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NYMBOI BINDERAY ... northern nsw

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

30 million years ago an ancient volcano located just near Dorrigo gave an almighty push from the realms of our great earth, and because of this we have some great 4wding and destinations to explore on the NSW north coast.

A favourite to the locals is the Nymboi - Binderay National park located 60km west of Coffs Harbour. This National Park is full of history, activities, 4wding and has some great camping options. Although it isn’t 4000 km out the back of whoop whoop it is a remote area with no phone service, very limited traffic, no services all within some deep gorge country.

From Coffs head west through Coramba where this sleepy old town dates back to the turn of the century when gold was the talk of the area. As you pass through Coramba take the left turn which is named "Eastern Dorrigo Way''. This 15 kilometre sealed road starts to wind its way up onto the top of the great diving range, through stands of massive old ghost gums, stunning rainforest pockets and tree ferns that line the road looking for some sunlight.

Because it's not a fast road, wind down a window and listen to the Whipbirds and smell the fresh crisp air as you pass under the canopies of the forest. Theres a couple of spots to stop and admire the view back towards the coast and down into some steep timbered country where gold was found over 100 years ago.

Further along you’ll pass several communities such as Lowanna and Ulong. These two towns were linked by a rail system over 100 years ago when gold and timber was the number one commodity. At Lowanna stop and explore the restored station and gear around the grounds.

Ulong is a bustling community all centred around the Ulong PO Cafe where not only you’ll get some of the best food in the area but the owners are happy to share local info on where to find waterfalls, camping spots and so much more.

Passing Ulong the road turns left to Dorrigo, here you need to go straight ahead onto the dirt. Farms dominate the country side for several kilometres before you cross the Bobo River. To your left is a huge metal bridge that spans the river but hasn't seen a train on it for over 40 years.

Part of the old Dorrigo to Glenreagh ( GMR ) rail line there were 13 sidings, two long tunnels and other infrastructure along its tracks back in the day, servicing the hinterland to the coast.

The next few kilometres will see you wind through pine and timber plantations, that are constantly being logged then re-planted. So just be aware of the warning signs.

The next town you’ll enter will be Cascade, and at the turn of the century it was alive with huge log camps, school, shops and the railway had a dozen sidings.

Today there’s not much left, a few old houses and relics where you can explore Cascade Heritage Trail and the old Case Mill. It operated during World War II, from 1939 to 1945, sawing rainforest timbers for ammunition cases. You can walk amongst huge old boilers, steam equipment, touch the old wheels and case press then ponder how life was 100 years ago.

Unfortunately a few years ago a local movie was made in the area using the mill as a backdrop and it was burnt to the ground in the final scene, never to be rebuilt. Parts of the old Case Mill still stand but is slowly decaying into the ground and being overgrown with lantana and wild vines. Across the road from the mill is the old Cascade siding, which was once part of the GMR with a single shed and a concrete sign.

There are several walks around Cascade that meander through amazing rainforest pockets, down past the old railway and you get to see first hand the size of massive red cedar, and hardwood trees that were hand cut with axes and crosscut saws.

Leaving Cascade along Moses Rock Road, the vegetation changes to thick overgrown scrubby country. Most of it has was logged in the 80's and is coming back with avengence, with towering ghost gums, ironbark and blackbutt timbers all fighting for the sunlight. A popular spot to stop is Mobong Creek picnic area, where a small water fall cascades into a large pool near the road. The rickety timber bridge takes you to a grassed area where the kids can let some steam off and if it is warm jump in the water.

Its not far from here that a well sign posted turn points you to down to Platypus Flats camping area along Cedar Forest Road.

Keep an eye out for the Tramway Walking Track, this is a must do on the day. It will lead you on an amazing 800 metre walk around an old mill site and living area. The construction of this 90cm gauge line began in 1925 and was used for the gathering of timber for the local market. It was an amazing system where the logged trees were slung high above the ground using a sling system with a mile of steel cable, that ran through pulleys and connected to a main 90 foot high pole ( that had to be greased daily ). The logs were then slung around and put upon the rail trollies to be taken away to the mill. As you walk the loop it is still possible to see hand cut sleepers, the winch platform, building foundations and bridge timbers across the creek. This walk is enviro friendly for the whole family reasonably flat and sign posted.

Back in the car heading further west we soon find ourselves heading down hill, and this is a clear indication that it is gorge country, timber starts too thin out, old Xanthorrhoea plants appear and the rainforest seems to have dried up.

Indicating right at the Platypus Flat sign, this final drop down to the river is a welcome sight where there are several options, wether it be for an overnight stay or for the day trippers it's all been segmented off. The campers are well looked after up in the far end with a large area to park and setup.

Camping here is recommended year around, the winter months will get chilly but with an ample fire it wont take long to warm up. But being a National Park, collecting firewood within its boundaries is not allowed but wood is supplied.

Throughout the whole area there’s tables, pit bbqs, and a sheltered area with a free gas bbqs. No bins are provided here for the fact that the animals and birds would have a field day digging around in the rubbish. While swimming is pretty safe here be very aware of the submerged rocks and logs. Around dusk and dawn sit quietly away from the water and keep an eye out for a Platypus when they pop up to the surface.

Even for a day trip is pretty good where you can spend hours playing with the kids, exploring the river, or just lazing around reading a book soaking up the solitude, its an amazing place. The Nymbodia river is around 62 km long which runs along the Great Escarpment from the Dorrigo Plateau through granite gorges down towards Grafton. The first white man reported to of been here was escaped convict Richard Craig back in 1834, who lived with the Gumaynggirr aboriginal people. The name Nymboi is a locality and the name Bindary means river a name which has a true meaning today.

Nymboi has three camping options. Platypus Flats which is the most popular option with campers, day trippers and white water rafters. The Cod hole is further down stream as is The Junction where you need 4wd to access due to the steep terrain.

For an added adventure head to Dorrigo from Platypus Flats for a drive through stunning old growth forests and along the way keep an eye out for the old logger trees where you’ll see the cut outs for their standing boards. At the top of the plateau take a left towards the Norm Jolly Memorial Grove ( all signed posted ).

Here you’ll be blown away from the monster 800 year old Tallowwood trees that are being preserved for the future. Theres a nature walk that meanders around these magnificent trees, stunning tree ferns and rainforest. It’s a magical area to spend time where you can have a cuppa and get lost with nature.

Dorrigo and its old world charm isn’t far away surrounded by world heritage forests and stunning waterfalls.

So you can make this a fast track day just to laze around the river, or explore everything the area has to offer camping beside the river. There is something along here for everyone.

Whats more important- ''The journey or destination ?”.

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