.

Point Plomer Walking Track
Point Plomer Walking Track is a short, easy walk that leaves from the eastern end of Point Plomer Campground beside Barries Bay and leads to a couple of lookouts on Point Plomer.

Barries Bay.
Crested Tern in front of the campground.
Walking alongside Barries Bay.
As we walked along a narrow section of the path through some fan flowers we saw several Australian Pippits but they didn't hang around for a photo.

Australian Pippit.
Point Plomer
View south from Piont Plomer Lookout.

Back Beach and Queens Head 
We set out one morning to walk Back Beach and Queens Head. We made this walk up as we went along and it was a great circuit walk of moderate difficulty. We crossed the road behind the campground and took a beach access past the Point Plomer Holiday Cabins to Back Beach. 

Looking back over Back Beach.
We walked south along the beach and exited via the beach access to Back Beach Road. We then headed south along Point Plomer Road, past the Back Beach Cultural Camp.

We contined on walking to Queens Head parking area. There is a toilet here and the entry to the walk up Queens Head. Of course you could easily drive to the parking area but what can I say, we like to walk. The climb up to Queens Head is fairly gentle and the views are well worth it.

Looking south from Queens Head towards Port Macquarie.
Looking north from Queens Head towards Little Beach and Back Beach.
From this point, we started our return walk by heading north from Queens Head along the beach. There was a fisherman's goat track access up the next headland that we scrambled up to gain access to Back Beach without returning to the road.

Looking towards the "goat track" over the headland.
We walked north along Back Beach and returned to the campground.

During our walk White-bellied Sea Eagles soared overhead and we saw several lone Dingo trails. Please do not approach or feed Dingos and supervise children at all times while walking in Point Plomer National Park. 

Dingo on the beach at Point Plomer National Park.
We nearly stepped on a harmless legless Burton's Snake Lizard that was quite well camouflaged on the sand.

Burton's Snake Lizards are quite small.
Close up of a harmless Burton's Snake Lizard.

Wildlife: Dingo, Burton's Snake Lizard, Dolphins, Humpback Whales, Flying Fox. 
Birds: White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Brahminy Kite, Galah, Great Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Bar-shouldered Dove, Spangled Drongo, Superb Fairy-wren, Grey Fantail, Red-browed Finch, White-faced Heron, Lewin's Honeyeater, White-cheeked Honeyeater, Laughing Kookaburra, Australian Magpie, Masked Lapwing, Australian Pelican, Crested Pigeon,  Australian Pipit, Eastern Yellow Robin, Large Billed Scrubwren, Pied Oystercatcher, Sooty Oystercatcher, Silver Gull, Welcome Swallow, Caspian Tern, Little Wattlebird, Eastern Whipbird, Golden Whistler, Willie Wagtail.