30 million years ago, an ancient volcano located just near Dorrigo NSW, gave an almighty push from the deepest realms of our great earth and because of this we have some great 4wding and destinations to explore on the NSW north coast. A local favourite is the Nymboi-Binderay National park located 60km west of Coffs Harbour.
This National Park is full of history, activities, 4wding and has some great camping options. Although it isn’t 4000km outback, it is a remote area with no phone service, very limited traffic, no services and is within some deep gorge country.
Heading west from Coffs through Coramba, a left turn up the Ulong Mountain will have you winding down the windows listening to the whip birds and breathing in the crisp cool mountain air. Ulong is the last stop for fuel, basic supplies and just quietly they do a great coffee.
The tar road soon ends here and you’ll enter tall stands of blue, flooded and blackbutt gums that line the road casting shadows that keep the road moist in cooler months. There are pockets of rainforest and several timber plantations along the way. The roads out here are not too bad but can change dramatically due to unpredictable weather conditions, from just plain rough rocky patches to long muddy sections.
One stop that is a must is the old town of Cascade, once home to several pubs and two steam-driven timber mills that operated between 1925 till 1962. It is here on the right where you can explore the Cascade Case Mill. The case mill made ammunition boxes for the Second World War from local timbers. As you wander along the Cascade Trail there are numerous relics still standing from boilers, a timber chute high above the ground, old steam driven generators and even an old press.
Another hidden gem located in the park is The Tramline Trail. Here an 800-metre walk will lead you along and around an old log camp where a narrow-gauge tramline ran. The idea was to haul the logs out of the bush using a series of pulleys and a tall central pole that was around 80 feet tall and had to be greased daily! Bet there was no OH and S in those days!
Along the marked walk, there are information boards that explain along with old pictures just how things worked in this camp. You are able to see old platforms, old bridges along with some massive timber that still stands today – it’s a great spot to spend an hour to explore and to relive how tough the old timers were – definitely not to be missed.
Nymboi has three camping options. Platypus Flats which is the most popular option with campers, day trippers and whitewater rafters. The Cod Hole is further downstream as is The Junction where you need 4wd to access due to the steep terrain.
Campers at Platypus Flats are directed to the far end of the camping grounds while day-trippers have their own area well away. There are several clean drop toilets here as well as firewood-sawmill offcuts that are dumped in a large firebox that is supplied by National Parks.
As long as you pay your fee (National Park Standard $5 per adult, $3 per child), you can have a fire in the designated pits, camp to your heart’s delight and even take to the water if you’re keen. Fishing is allowed here, but if you target the Endangered Eastern Cod, and you're caught, expect a LARGE fine, these fish are protected.
Great for canoeing, riding the rapids or just kicking back under the gums and oaks that shade the grassy areas, it’s an amazing place. Free gas BBQs and several tables are provided free for all to use, but you must take your rubbish away as there are no bins, this is a deterrent to the local wildlife, from the pesky resident goannas to the odd crow that is always after a feed. Summertime in the Nymboida region can attract the odd red belly black snake, so just take care when walking the trails.
If you’re keen to explore more, a 10 min drive westward from Platypus Flats, lies the Norm Jolly Memorial Grove. Here you’ll be blown away by the monster 800-year-old Tallowwood trees that are being preserved for the future.
An 800-metre walk leads you in and around these magnificent trees, stunning tree ferns and rainforest. After unwinding here, the options are many. Do you head straight back home? We are just 60km from the hustle and bustle of the coastal dwellers. Do we head out towards Dorrigo to explore the World Heritage National Parks, or head further west across the river for another few days away – probably the best option is to sit back, put your feet up and let the river do your thinking for you, because honestly you have done enough walking and exploring for several days – let it all sink in and enjoy the sights and sounds of the mighty Nymboida River.
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