New England Range Off The Beaten Path

  • Draining Rock
    Draining Rock
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  • Photographers delight
    Photographers delight
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  • Afternoon sun on the granite
    Afternoon sun on the granite
    by iandsmith

Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in New England Range

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    Tourist Drive number 9

    by iandsmith Updated Feb 17, 2014

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    Draining Rock
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    This most interesting drive (get your map from the Tenterfield Tourist Information Centre) takes takes about half an hour...........if you don't stop to take photos! If you do, then it could be anything up to half a day. It's been named Granite Drive but it is still half dirt and definitely not a road for those who prefer all bitumen.
    This trip richly rewards the shutterbug with natural scenery and rustic wrecks.
    Shown here is the second largest lump of exposed granite in Australia named Draining Rock, I assume due to the many colours striped across its face.
    For more pics and details, see my Tenterfield pages.

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    Henry Falls, arriving

    by iandsmith Updated Dec 10, 2007
    Reflections of the falls
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    Henry Falls represent one of the, in my opinion, misguided directions that the National Parks and Wildlife have taken. Decisions made by people who, most often, haven't even visited places they're making decisions about leave those who have been there wondering just what the thought processes are.
    Henry Falls comes into this category. Locals don't want the place "locked up", they would prefer easier access to great spots like this.
    The rejoinder that people should only be allowed to walk in there is, again in my opinion, ridiculous, as even with a dirt road into sites like this, there would not be hordes of people tramping around and the locals, who for decades go to places such as this for their recreation, would thus not be disadvantaged.
    Getting off my hobby horse, the walk back to Henry Falls was full of anticipation. Water was flowing freely after years of drought so I was optimistic and with good reason. Though not a flood there was certainly enough going over to make a significant noise which added to the atmosphere.
    The shots here are obviously from different angles and give you a good idea of just what the area is like.

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    Henry Falls, getting there

    by iandsmith Written Dec 10, 2007
    Trevor showing the way
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    We eventually parked in the middle of a paddock and were fairly obviously near the falls as you could ascertain there was a canyon not too far away.
    Trevor alighted and led the way down a steep spur which is really the only access route to the falls.
    It's rugged country and jagged rocks jut from every wall you can see.
    One surprise that confronted me was a trio of feral goats. I'd expect them further west out on the plains but here they were making serious inroads as well. Yet another example of how feral animals are taking over Australia.
    We went downstream for a while before returning beside the rocky cliffs which led to our goal.

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    Henry Falls

    by iandsmith Written Dec 10, 2007
    en route
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    "Have you ever seen Henry Falls?"
    The question stopped me. I'd heard of most of the better known cascades but this one had obviously missed my radar.
    "No, how do I get there?"
    "If you're around on Monday I could take you," said the ranger.
    "Pencil me in, I'm up for that."
    As it turned out, I parked my motorhome at his place on the Sunday night and took advantage of some country hospitality before we made our way through various parts of private property before coming, amazingly, to a sign. You would have needed a blacktracker to find your way this far and, yet, there was this sign in the middle of nowhere, albeit somewhat faded.
    Still, my host Trevor knew exactly where he was going and said it had been there for years and dated back to the time when the Forestry people had an interest in the land.

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    The day of the Dollar Bird

    by iandsmith Written Nov 15, 2006

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    Dollar birds
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    "It's my favourite bird," Mike said with passion.
    "Really, never heard of it," was my uninformed reply.
    "Look, I'll take you out in the paddock, there might be something out there."
    So we ventured across the swollen stream, flowing as it hadn't for a year or so, and he dropped me off half a kilometre south of the homestead.
    For the next hour I couldn't stop taking photographs and being constantly amazed at how much beauty there is on the planet. If only we could drag ourselves (me included) away from the computer a little more and enjoy.
    I spied these two birds as they were flying, a brilliant blue circle on the underside of their wings made me think they were something special. I didn't realise they were the birds of which Mike had spoken.
    Mike and Anne Thackway run a farm stay I frequent in the Uralla/Armidale area and they are fervent in their commitment to the environment and landcare, something that most property owners are, though sadly not all.
    I watched not only these birds, the only species of the roller family to reach Australia, but several others as well. They weren't easy to photograph but a blind would prove very fruitful here one suspects.
    Still, in addition to the birds I took some lovely landscapes that day (pics 2-5) and had a thoroughly wonderful time just being there.

