So glad I didn't have my motorhome driving out of here. It was a tad rugged after the relatively easy trip in from the eastern end to access Werrikimbee. Coming off the hills to the valley floor the road, at times, was rent by water and erosion scars in places needed a fair bit of caution to negotiate (meaning I had to slow to about 50kph).
Eventually I reached the valley and came to a T-intersection where I was able to ask some local for directions (pic 2)
Fondest memory: When I arrived at the sign I opted to turn right, just out of curiousity. What a superb drive. I only went about 5 kilometres but it was so pretty I was entranced. Madly racing about with my camera I snapped off a couple of dozen shots.
I hope you enjoy them.
When I finally did a U-turn I linked up with the highway that connects Port Macquarie with Tamworth.
Werrikimbe National Park lies about an hour north west from Comboyne. If you don't like dirt roads, don't go. There's a lot of them.
Initially you can either go in through Beechwood or turn off near Yarras on the Oxley Highway, the latter offers more tar but the dirt in from there is often worse, as was the case on my last trip in though I did a loop, coming in through Beechwood and out through Yarras.
It was a near perfect spring day and I had the whole place to myself. Since I'd thoughtfully (not) left my map at home, I was winging it somewhat though I had been there before some years ago.
I knew Plateau Beech offered an excellent walk but I thought I'd try somewhere else first. I followed a sign to Banda Banda. Mistake. After about 2kms the road intersected without any indication as to what track led where. I chose the left option. Mistake number 2. You really couldn't call it a road.
After all, when there's moss where you'd normally expect tyre tracks, leaf laden branches start flicking you in the face through your driver's side window and the vegetation between the tracks is higher than your sump, you can fairly assume that this is a road less travelled.
I chickened out and returned to the Brushy Mountain area.
The first picture shows King Fern Falls
Fondest memory: Since the walks at Brushy were too long (pic 4) for the amount of time I had, I headed down the road to Plateau Beech. This is a bush camp area with toilets and a covered area with bench seating where you can eat. It also has a wonderful rainforest walk.
It was just before midday when I embarked and head off along the track to the first waterfall.
As you can see, ferns figure prominently once you get on the trail though the most common trees are Antarctic Beech (sometimes called Negrohead Beech), Coachwood, Prickly Ash, Sassafras and Corkwood.
The backlighting that occurs through shafts of light penetrating the forest canopy (pic 3) makes the place look surreal but can be extremely difficult to recapture in photographs, as you may note.
Just 800 metres from the carpark you come to King Fern Falls. This delightful creek makes its way through moss laden giants, many of which have fallen, and drops in various sized steps down the fall line of the stream.
All these shots are of the falls, the ones taken at the base are from an area that is a bit tricky to get to and involves scrambling down a rocky scree slope covered with all sorts of dead and alive vegetation. Not for the faint hearted or frail of foot!
"Please enter the single most important activity or site you would take someone, if they had never been to Comboyne before"
Ellenborough Falls. Touristy, by Australian bush standards, it nonetheless delivers on impact, scenic beauty and convenience of access.
Here I am escorting 3 people from the Czech Republic, two of them on their third day in Australia, to the most publicized attraction in the area just a couple of kilometres down the road from Elands.
Fondest memory: One of Australia's biggest single drops (160 metres), it has worn away a dramatic canyon which is readily viewed from the platforms provided or, for those of you like me who like to walk, there's a wooden walkway that doubles as an engineering marvel leading to the base of the falls.
One thing you can't avoid seeing up here is trees. Lots of trees. Lots of really big trees. In fact, not too far away is the largest tree in N.S.W.
Though this is far from the biggest it gives you some idea of what an average tree looks like around here. Invariably straight in response to the need for light and the abundance of water in places it's like walking through a cathedral.
It's your interest in nature that will take you to Comboyne but not all the pretty things are indigenous.
Scotch Thistle, for example, is an introduced pest. At times it covers rich farmland in a matter of weeks due to the favourable conditions.
Sometimes though, if you take time out and stop to have a look, it has its pretty side. I hope you agree this is one such instance.
The scenery is wonderful; on any day, wherever you look, the optic nerves will be pleased.
Fondest memory: After you clear the forest on your way down you arrive at cleared farms and paddocks which are pretty in their own way. Pretty just doesn't do this drive justice.
The rolling hills, the volcanic plugs, the verdant fields, the lack of people. Soooo refreshing.
There are four main ways into Comboyne. If you want a sealed road all the way then come in via Wauchope; almost all sealed then you can come in via Kew; fair bit of dirt you could come in via Wingham but, my favourite way is up the Landsdowne (then Upper Landsdowne) Road.
Fondest memory: Though driving down the road on a crisp morning is the best time and direction, any time this is one of the prettiest drives in Australia. However, be warned, if you don't like narrow dirt roads you shouldn't be on this one.
The plus side is that this means not a lot of people, other than the locals, use this road. The forest and the occasional views through the trees are sublime and will leave you wishing that you didn't have to leave the place.
The flooded gums are the most dramatic vegetation, other the the vines and, if you leave your windows down you will hear the sounds of birds all the way.
They're beside you on the road, they're everywhere in the forest, they enchant and delight and they're largely unspoilt.
Some you can frolic and swim in, others you can drink from, all you can enjoy if only you get out of your car and walk.
I'm talking about stream and waterfalls and , at Comboyne, abundant is the word.
Fondest memory: Finding a new stream, untracked, and exploring it over the next three years.
This shot is from one of the streamlets that comes into it from the side.
It leads to a larger creek that, when you work your way upstream about half a kilometre, has a neat waterfall with about a 20 metre drop. Should you get there I can guarantee you one thing - you'll be alone! Truly communing with nature.
The scenery is simply some of the best in Australia.
Fondest memory: So there we were, riding in the chopper over those wonderful rolling hills with their dairy cattle, snapping pictures, fast forwarding over the cliff edge into a U-shaped canyon with two falls cascading over the ridge.
10 days later, on take-off, the chopper tilted, the blade dug into the ground and it cartwheeled into a nearby garage, making a mess of the garage awning and a four wheel drive that had just filled up with petrol(imagine what he had to write for the insurance claim!).
Fortunately, no-one was seriously hurt but the chopper was written off.