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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Ebor Falls, Guy Fawkes River National Park, NSW.

Ebor Falls
There is a lovely picnic area with plenty of parking at Ebor Falls. While we were there, golden everlasting daisies were flowering in profusion.

Picnic Area at Ebor Falls

Carpet of everlasting daisies.
It is only a 700 m walk to the Lower Ebor Falls, or you can drive.

Lower Ebor Falls
We may have been there to see the falls but I couldn't resist a photo out over the valley as the sky was drawing my attention.

If you would like to take your time to explore while supporting the local community, the Ebor Sports and Recreation Area is a great little spot to stay the night.

Ebor Sports and Recreation Area.
Ebor Sports and Recreation Area:
Where:  79 km east of Armidale. About halfway along the Waterfall Way. Just south of Ebor Falls Road, on the other side of the road.
Access: Just off the highway. Suitable all rig types.
Cost:  Please place your donation in the pillar near the toilets.
Facilities: Toilets, Tank Water, Sheltered Picnic Tables, Fire place, Bins, Phone and Internet Reception. Pets are allowed. There is a walkway from here to the village of Ebor and to Ebor Falls.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Native Dog Campground and Woolpack Rocks, Cathedral Rock National Park, NSW

Woolpack Rocks
Our primary reason for going to Native Dog Campground was to do the Woolpack Rocks Walk. We had thought, that due to this campground being closer to the road and having access to more rig types than Barokee Campground, it would be the busier of the two however, this was not the case when we were there.

Woolpack Rocks Walk: Grade 4, 8 km return, 2.5 to 3.5 hours.

The start of Woolpack Rocks Walk 
The walk gently climbs towards Woolpack Rocks in the distance for 3.7 km before turning towards the summit. The climb to the top is about 300 m and, by all accounts, much easier than climbing Cathedral Rock. There are a couple of obstacles to overcome but National Parks NSW has put in a couple of structures to aid with getting up. The first structure is a step that looks a bit like a saw horse and is used to help get through a narrow gap between two large granite rocks. I found this easy enough going up but a bit of a challenge coming down.

The second aid to climbing Washpool Rocks is a ladder which was easy to use both going up and down.

The views at the top are truly stunning. This is one of those walks that offers some challenges but also produces a great sense of achievement when accomplished.

Details for Native Dog Campground:

Native Dog Campground
Where: In Cathedral Rock National Park, NSW. 84 km east of Armidale. 122 km west of Coff's Harbour. Turn off the Waterfall Way onto Guyra Road. After 8 km turn left into the park entrance. 
Access: Roads are sealed until entering the park. The park entrance is fairly short but is unsealed and narrow. 
Booking and Fees: No bookings. $6.00 per adult, $3.50 per child per night.
Sites: Suitable for tents, camping beside your vehicle, camper trailers, motorhomes and Caravans.
Facilities: toilet, tables, fire places, wood supplied, information, walks.
Prohibitions: No pets, no smoking.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Barokee Campground, Cathedral Rock National Park, NSW.

Once again, we chose a nice shady site to get some relief from the hot weather. Each site had plenty of room, a table and fireplace.  

Barokee Campground.
Our site backed onto natural bushland and a small creek. We could sit in our campsite and see plenty of birds.

Scarlet Robin
Brown Thornbill
Red-necked Wallabies grazed in the campground in the afternoons.

Red-necked Wallaby

Cathedral Rock Loop Walk: Grade 4, 5.2 km. Extension to the summit: Grade 5, 800 m return. Another option is to walk from Barokee Campground to the summit and return:  Grade 4 and 5, 4.2 km. The last 400 m to the summit involves scrambling over boulders and jumping over crevices. I've been a bit wary of rock hopping since breaking my ankle so we decided to do the loop walk around Cathedral Rock without doing the extension to the summit. Instead, we planned on climbing to the top of Woolpack Rocks when we moved to Native Dog Campground. We set off in a clockwise direction early in the morning and surprised a wallaby and a lyrebird with our presence.

Superb Lyrebird

The loop walk will disappoint those looking for great views of Cathedral Rock as the best it offers are glimpses through the trees. However, it's a great wildlife walk and covers a variety of habitats from swampland to granite rocks and Manna Gum forest. Lots of eucalypts were in flower which attracted a variety of birds.