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    A walk in the park

    by iandsmith Updated Sep 18, 2006

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    I've heard he might be free

    When you get to Dangars Falls to do your tourist thing, you may well stop and view the explanatory trail map that the National Parks and Wildlife Service have put on a display board, along with lots of other interesting information. This map will indicate there are more things to see than simply one set of falls, though the majority of tourists will never use the other trails.
    Fortunately for me, work takes me up in the area rather frequently and, especially when daylight saving is in operation, allows me time to do other things.
    One of the things I'd always wanted to do was to go to the end of the trail to Salisbury Waters, a name that sounded enticing to me.
    The following is what happened on that day.
    The opening shot of a Monarch butterfly I took just 500 metres from the carpark.

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    The wonders of nature

    by iandsmith Updated Aug 4, 2006

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    Salvaged from the undergrowth
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    After I rock hopped the river to get the reflective shots I had to make my way through the, at times, tangled undergrowth to regain the fence line and head back to the car. While I was doing this a small flash of orange caught my eye. It didn't seem much but I paused anyway and noted it was a colourful fungus, much brighter than the white one (see pic 2) that I had seen earlier.
    There were three attached to a rotting branch that was part buried in the grass and river sand. Since it was impossible to photograph them in situ I carefully lifted the branch free but, grass had actually grown through the fungus so I had to spend time withdrawing it to wrest the fungi from its binds. You can still see the holes where the grass had grown through if you look closely at the opening photograph.
    I thought that when the next minor flood came through, none of the three shots I took would be available anymore as all would be washed away with the current. In nature, as in life, nothing's permanent.

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    Manns River diversion

    by iandsmith Written Aug 4, 2006

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    Glassy sky with tree
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    There I was, en route to Glen Innes with a weather eye on the sky. Not for fear of anything that might thrust itself upon me but hoping for a sunset when I reached Manns River.
    Such beautiful reflections, such clear water. I turned around and pulled into the carpark adjacent to the river and scrambled down the slope.
    The river was abundant with photographic possibilities. The still surface was mana from heaven for the lens so I set about clicking my way through about two dozen shots. The opening shot here is my favourite because of the wonderful sky patterns reflected in the surface. A different angle on the same theme is in pic 3 and that has been preferred by some others I have shown but the first is definitely my pick.

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    Wild side (cont)

    by iandsmith Written Jul 19, 2006

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    The ruggedness of it all
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    I decided to chance my arm so to speak and went past the "Trail Closed" sign as often it's just so the more timid won't travel there and, also, in these days of occupational health and safety and hundreds of lawyers, there tends to be an overemphasis on safety.
    So I continued on, down the steep trail listed as a four hour return journey which, in National Parks parlance usually means you can do it in three. The distance isn't great, but the angles certainly are.
    You drift around towards one of the back gorges (pic 2), all the while aware of just how rugged the area is (pic 3).
    The fact that plants live here never ceases to amaze me, particularly in view of the paucity of soil. The prettiest often are the lichens when you look at them close up (pic 4).
    At the bottom there are metal stairs, not in pristine condition I should add, which is probably what National Parks were trying to warn people about.
    They were still quite usable but, when I finally reached the very base, my goal of being able to return upstream to get a view of the falls was never going to be realised from here. I would need a waterproof bag and have to ford the river a few times to get even close. Picture 5 and the opening frame will testify as to just how hard it is to get anywhere in this region. Both are personal favourites of mine and, if you blow up pic 5 you'll clearly see the reflections of the rocks.
    Still, I finally did a walk I'd wanted to do for years and it only took the three hours I suspected, even stopping to take 43 photos!
    Some advice, always take water with you and dress a little bit under what you think as, once you start hiking these canyons, the sweat is sure to follow.

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    Wild side (cont)

    by iandsmith Written Jul 19, 2006

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    Wollomombi Falls in drought time
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    The view from Chandler is expansive, especially in a vertical mode. This dramatic gorge, hundreds of metres deep, leaves an indelible memory on the mind. The stillness of the place and the distant, faint but clearly audible sound of water progressing its way through the canyon lends an aura familiar to those who tread the Australian bush.

