Somehow, i still really don’t know how, we were conned/convinced into camping at Lane Cove National Park, on the outskirts of Sydney on a long weekend, during the Festival of Vivid. I know we are crazy idiots, but booked we were and so on Friday afternoon after a late finish at work we did the crazy pre-trip madhouse runaround getting the entire house it seems jammed into the camper, and hitched on up.
We hit the freeway not too long before dusk, and we weren’t too far down the M1 before it started to rain. Two of my least favourite things when towing – dark and raining.
We arrived at the park – Lane Cove River Tourist Park – having made our way without any issues (thanks Google) about 7.30pm. The rest of the crew were already set up and onto their first drinks. The sites (and park actually) were much larger than we expected with lovely concrete pads and well maintained sites, making for an easy drive onto and unhitch situation, which was very welcome.
The two tall lads helped us fiddle around with the awning and get it up nice and quickly in the rain, and we too were also standing around with a drink in our hand.
Saturday morning we woke to the sounds of planes taking off from Sydney Kingsford International Airport, and rain on the roof.
The weather was not playing kindly with us, and when you’re in the city and the weather is awful what does one do? Costco! Yep we headed off for our first visit to Costco.
Having spent the good part of the morning wandering around, we grabbed some lunch goodies and headed back to camp.
We spent the afternoon sky watching trying to determine if our plans to head into the city for Vivid were sound or not. In the end we decided to chance it and headed off for an adventure to the city.
North Ryde train station is only about 700m up the road from the park, so we headed off on foot to the station.
Hopefully the sunset as we arrived at the station was a good sign.
With the zappy zaps (Opal Cards) sorted we didn’t have to wait long before the train arrived to take us to Circular Quay via Wynyard.
We headed to Fortune of War, where we had (thankfully) pre-booked a table for dinner.
We followed the Vivid Light walking trail which led us under the bridge and spectacular views of the Opera House and Luna Park, and then down the path to the water near the bridge.
We then followed the waterfront all the way back to the train station.
Due to some construction on the waterfront the pathway leads back up into the beautiful Rocks.
Given it was a long weekend – albeit, wet and cold – we were really surprised at the lack of crowds around for the evening, which made for an easy and pleasant night especially for the kids.
The views back to the Bridge and up towards Circular Quay from the Passenger Terminal.
As the night was getting late, and the little feet a little tired we started to make our way towards the train station, so i was grabbing a few shots along the way.
With a few tired little (and big) people we made the trek back to the park on the trains.
North Ryde Station really is pretty cool!
I made a little video of our Vivid adventure …
Sunday morning the weather still wasn’t really playing nice with us but we did glimpse some blue sky.
With a hearty breakfast in our bellies, and what looked like a clearing sky we tempted fate by bundling all the kids up in their wet weather gear and heading off on a bush walk.
We kinda let the kids decide (but also pushed for the shorter Weir walk) 🙂
The walk was pretty easy, the first part was a small decline down some stairs and then mostly flatish walk along the river edge – it is a truly stunning part of the city.
You have no idea how close to the city you really are when you walking through the park.
As we made our way back to camp i made a little video of the walk.
Whilst it didn’t really rain – a few sprinkles here and there – the weather wasn’t really pleasant enough to do too much, so by sunset we all had the cabin fevers setting in, so we decided to walk the park before settling in for the night.
We were so impressed with the facilities of the park, how clean and tidy everything was and really everything about the park. If you have too (or want too) camp in the city, this is most definitely the place to do it.
A few more pics of our sites.
As we usually do we ate like kings and even had beautiful Costco apple pie ( i even indulged a little on the Gluten feast).
Monday morning saw dry skies after some late night downpours, which meant we were all able to pack up dry which is always a good end to a camping trip.
Thanks to all the crew for an awesome weekend despite the weather! Can’t wait for the next trip.
We left Allora and Dalrymple Creek Park behind after spending a bit of time trying to work out where we were going next. We were a little under-prepared for this part of the trip. We need to be in Brisbane on Monday (its Friday) for the trailer to go back to the factory for some repairs and work. We are heading to some mates north of Brisbane for Saturday/Sunday as they have kindly agreed to hold some of our stuff that we need to remove from the trailer whilst its at the factory, but hadn’t anticipated being this efficient in our travels LOL so we essentially now have a day spare and no idea where to go.
After a bit of map searching we opted to head towards the Glass House Mountains. We haven’t been there before and after looking at Wikicamps (if you like to camp and don’t have it seriously go to the App Store pay and download it, its so worth it) the options were somewhat limited and the available options didn’t have glowing recommendations, so we were taking a bit of a punt on a caravan park in the glass house mountains.