Cathedral Rock is in there somewhere.
Common Brown Butterfly

Whites Skink Liopholis whitii

Eastern Grey Kangaroos
Red Wattlebirds

Wildlife: Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Red-necked Wallaby, Swamp Wallaby, Sugar Glider, White's Skink.
Bird List: Wedge-tailed Eagle, White-winged Chough, Pied Currawong, Crow, Superb Fairy-wren, Grey Fantail, New Holland Honeyeater, Stripped Honeyeater, Laughing Kookaburra, Superb Lyrebird, Australian Magpie, Eastern Yellow Robin, Flame Robin, Scarlet Robin, Crimson Rosella, Grey Shrike-thrush, Brown Thornbill, Russet-tailed Thrush, Red-browed Treecreeper, White-throated Treecreeper, Red Wattlebird.

Details for Barokee Campground:
Where: 82 km east of Armidale or 123 km south-west of Coff's Harbour. 5 km west of Ebor, turn off the Waterfall Way onto Round Mountain Road.
Access: 8 km of unsealed, narrow road. 2WD suitable in dry conditions. 4WD in the wet. This road can be quite rough.
Sites: Suitable for tents, camping beside your vehicle and camper trailers.
Booking & Fees: No bookings. Self-registration. $6 per adult, $3.50 per child per night.
Facilities: Tables, fire places, wood supplied, non-flush toilet, walks. No bins. No water.
Prohibitions: No pets. No smoking.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Gara Gorge, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, NSW.

Gara Gorge
After packing up at Dangars Gorge Campground we drove to Gara Gorge. We pulled up at Blue Hole Picnic Area for a quick look then we drove on to Threlfall Picnic Area and started the walk from there.

The Threlfall Walking Track: Grade 3, 5.5 km Loop.
The Threlfall Track leaves from either Blue Hole or the Threlfall Picnic Area. As well as passing through spectacular scenery the walk passes by remnants of the 1894 Gara Gorge Hydro-electric Scheme.
Flumes still remain from the Hydro-Electric Scheme
We were't sure which direction to walk the loop so we chose clockwise which meant we walked back past Blue Hole. 

Looking back over the Gara River to Blue Hole Picnic Area
Kingfisher fishing the Gara River
The walk continues on to open eucalypt forest before gently climbing to Gara Gorge Lookout. Then descending back to the picnic areas.

Threlfall Track
View from Gara Gorge Lookout
It was a very hot day which made the walk seem longer than it is. However, it was a perfect day for reptiles. We saw numerous Jacky Dragons as well as some Eastern Water Dragons and one Nobbi Dragon.

Jacky Dragon

Jacky Dragon

Nobbi Dragon

Eastern Water Dragon

There were plenty of Common Brown Butterflies here as well.

Common Brown Butterflies
See the Bird List below for the birds we saw along the walk.

White-eared Honeyeater

Eastern Grey Kangaroo,Jacky Dragon, Nobbi Dragon, Eastern Water Dragon, White's Skink, Orchard Swallowtail, Common Brown Butterfly.
Bird List: Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Pacific Black Duck, Superb Fairy-wren, Red-browed Finch, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, White-eared Honeyeater, Sacred Kingfisher, Crimson Rosella, White-browed Scrubwren, Silvereye, Buff-rumped Thornbill, White-throated Treecreeper.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Dangars Gorge Section of Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, NSW.

Dangars Gorge and Dangars Falls are about 23 km south-east of Armidale. (This is a completely different area to the similarly named Dangar Falls near Dorrigo.) We arrived at Dangars Gorge Campground on a very hot day and chose a site with afternoon shade in mind. There is free entry and free camping here, so we were pleasantly surprised to see that there were good facilities and only 2 other campers.

Dangars Gorge Campground
Eastern Grey Kangaroo at Dangars Gorge Campground.
We couldn't find any information signs about the wildlife or walks but fellow campers directed us to the signage, which is about 100 m away, near the picnic area car park.

The Dangars Falls Picnic Area is at the end of Dangar Falls Road. It is separate to the Dangars Gorge Campground and has it's own car park. The picnic area is quite large and overlooks an off-shoot of the Salisbury Waters river. There are toilets, picnic tables and gas barbecues.

