We left Ezzy’s Crossing and stopped Visitor Centre at Warialda, and the lady there suggested we head to Crank Rock before heading to Kwiambal National Park. I had seen the Cranky Rock pamphlet but given how dry it was we weren’t really expecting to see any water, however the VC lady indicated the water is spring fed so there is usually water there. This changed our minds and off to Cranky Rock we headed.
Cranky Rock turn off is About 5km east of Warialda, off the Gwydir Highway, the 3 km sealed road will take you all the way to Cranky Rock where you will find a jumble of giant boulders heaped in the most fantastic positions by a past volcanic upheaval, features include a suspension bridge, a viewing platform and short walking tracks. The facilities include picnic areas, a large shelter with free barbecues, public toilets and a children’s playground. There is a full time caretaker and kiosk on site if want to stay overnight or even longer there is a campground with powered/unpowered sites and hot showers available.
The name Cranky Rock was derived from an old legend which said that an old ‘Cranky Chinaman’ jumped to his death from the highest point of the balancing rocks after being accused of some wrong doing.
Cranky Rock is definitely worth a quick or a long stop if you’re out that way.
Kwiambal National Park
Kwiambal NP is located about 30 km from the town of Ashford (about 50km north of Inverell). The Severn River and Macintyre River both flow through and finally converge in the park below the MacIntyre falls.
Gorges, caves and waterholes are only a few of the surprises of Kwiambal National Park. The facilities in the park are brilliant. Each of the areas have covered seated areas, toilets and other than the cave there are free BBQs again undercover. The campgrounds have free firewood (when its available) and Lemontree had a small covered basic camp kitchen like area.
This is one of those places you almost don’t want to share its that good, because as soon as you do, y’all are going to want to go there !!!! (And you should it’s brilliant).
As you first enter the park, you reach the Ashford/Limestone Caves.
From 1916 to 1967, at least 3 of the Ashford Caves were sporadically mined for their phosphate -rich bat droppings (guano) which was used as fertiliser. The current entry to Ashford Main Cave is actually the result of an excavation of 1-2 metres of guano from the cave floor and then tunnelling through the bedrock.
Ashford Main Cave is horizontal in form, allowing easy access for visitors, outside of the summer bat-maternity season. During this period, when thousands of threatened species of bats use the caves as a birthing site, access is limited as disturbance can result in the abandonment and mortality of infant bats.
Ashford Caves occurs on the northern edge of a limestone outcrop, which stretches for 10 kilometres along Limestone Creek.
Once inside the cave you are going to want to have a torch as it gets pretty dark pretty quick! There are a few larger main cavities that you can walk through quite easily however as you go in further the roof level lowers and whilst you could see some had opted for exploring the smaller (ie crawl through) cavities we were happy to stay standing LOL
The walk is really easy, there is a small incline and a few steps when you first leave the parking lot but otherwise its flat and pretty smooth going.
Lemontree Flat Campground
From the cave we made our way to Lemontree Flat Campground, the bigger of the two campgrounds in the park. With the camper up, we had a bite to eat under the shade of the trees and had a bit of a chat to Mr Friendly Skippy who I’m quite sure would have happily let me pat him and hand feed him had i been inclined. It was pretty clear this little guy knew we were a source of food, thankfully the others we saw weren’t quite as comfortable with us and stayed their distance.
As cute as it is dont feed the animals people, its for their own good and for our own safety in some cases particularly the little ones, even the size of these little guys they could do some serious damage if they were frightened or felt threatened.
After a bite to eat we decided to go and check out the other campground before heading to the falls.
Kookabitta is a smaller campground with about maybe 8 sites. There are tables and firepits, drop toilets and an undercover BBQ area. The view of the river is much clearer and its easier to access than at Lemontree.
From Kookabitta we headed to Macintrye Falls where there are few walks and views of the gorge below.
There are two lookouts at the Falls area.
We headed down the track along the Rock Pool Walk which takes you down to the water hole you can see from the first lookout.
The little waterfall was running when we were there, and i can only imagine how spectacular it would be after rain!
We headed back to camp for a nice relaxing afternoon in the shade – well that was the original plan. When we got back to camp i saw the sign for the Dungeon Walk and we decided that we were already in walking mode we may as well keep going.
The Dungeon Walk
The dungeon walk. Hmm. This is one of those funnier after the fact stories. We had downloaded the NSW National Parks app which allows you to download info for offline use, which is great as there is very limited phone service in the park, however we hit a small fault with this walk. There was little info about the walk and a picture showed the walk sign – 1km walk via the Junction Walk. Now Junction Walk track left the campground not far from our campsite, so i thought perfect, a small little lookout walk to end the afternoon.
We jumped on and off the track to check out/try to find the river and look at the flood debris that was around the area.
The track was very well maintained and has markers along the trail so you know where the path is and was free from debris, but beware of the little cactus that jump out of nowhere onto you – those suckers hurt and are a pain to get rid of, i was pulling teeny tiny thorns out of my leg and fingers for quite sometime.
After a little while, we were like this is a very long 1km walk and we aren’t anywhere near a high point for a lookout. We started to doubt this was actually a 1km walk and started to wonder if in fact the lookout was a detour off the Junction Track which was about 7km round trip, which we weren’t looking for at this time of day.
We opted to walk for another 20 mins and if we didn’t see/find anything we would turn around and head back to camp, before sunset. Right on the 20 minutes mark we started to climb and found a pretty awesome view.
The Severn River has huge granite slabs on its edges, some with scars from being ground down under the pressure of flooding water mixed with gravel.
We also managed a little bit of signal to access – yep you guessed Google Maps – which showed where we were on the track and sure enough the Dungeon Lookout was still a good 1km away. Given we’d come this far already we decided to push on.
The Dungeon lookout is a great spot to view the Severn rushing through a deep river gorge with steep granite walls and cascades. This is a relatively easy walk, but keep an eye on the kids as the track contours along the cliff line at some spots. We even saw a few little billy goats. Interesting (or maybe not), as goats are not natural to the park area, NPS have an action plan to rid the park of the wild goats by tagging and releasing one goat then tracking it down once it joins an established herd, which means they can capture a bigger herd – a silent assassion goat – cant say we’ve heard of this method before!
As we hit the crest leading out to Dungeon Lookout we were met with a few different signs – no wonder we are confused lol.
The view from the lookout is pretty impressive and well worth the walk.
With sunset looming, we decided to just backtrack the way we had come up and head back to camp.
We arrived back at camp just before sunset and in time to get the fire stoked up – our first one for this trip, so Tash was a happy camper.