North of Dorrigo, on a forlorn drive along a dirt road, we rolled past two what-were-once-towns based on timber mills. Briggsvale hove into view first and we stopped, Lorraine pointing out what used to be before we moved on to Cascade where she was born and raised. Both villages, for that is all they are these days, three houses and four residents each, are the last remnants of a once vibrant timber milling industry.
It was hard to believe that the railway used to pass through here.
The now abandoned stations, such as they were, are now overgrown, as clearly shown in the pictures and a potential savior in the form of the Dorrigo railway fell apart about 30 years ago.
Most of the area is national park these days and visitors are few though you can take the through road and end up at Coffs Harbour if you just want a drive by.
It had been raining; lord knows, for weeks. Flooding rains across the coast of Queensland and N.S.W. Most people see only misery; I immediately think of two things, waterfalls and fungi. How happy was I when my partner Lorraine suggested we head to Dorrigo after the road opened on the first day when hardly any rain fell.
We got our shots, sometimes going off piste, on the most popular walk at Dorrigo Rainforest Centre, the Wonga Walk loop encompassing Crystal Shower and Tristania Falls. It takes about 2 1/2 hours; took us nearly five with all the pictures we were taking.
The track is all sealed bar about 100 metres and the walking easy. Best way is to go via Tristania first then the uphill section is easier.
"We moved on up the climb though I sidetracked down to a streamlet that gurgled attractively enough to lure me to its cool splashing waters, drooping ferns and decaying branches. It wasn’t a permanent stream but it was nice when it did run.
It sits at the bottom of the granite outcrop called Woolpack Rocks and the trail immediately begins its uphill transition though it takes less than ten minutes to ascend the trail, at times through narrow clefts and up ladders.
On high it’s a different world. The vegetation is negligible; it’s the rocks and their endless variety of shapes that grab your attention. On the exposed portions the wind was noticeable, its cooling effect in contrast to the sweat I had exuded on the climb. There was no life save for an eagle that appeared and soared around the outcrop on the updraft, eyes keenly focused for the possible movement of prey below, its tufted wingtips flexing in the breeze.
Your mind starts to drift in places like this. Life’s problems take on a different dimension; the vastness of the continent is clearly visible from on high; there’s time for reflection as you recharge your mind.
After about 45 minutes on top it was time to leave, but the memory lingers still of another place in Australia’s wilderness where the scars of time are there to be seen yet, somehow, the granite seems timeless."
To visit Woolpack Rocks you travel on the Ebor-Guyra Road before turning off onto the road to Native Dog Creek Rest Area. There are both camping and picnic sites at the rest area, fees apply.
The following is from my first trip to the walk:
"It had rained; lord it had rained. The portents in the form of thunder had been around for hours before it finally arrived but arrive it did, some time in the middle of the night.
I awoke about 4 a.m. and wondered if I’d be able to drive off the area I was in at, wait for it, the local cemetery. Though the rain was heavy and noisy I wasn’t bothered by neighbours.
I later learned from a guy who stayed at the local caravan park just a few hundred metres away that he’d had to slosh around in mud. Me, I had the grassiest field in all of Dorrigo.
Still, it looked like my mooted walk to Woolpack Rocks, a place I’d never seen before, was in serious jeopardy. I’d been to Cathedral Rocks twice before but Woolpack had eluded me. I stayed awake and watched the European football featuring yet some more Messi magic before I had my bowl of Weetbix just as the heavens took pity on me.
The sun was desperately trying to shine and push the clouds away and it eventually succeeded, thus opening the door to the day’s expedition. Dorrigo was where I had a cup of hot chocolate, meeting the Argentinean with the exotic bike collection and a wealth of life knowledge that he was only too happy to dispense to you, whether you wanted to hear it or not. Why his life had led him so far away to a secluded village atop the Great Dividing Range would be a story I had not enough time for so I headed off as soon as I’d downed the beverage.
At the start of the walk I met up with Julie and her son Dylan, both of whom were familiar with a bushwalking site I was on and we walked off together through the bush and swamp land that alternated until we started to climb and it was here we came across two National Parks workers, one of whom had taken the famous photographs of Ebor Falls when they had iced up completely a few years ago. The pictures made the front page of all the local papers, with good reason, as the event is an extreme rarity."
Dairy farms have always been a part of the scene here due to the high rainfall producing verdant pasture so there'll always be a rural component to the area.
The lush green rolling hills are something I always remember about Dorrigo and in these pictures I hope it gives you some idea of why I like just simply driving around the area.
Most of these were taken on the highway heading west of Dorrigo.
There are a few loops roads around Dorrigo and they take you past some picturesque rural scenery to say the least. Rolling fertile hills with cows grazing contentedly make for pleasant viewing at the worst of times and here is no exception.
These are some shots I took on a short loop road, only about 8kms or so.
To get shots like these of Rosewood River you'll definitely be heading off the beaten path. In fact, you may well be treading on places where no man has ever set foot before.
You'll suffer from wait-a-while vines, slippery footing and tight situations but, the results, for me, are worth it. I hope you agree.
All these are taken about 2 kilometres above Cedar Falls.
Just off the main road in Dorigo you will find the unusual and beautiful furniture shop. The entry is marked by this wonderful carved wooden image. It says in a way that if you think this is amazing you haven't seen anything! Go inside and marvel at the works of these artists that create not only functional furniture of high quality but also the most unusual pieces of art to be found anywhere.