Members Trips

Scenic Rim Wander


scenic rim wander
off the beaten track
by Rob Sanderson

flowering jacarandas at Heifer Creek

We love wandering with our Jeep Wrangler & camper trailer, mainly down the back roads & 4wd tracks, not knowing where we will be camping each night, but with a general idea of the direction we are ultimately travelling in. Before leaving home research is done for possible routes using paper maps, digital maps on the computer as well as internet sources like Google Earth, Where is etc.

Campsites are considered using WikiCamps, which I have downloaded onto my computer, the Camps Australia Wide book & other publications & web sources. Many years of collecting national parks & state forest information handouts as well as the handy Cartoscope touring maps, show places of interest & are a great asset to pre-trip planning. Best of all you cannot go past helpful local knowledge to find those out of the way campsites or the personal knowledge of those who have gone before.

onto the back roads

We drove up the coast from Newcastle & finally got off the highway at Coffs Harbour onto the Orara Way, a quieter back road that runs parallel to the busy Pacific Highway, where we stay overnight at the Recreation Reserve in Glenreagh. Shannon Park next to the Orara River is one of our favourite cuppa stops when we are passing through. 




Glenreagh showground Orara River at Shannon Park flooded gums

We continue along the Orara Way to Grafton & head to Copmanhurst where our trip really begins, following the Clarence River up to the Queensland border mostly along the Clarence Way but with a few deviations. The majority of camping here is on private property so local knowledge is the best source. We spend a couple of days in two different camps for a change of scenery, entertained by the various honey eating birds feeding on the flowers of the weeping bottle brush that line the river banks.




Clarence River camp still morning on the Clarence low level bridge



friar bird blue-face honeyeater scarlet honeyeater

We hit the Bruxner Highway & headed to Tabulam & top up the fuel tank. We had planned on taking the dirt road though the Richmond Range National Park, however the dry weather only road had a sticky surface after a few days of rain, so we turned around & back tracked a kilometre or two to the Urbenville road getting onto the dirt just before Bonalbo.

It was a nice drive through the rainforest with a couple of steep creek crossings to Peacock Creek camping area in the Richmond Range National Park. There was plenty of bird life around as we had lunch, but decided to keep going to the next camp.  




rainforest creek blue wren satin bowerbird

We travelled along bush tracks past Toonumbar Dam to Iron Pot Creek camping area in Toonumbar National Park. The camping area is not very camper trailer friendly with each campsite surrounded by bollards, however we managed to set up the camper trailer in a wider parking bay, still allowing any traffic to drive past. The whole camping area is enveloped in rainforest with native ginger as the prominent understorey plant. It is on the list for a return visit.


plenty of room, but not for camper rainforest eastern robin


Our intended route had a road closed sign & locked gate owing to a land slip, so it was a longer round trip to Woodenbong via Kyogle with morning tea in the park.

We were lucky enough to get a glimpse of a yowie in Woodenbong. It was a smelly creature & looked very scary, so we did not approach. Imagine coming across that in the dark.

An opportunity to get fresh bread & milk.




Continuing west along the Mount Lindsay Highway we turned off at Old Loreelah for Koreelah National Park. There are several large open grassy sites with plenty of trees for shade in summer. Not far from camp there is a walking trail to a waterfall & a good looking swimming hole.




spacious campsites broad-leafed apple waterfall


Barney Bluff late afternoon walk

over the border

The next morning we drove up Head Gate Road & through an old border gate into Queensland. There was a long steep climb to a magnificent view at Carrs Lookout which looks out over the Condamine River & the head of the Murray/Darling Basin.



Wilsons Peak Carrs Lookout

Not far down the road from the lookout is a short walk to the forty metre high Queen Mary Falls. It would be great to see the falls after heavy rain. A little further along the road is Daggs Falls which has a viewing platform built out over the cliff face.




Queen Mary Falls Queen Mary Falls Daggs Falls

Just before Killarney we hit the dirt once again through the Condamine River Gorge. It is part of the Bicentennial National Trail & has fourteen unformed gravel creek crossings, the bottoms of which range from fine gravel to larger rocks. The scenery in the narrow gorge is dramatic with rugged rocky bluffs towering overhead & pockets of lush rainforest filling the numerous side gullies. The gorge road is only open on weekends to public traffic.




river crossing river crossing look out for cows

Keeping to the back roads we drove to the Main Range National Park with an overnighter at Spicers Gap camping area. We could hear the trucks labouring up through Cunninghams Gap some distance away.



towards Main Range Spicers Gap
Next morning we drove to Cunninghams Gap & stopped for a short rainforest walk in the national park. The trees were filled with birdsnest ferns & staghorn ferns. A welcome morning tea was had after the walk.



birdsnest ferns staghorn walking trail

We exit the Cunningham Highway as soon as we can onto the Goomburra road & then the Gatton-Clifton Road, staying at Heifer Creek on Ma Ma Creek for the night. This would have to be the most colourful camping area we have ever stayed at with both the Jacaranda & Silky Oaks in flower.




