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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.

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