Up the mountains and onto the tablelands
On the way up to Dorrigo, you will pass through a lovely town known for its world music, hippy clothing shops and delicious coffee. The wide Bellinger river runs through the town and is perfect for a swim on a hot day. On the way into town, the Old Butter Factory is a nice spot to have a meal or a coffee, before exploring all the shops.
I lived and worked here for a year, back in 2005. It’s hard to believe ten years have passed so quickly. It is a small country town, with just one main street, two pubs, a butchery and a smattering of other shops. Situated in a beautiful location, green mountains and lush rainforest surround the whole area and it is full of dairy farms and rich soil, perfect for growing potatoes. It was delightful to revisit the bakery, in which I worked after finishing school. The same girl who worked Saturdays was still there, this time with her husband and two children.
We bought some pies and slices and ate them at Dangar Falls, a two kilometre drive from town. This is a great spot for a swim on a hot day – I’ve known people to jump from the top, but I would not recommend it as it is extremely high and injury is almost certain!
After lunch and a short drive through town, we made our way to the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre. This is certainly the highlight of the area. The information centre offers lots of interesting facts about the local environment, native flora and fauna. High up in the trees, the skywalk gives you a spectacular view of the mountains and, on a clear day, you can even see the ocean!
Beneath the canopy, there are many walks you can do, depending on your energy and fitness levels! We took a relaxing stroll through the rainforest, enjoying the vines, the ferns and the bird walk (where we heard whip birds and catbirds sing their distinctive notes).
The walk took us out to The Glade picnic area, where the grassy clearing gives you a magical spot to enjoy a picnic. You might even see a bush turkey wandering about. We spent a couple of hours here, but you could easily spend a whole day, especially if you are a nature enthusiast!
Platypus Flat Camping Area
I love this camping area! It costs $6 per person per night (very reasonable compared to some of the other places we have visited). The drive in is steep and rough, but once you arrive, it is well-worth it! The campsite is located on the banks of the Nymboida River, in the middle of the rainforest. The rapids make for good kayaking and the river is wide and deep in parts, so you can have a great swim. The riverside is surrounded by tall gum trees, which tower above as you paddle around. It was a bit cold to go in the water, but I dived in anyway! Later, it started to rain, so we made a meal of burritos and escaped into the van to watch a movie. The rain kept going all night but it was nice and clear when we woke up.
Ebor Falls: Guy Fawkes National Park
We stopped her for an hour or so for lunch. It’s a very short walk to the lookout point, where the upper falls plummet over the rocks and into a large pool below. The country is dry, but there a lots of white daisies everywhere and even some paper buttercups, which have petals that feel like crepe paper. A further walk takes you to the lower falls, where a larger waterfall gushes over the rocks. Definitely worth the stop.
Point Lookout: New England National Park
This place is magical and slightly eery at times. As we drove into the the National Park, mist started to cloud the road – we could hardly see a metre in front of us. The grass was green and everything seemed to be covered with moss and lichen, including the picnic tables and fence posts. We did the shorter walk at Point Lookout, where we were lucky enough to spot a lyrebird before it scarpered away. There were also lots of spiderwebs hanging in between the branches, glistening with dew. There are a number of bush walks to choose from, but as the mist was covering any possible view, we decided to head back early and set up camp, hoping that the weather would clear tomorrow morning.
Thungutti Campsite is at the base of the New England National Park. We parked the van beneath the towering gum trees and mist clouded the whole area, so that the trees looked like ghosts. Ferns, wild grasses and moss covered the ground and banksia trees were everywhere. It’s much colder up here and we were happy to get a campfire going to provide some warmth and comfort.
The next morning, we drove back up to Point Lookout. The mist had cleared completely and it was a different place in the sunlight. The view was absolutely beautiful! It reminded me of the Blue Mountains, as it holds a similar blue haze. From the lookout, you could see all the way to the coastal towns that we had visited a few days earlier. On a clear day, it is possible to even see the ocean!
From memory, these falls are spectacular. Unfortunately, the area was so dry that, when we walked over to the lookout, not a drop of water was to be seen! The same was to be said for some other falls nearby. It was dry, hot and not the kind of weather we felt like being in!
We finally made it to my home-city of Armidale. It has been at least three years since my last visit and I was excited to catch up with friends and explore the town to see what had changed. Driving through the streets, everything is a lot quieter and smaller than I remembered! It was fun to visit all my old schools, house and shops. We enjoyed coffees and a game of chess at a great cafe called Fat Goose Crossing, which had a Melbourne vibe to it, with its boardgames, bunting and delicious menu. A few days on, we enjoyed delicious breakfasts at Rene on the Mews.
We felt in luxury, staying with lovely friends, who gave us a very comfortable room/ensuite for the evening, hosted an amazing dinner party for us (with a particularly delicious Vegetarian lasagna and carefully prepared berry, cherry and mascarpone cheese dessert), provided unlimited swims in the pool and the use of their washing machine! We had a great stay with them and, even managed to acquire a body board, which has already seen many a swim in the ocean. Thanks Liz, Martin and Danny! It was also great to catch up with other good friends who I haven’t seen in years. I hope to see you all again soon!