Heifer Creek jacaranda silky oak & jacaranda

After a bit of grocery shopping in Gatton we met up with Matt & Wendy where we have lunch at Helidon with a pair of Tawny Frogmouth chicks looking down at us. The town looked fantastic filled with colour from the flowering jacaranda trees.




shady park tawny frogmouths colourful streets

Once again we take to the back roads. By this stage the drinking water tank needs to be refilled & clothes washing to be done, so we stay the night in a caravan park at Crows Nest. There is a large grassy non-powered camping area out the back. We cannot believe the number of different birds around. In town we look at trading the Jeep up on a bullock team.




bullock team grassy sites Jeep sunset



crested pigeon willie wagtail galah



red-rumped parrot grey-crowned babbler grey-crowned babbler



apostlebird plumed whistling-duck royal spoonbill
The next day we drive out to Crows Nest National Park & do a short walk along Crows nest Creek to a waterfall.



walking trail crows nest creek bottlebrush pool

Continuing along the back roads we get a view of Lake Cressbrook & drive past a stand of tall grasstrees, spending the night at Cooyar.



lake cressbrook grasstrees

There is a free camping area in the spacious Swinging Bridge Park at Cooyar with large scattered trees for shade. The amenities are a short walk in the park over in the next street. Even though the suspension bridge has guide ropes it gets a good sway up walking across. Lucky the pub is on the same side.




swinging bridge drovers rest pub dollar bird



forest kingfisher kookaburra black-faced cuckoo-shrike



pale-headed rosella thunderstorm clouds forest kingfisher

It took 100 men thirteen months to hand dig the Muntapa Tunnel in 1913. The tunnel was built to support the development of small-scale agriculture in the area and to provide Toowoomba & the Darling Downs with access to timber reserves at Blackbutt & Nanango. It is the only tunnel in Queensland that crosses the summit of the Great Dividing Range. The formed concrete tunnel is 280 metre long with cuttings at each end. At the north eastern end the cutting extends about 38 metres from the entrance, while at the south western end it curves towards the south and extends about 150 metres. There are steel fences inside the tunnel to protect the colony of bats.

The workers lived with their wives & families during the tunnel construction. The remains of the camp can still be seen, including the stumps of the school, stumps for flooring of tents & brickwork of the bakery.  




rail tunnel tent floor stumps remains of bakery


The Palms National Park is about ten kilometres from Cooyar near Toowoomba Qld & comprises of two sections. The south western section was created in 1950 from several blocks of land. In 1927 Charles Boldery donated five acres of his 318 acre property to the Rosalie Shire Council so the rainforest pocket would be protected & people could visit & enjoy the natural beauty.




picabeen palms picabeen palms picabeen palms

We followed the new England Highway to the end at Yarraman & then veered north along the Burnett Highway to Nanango where we spent the night in the free camp at the local park. Next morning we continued on the back roads over the Brisbane Range & followed the Brisbane River to Linville where we had a rest stop at the Linville pub.



scorpion brisbane river valley



glory days lemonade & ice cream railway station

From Linville it was down to Clancys Creek camping area in the Benarkin State Forest where the Australian CamperTrailers 'Remembering Neil' weekend was being held. Setting up in 35 degree heat was no fun. We attached the awning walls supported by poles to provide extra shade which also allows any cooling breeze to flow underneath. Afternoon thunderstorm clouds began to develop & by late afternoon the heavens opened. Matt was surprised to see his rain gauge showed 80mm of Queensland's liquid sunshine had fallen. You can't trust mates with a good sense of humour.

The next morning was fine & cooler after the rain. The creek which had no water the previous day was now flowing. Afternoon happy hour was held in honour of our mate Neil with clouds once again threatening the evening.




shady camp threatening sky it rained



& rained liquid sunshine sunny start



flowing creek happy hour might miss us

the road home

We now start the return leg of our trip, south again with Matt & Wendy and Lindsay & Robyn, driving through Moore & stopping at Esk for supplies & lunch. We continue down through Laidley, Rosewood & pause at Cunningham's Lookout near Warrill View.




nearly our place travelling companions cunninghams lookout


cunninghams lookout border ranges national park

Down the back roads to Boonah & Rathdowny with breathtaking views of the Main Range National Park where we had camped only a couple of weeks before. That part of our trip seemed like a long time ago now.



main range national park

Finally arriving at Andrew Drynan Park on the Lions Road near Kyogle for a couple of days to explore around the camping area.



Andrew Drynan Park

morning stillness



morning camp sunset glow



kookaburra feeding young kookaburra little corella



yellow-tailed black cockatoos feeding young galah



rainforest pocket stinging tree rainforest pocket



  Running Creek  

We say goodbye to our travelling companions & drove down to Grafton along the Summerland Way where we end up getting a little lost around the streets looking at the jacarandas in flower, but find ourselves driving through a street lined with huge fig trees - a bonus.




jacaranda trees fig trees fig trees

Back down the Orara Way to Coffs Harbour & an overnighter at Gumma Reserve near Macksville, one of our favourite camps.



beside warrell creek in gumma reserve warrell creek



cabbage tree palms paperbark forest swamp lily



swamp lily flower swamp oak/paperbark forest flowering mistletoe

 photos Rob & Carol


november 2015