Dangars Falls Picnic Area
There is a well equiped camp kitchen halfway between the campground and picnic area. Although the camp kitchen is a bit further away from camp than normal, it is very well set up with tables and free gas BBQ plates as well as gas burners. This turned out to be fortuitous for us as we had misjudged how much gas we had before setting out and ran out of gas in our main bottle only two days into the trip. We do carry spare canisters so it wasn't a complete disaster but the gas burners allowed us to boil water quickly and the BBQ plates were handy for frying a large batch of onions. An added bonus was the pleasant views while we cooked. There is also a beautifully placed outdoor table between the camp kitchen and the main lookout over the falls. 

Camp Kitchen
Camp Kitchen
There are excellent lookouts and views within 300 m of the camp kitchen which makes Dangars Gorge a great destination for those who don't hike. 

Despite visiting in the summer, when the waterfalls are usually at their most stunning, Dangars Waterfall was barely a trickle when we were there. Even in the dry, Dangars Gorge is worth seeing. The gorge is immense and photos of it just don't seem to do it justice.

Dangars Waterfall.
Dangars Gorge from the top of Dangars Waterfall.
The area around the river, near the picnic area, is pleasant to explore.

Foot bridge near the picnic area.
Orchard Swallowtail, male.
We couldn't resist exploring further, so we set off early the next morning on a walk combining the Mihi Falls Walk and the McDirtys Walk. Altogether, about 11 or 12 km. 

Rock Wallaby Lookout, Grade 3, 2.2 km return.
We saw both Swamp Wallabies and Brush-tailed Rock Wallabies on the way to Rock Wallaby Lookout.

View into the gorge from Rock Wallaby Lookout

Mihi Falls Lookout, Grade 3, 9 km return or about 7 km return via the shortcut.

We encountered large numbers of female Common Brown butterflies along this walk. Despite their name, these butterflies are not commonly sighted where we come from so we enjoyed seeing them. Their superb camouflage when resting and their sudden bursts of flight do make them a challenge to photograph.
Common Brown Butterfly, female.

Mihi Falls
Gorge view from Mihi Lookout.

Instead of continuing on the Salisbury Waters Walk we headed back via a loop that runs along the edge of the national park boundary and then added on McDirtys Walking Track.

McDirtys Lookout Walk, Grade 3, 7 km return to Dangars Falls Picnic Area.

The track follows the gorge ridge and is rocky underfoot. Along the walk there is a good viewpoint out over the gorge and at the Lookout at the end of the walk.

View from the Lookout at the end of McDirtys Track.

Details for Dangars Gorge Campground:
Where: 23 km south-east of Armidale. From Armidale head southeast along Dangarsleigh Road, turn left into Dangars Falls Road. At the end of the road turn left into the campground. (Please note: this is not the Dangar Falls area near Dorrigo).
Access: Dangars Falls Road is unsealed for about 10 km. 2WD, all weather access. 
Sites: 10 dirt sites. Suitable for tents, camping beside vehicle, camper trailer, motorhome and caravans.
Fees & Booking: Free entry. Free camping. No bookings.
Facilities: Non-flush toilet, fire pits, wood supplied, some sites have tables, some water taps, access to walks. No phone reception. No bins. Information signs are near the picnic area car park.
Prohibited: Pets, Smoking.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby, Swamp Wallaby, Hare, Eastern Water Dragon, Orchard Swallowtail, large numbers of Common Brown Butterfly.

Birds: Nankeen Kestrel, Satin Bowerbird, Grey Butcherbird, Galah, Little Pied Cormorant, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Pied Currawong, Crow, Pacific Black Duck, Superb Fairy-wren, Grey Fantail, Red-browed Finch, White-faced Heron, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, White-eared Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater, New Holland Honeyeater, Laughing Kookaburra, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Australian Magpie, Australian King Parrot, Crested Pigeon, Wonga Pigeon, Flame Robin, Scarlet Robin, Eastern Rosella, Crimson Rosella, White-browed Scrubwren, Grey Shrike-thrush, Dusky Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Brown Thornbill, Buff-rumped Thornbill, White-throated Treecreeper, Red Wattlebird, Rufous Whistler, Willie Wagtail.