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    Walk on the wild side

    by iandsmith Written Jul 19, 2006

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    Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

    I've seen this type of sign three times on my travels. Twice I've ignored them. This was one of those days.
    I'd gone to Wollomombi to get to the bottom of the falls. This is something few people have ever done but I've heard it is achieveable.
    Upon arrival on a day literally sprinkled with occasional drizzle I sussed the cliff faces out. There was nowhere that it was immediately apparent to me that you could get down and still be alive at the bottom. Thus it was that I opted for the conventional route to Chandler Gorge via the marked trail.
    Trouble was, when I got to Chandler Lookout, there was this sign in the way.
    (continued next page)

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    Imagine seeing this on your bushwalk!

    by iandsmith Updated Apr 28, 2005

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    All dressed up and nowhere to go

    Like some monster from a nightmarish past he appeared before me.............now, hang on a minute.
    Reality check - It had been raining heavily for half an hour while I ascended the steep climb from Salisbury. By the time I reached the top every part of my clothing was saturated, and I do mean totally.
    Cowering behind a gum tree praying for some respite was a situation I found myself in at one stage as I recuperated from the arduousness of the ascent fully aware that relief in any form was extremely unlikely.
    Thus it was that I decided to remove my shirt to prevent hypothermia when the storm clouds moved away after I'd moved another 2kms on the return journey. It was about five minutes after that decision that I reached this signpost. About 20 minutes later I reached some Japanese tourists. How scary must it have been for them! Imagine the Yowie stories they will relate to their friends back home over a bowl of sushi. Better than your average kangaroo sighting I'll wager.

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    Salisbury, at last

    by iandsmith Updated Apr 28, 2005

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    Salisbury at last

    For the first hour and a quarter, the terrain is midly undulating and presents no difficulty. You will see some kangaroos (eastern greys predominate) and some of them have become quite accustomed to humans and don't spook readily which is good if you want to take your first kangaroo pic. Be warned, grey on a dull background doesn't make for a good contrast!
    After the first five kilometres though, it starts to go downhill and, after another half a kilometre, starts to go downhill seriously. Unfortunately there are only about 15 steps for the next hour and, trust me, unless you are used to going down steep inclines, your legs will ache when you finally reach the bottom. Steps make this sort of trail much easier but, apart from one lot of 13, there were just one or two and it makes for hard walking with the rock-strewn trail demanding your attention at all times.
    Your lower legs will ache with the stretching imposed on them by the degree of slope but the severity of the strain will not become apparent until you reach the bottom. Mine were all but shaking from the tension. Until then you will be driven by the mental picture of what lays beyond. The mystery of the gorge.
    When you finally reach the bottom there are rewards. The crystal clear waters gurgling through the rounded granite, past green weed soon to be flushed downstream when the next good rains come along with with the banked up leaves and all around the echo of birdlife dances on the eucalypt boughs.
    The sandy beach provides soft comfort after the harshness of the trail and the shade of the leaves provides a welcome respite from the sun. The swimming holes beckon you to feel the cool mountain waters and let them flush your cares away.
    This then, is the Salisbury Waters experience.

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    Show me the way

    by iandsmith Updated Apr 28, 2005

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    A recently mobile echidna

    It was about the time I passed the turnoff to Sarum Lookout that I heard, then spotted, an echidna. If you wish to see one on your visit to Australia, this is probably one of the best places.
    I've never walked deep into here yet without seeing one and, the time before, I saw four of them. For one reason or another, these creatures fascinate me. They are a monotreme, one of only two in the world (the other is the platypus), egg-laying mammals from a branch of nature that time almost forgot.
    To get a picture of one you have to be patient as, when you get near them and they become aware of your presence (not that easy because they have poor eyesight), they tend to roll up into a ball or cower and bury their head somewhere. They actually sense you by ground vibration and sound.
    Thus it is that you then have to set yourself up in a comfortable position and wait until they start moving again, usually under five minutes time.
    Sarum Lookout, by the way, is another rarely visited spot and you can sit there on the chiselled rock and let your mind wander though it must be said that all the other lookouts offer better views.
    Some of the tree species you can expect to see are as follows:
    New England stringybark
    silvertop stringybark
    yellow box
    Hillgrove box
    apple box
    New England blackbutt
    Hillgrove spotted gum.
    Native broom and wild cherry are also common. The understorey is often sparse except for occasional wattles, blackthorn and grass trees. This allows you to easily spot the wildlife.

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    Time out for a sunset

    by iandsmith Written Apr 21, 2005

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    Another day gone

    Just 3kms north of Barraba on the Fossikers Way (locals call it Poverty Way) there's a turnoff onto Bundarra Road. A further kilometre up the road is a lookout named after Alfred Adams who purchased the 'Barraba Station' property in 1850. The lookout is located within the original landholding and offers panoramic views of Barraba and surrounding countryside. On the right day you might get a great sunset shot there. This was not such a day.
    Bundarra Road itself is an adventure. On the road in my path over the next 50 kilometres were cattle, deer, foxes and, of course, the ubiquitos kangaroo. Luckily for me I missed them all but it is a salient reminder to be cautious when driving from dusk onwards.

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