We stopped for a stretch break at Esk and headed into the Visitor Centre to grab some info on the mountains – there wasn’t any. This probably should have a been sign.
With the Caravan Park loaded into the GPS we headed towards the mountains and more dark clouds hanging around. We found the caravan park, drove in and essentially drove straight back out. The wikicamp comments were well lets say on point!
Landsborough Pines Caravan Park
So after some more searching, we found a park about 15km up the road at Landsborough, and as it turns out not too far from Australia Zoo. We headed to Landsborough Pines Caravan Park, set up the trailer and decided to try and beat the weather and go for a look see of the mountains.
We headed down along the Old Gympie Road towards the main Glass House Mountains National Park lookout. These mountains and the surrounding plains are the ancestral home of the Jinibara people and Kabi Kabi people.
According to Jinibara peoples’ lore and custom, Beerwah is the ancestral pregnant mother and Tibrogargan is the father with his faithful dingo, Ngungun, lying at his feet. Around the parents are their children—Coonowrin the eldest, Beerburrum, Coochin, Elimbah, Tibberoowuccum, Miketeebumulgrai, Tunbubudla and the youngest known today as Wild Horse Mountain.
We pulled into a few lookouts along the way.
There are many stories from the indigenous peoples of the land in relation to the mountains however the main story seems to go – Coonowrin is said to be the son of Tibrogargan and Beerwah. During a violent storm, Tibrogargan commanded his son Coonowrin to take his mother Beerwah and his siblings and help them move to safety. Being scared of the storm, Coonowrin instead ran off and when his father found him he hit him on the back of the head, resulting in Coonowrin’s crooked neck. Tibrogargan was so ashamed of his son’s cowardice that to this day he sits with his back to Coonowrin.
We stopped at the trail head to check out the walks, discovering most are 3km or over. So given the time of day and impending weather walking appeared to be off the list.
From here we headed to the main lookout. The lookout is about 10km from the Glass House Mountains township, in Beerburrum West State Forest and apparently offers panoramic views of the mountain peaks, Caloundra, Maroochydore, Brisbane and Moreton Island, just not today LOL.
10" x 20" Photo Print of Mt Cogee, Mt Tibrogargan and Mt Beerburrum
With storm on approach we left the lookout and started to make our way back to the park. We stopped at the Tibrogargan trail head carpark to check out the walks.
With the rain holding out, we opted to quickly head up the Mountain View Lookout trail.
With the rain now well and truly coming down we headed back to the camp to dry out the chairs and settle in for the evening.
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.
The start of the walk
Suspension Bridge at the start
Looking down into the gorge
Down into the gorge
Down at water level
The boulders are huge!
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.
The parking bay
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
Entrance to the Limestone Cave
Inside the cave – looking back to the entrance from as far back as we ventured.
Inside Limestone Cave
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.
View from the lookout
Looking down into the swimming hole from the lookout
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.
Start of the Rock Pool Walk
A very tall Cactus Tree
There are steps to navigate on this track
As you get towards the bottom you are walking/rock hopping across the boulders
Looking downstream from the water hole
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 little side arm area in front of the campground that still had some water left in it
This guy was soooo tall!!
The track is well marked
Nature’s Easter Egg ?
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 view was pretty special
Looking towards Dungeon Lookout
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.
From where we had come
We opted not to take this track back
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.
The cockatoo’s ensured we didn’t sleep in too long, but a bit longer than some of our camp mates who came in last night and were done bright and early this morning, leaving the campsite all to ourselves again.
After breaky, we headed for the track which leads to Breeza lookout. We haven’t ventured to this end of the park before. The road is a dry weather track, and given the total fire ban in place I was pretty surprised at just how wet the track was one we passed over the Great Dividing Range. It’s about 30km and took us about an hour going pretty cruisey to get to the lookout.
It was also pretty hazy from the smoke over this side, but the view is still pretty nice. About a third, maybe halfway along the way along the track you make your way over the Great Dividing Range and out of the Warrumbungles Ranges into the Liverpool Ranges.
As we usually do we forgot to hook the GoPro up before we headed off so for the last bit of the track we stuck my phone up in the bracket to capture a bit of the trail, unfortunately we remembered after the mud 🙁 next time I’ll try to remember in the mud 😊
By the time we had traversed the track back again Charlie was looking a little dirty.
We stopped at Bald Hills Falls, which has some very cool vertical column geological structures, however the waterfall wasn’t falling today.
From the falls we headed to Brackens Hut, where the afternoon storm was starting to brew a little bit earlier than usual.
These pretty little flowers can be found all around the hut.
So can these but not sure I’d call them pretty!
Last time we were up here Coxs Creek Campground was closed due to storm damage, so had a little look see at it before heading back to Bundella Lookout.
And a short stroll out to the Pinnacles Lookout. I considered throwing the drone up here but seriously it’s already pretty awesome!
For those playing along – yep old mate is still camped in the no camp area at the lookout 🤔🙄 We headed back to camp for a late lunch, and with the campsite all to ourselves I took the drone for a fly.
How civilised are we! We even showed this weekend – shower tent and all!
Grass Trees Walk
After an early rain sprinkle we headed back to the grass trees with the drone.
OMG Drone Selfies!!!! How cool are these trees!
No trees, drones or humans were injured in the making of this, and yes I still have a way to go before losing my L Plates 😂
As we’re sitting back taking in an afternoon beveridge, that sound you don’t want to hearing – a tree cracking and falling. I managed to see where this one was as it was across the road, so we figured we’d go look see. This is why we don’t camp under trees, even when they aren’t dead they crack and fall.
The small watering hole just below camp.
We got the expected afternoon storm before dinner which didn’t eventuate into much and we able to enjoy a nice relaxing evening.
We woke to the sound of rain in the roof, which is usually very pleasant, but not on pack up day. So after a slow start to the morning we started the pack up and only just in time too. As we came out of the campground, and out onto the main road, the heavens opened and absolutely bucketed down, so it was definitely time to set the GPS for home after another super relaxing weekend at Coolah 👍👍
With an early finish from work, we loaded the last minute items into the car and trailer and hit the road for a weekend of camping. With a bit of traffic and a few trucks we were chasing the last remaining light pretty hard by the time we arrived at Coolah Tops National Park.
Night time arrival
Having been here before is a big bonus so we knew exactly where we wanted to go and even which site we wanted. We arrived at the campground just after dark and headed to our spot, probably one of best 3 sites at this campground – level, good solar and no big arse gum trees hanging over your head – unfortunately someone else was already in a spot near it, which obviously you want to avoid where possible.
Everyone loves their space, but also I wasn’t going to camp under the dry, tall gum trees that hang over the other sites. The third site is a bitch to manoeuvre into which didn’t appeal in the dark. So we jumped out to check the site out just in case there weren’t logs etc on it and old mate next door, well he gets up off his chair comes storming over and in broken English tells us to go camping somewhere else, with arms and hands waving everywhere.
At first I’m like whoa this dudes crazy then after a few seconds I’m like nope he’s just an entitled old prick who wants the whole campground to himself. So as he’s still waving and yelling at us, we reverse onto our site trying to work out if we should be worried or laughing.
We probably haven’t even got the top popped before the rain starts. Lol lol lol the Rainmakers are at it again.
The park is under a very unusual Fire Ban due to the dryness – not tonight people not tonight! So snacks for dinner and a lightning show it was, with old mate finally succumbing to the rain and venturing into his van and off went the music that had kept increasing in volume, shame it was country music which we like 😂😂😂
A new day
An early night with the sound of rain on the roof and bit of grumbling across the sky and we woke up to blue skies and old mate is hitching up. What the hell! No idea if they were only planning to stay one night or literally weren’t staying because someone else had the audacity to camp here too.
With old mate gone we got up and got to work putting the awning up and leveling the van.
A trip out to the lookout had us in stitches as we come around the bend to see old mate pulled up under the trees – almost went over and told him its a day use area only and camping isn’t allowed but thought better of it 😂😂
It’s quite a spectacular view from Bundella.
We came through quite a bit of smoke last night so I was surprised just how far we could see today.
We were pretty hungry by this point given we hadn’t had dinner and it was mid morning, so we headed back to camp for a good old brunch fry up 🐷 🐣 🐮.
It’s a hard life this camping business!
Actually some days I think it is for Tash, I’m not sure i know how to sit and do nothing. So I’m always fiddling with something, looking at something, standing, sitting.. Yeah you get the picture!
I got myself a small drone before Christmas and have had endless problems getting it to connect, but I think I’ve finally figured out the sequence, and got it up today without any swearing in about 2 minutes flat. A view of our camp from up high.
These gorgeous flowers were growing along one of the paths around camp. There must be thousands of these guys up here, the noise is sometimes almost unbearable, especially at 7am!
With the skies starting to grumble to again and boredom getting the better of me, we took the short walk from camp to the Grove of grass trees. Even got the drone up a second time, in amongst the grass trees – little bit scary really haven’t mastered the whole steering aspect yet.
It’s so dry up and not hard to see why the fire ban is in place. The predicted 5pm storm rolled on through and we got a little more rain, at least the canvas is getting a free clean judging by the red water collecting in the buckets. Showers, dinner and a somewhat earlier night finished off a pretty decent day.