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 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.
Tuesday morning! Normal Business day – hooray! We got up and headed a few streets up to the Dunlop mechanics we had spied on Saturday hoping they would be able to fix the tyre today (and somewhat quickly). We were in luck. We dropped the truck and headed to the cafe for breakfast. Well what else were we supposed to do !!!!
With a little bit of shopping under our belt – an array of odds and ends that would make you laugh, we got the text to say the truck was ready.
So with Charlie looking a little more flash with his proper tyre back on and spare under the rear we headed back to the park to collect Leeroy and get back on our way.
We drove through to Narrabri and stopped at the always helpful and welcoming Visitor Centre to grab some information (and update some old ones). I had sort of forgotten/not realised that it was cotton harvest time, thinking it was later in April. So i was pretty stoked to see this display and hear that the cotton was out and ready to be harvested.
Not too far into our drive our first crop of cotton for the trip was spotted.
Some where between Happy Hour and Good Friday drinks at the Pub we agreed to do sunrise on top of the Warrumbungles. Trev managed to suck us in real good on this one!
Grand High Tops
So after getting to bed at about midnight, we awoke to our alarms at the allotted 3am time slot and got ourselves dressed and into the cars.
We headed off up the road for about 30 to 40 mins trying to dodge the roo’s at 10 paces. Unfortunately one didn’t turn quick enough. i saw him coming at the side of the car and was like uh-oh this isn’t going to be good! He turned and as he’s swing around his tail had gone thump, I’ve gone gulp, and picked up the CB – Trev he got me. Trev – you wanna stop. I’m like I can’t hear weird noises but it didn’t sound good. Nah keep going I think we’re okay.
We arrive at the parking lot get out the torches, and thankfully his tail has swiped the side wheel fairing on the truck. It’s still there in one piece but busted – we’ll deal with that when we come back down.
By now it’s 4am and still dark but the full moon is shining so we probably didn’t need our torches but the track alternates from rocky to sandy to paved so the torches helped ensure we didn’t break a limb.
Ahead of us was an approximate 12km round trip taking us to Grand High Tops lookout and a birdseye view (and hopefully picture perfect) of sunrise over the infamous Breadknife of the Warrumbungles.
Warrumbungle National Park is Australia’s only Dark Sky Park, making it the perfect spot for stargazing, amateur astronomy and Astro photography, except when its a full moon! In January 2013 about 80% of the national park was destroyed by fire, so it was good to see the regeneration that has occurred over the past 5 years.
We made pretty good time for the first 4 odd kms and took a breather at the table and chairs.
From here it was pretty much stairs and straight up for about 2km or a bit less, which took us a bit longer then the entire first section.
As we got closer to the top the moonlight was shining on one of the rock formations and we couldn’t resist a few quick photos.
We made it to top just as first light was breaking and it was a pretty sweet feeling I have to say.
We cranked out some shots for an hour or so before the girls started the climb back down.
Trev and I still had a few more shots to get in the bag before we headed down.
It was quite fresh at first light particularly with sweaty wet shirts – haha yep too much information – but as the sun rose it was really pleasant up on top of the world or at least that what it seemed like.
The Long Way Down
We started the descent, and oh boy I have to say I wasn’t any way near as buggered coming up as thought (it was bloody tough but didn’t kill me) but geeez, how hard is coming down on the body.
I grabbed a few shots on the phone as we made our way down.
We hit the stairs and my legs were like jelly. The girls were waiting for us mid stairs and and once we hit the flat it was like a bunch of drunken sailors, our legs didn’t know what was going on.
As we walked out groups were walking in and it was a pretty cool feeling knowing we were done and they were, well barely even getting started.
We got back to the cars and I was able to survey the damage a little better and was quite relieved. It could have been a whole lot worse. I managed to remove the fairing without issue, however now poor Charlie had the spare tyre and missing fairing so he wasn’t looking too flash at all.
The other camp crew were meeting up with us in the park so we had time to chill out.
From the hike car park we headed to visitor centre where we showed the kids – big and little – where we had walked.
Once we had all geeked out enough at the telescopes we headed into Coona (Coonabarrabran) to try to get our tyre fixed but being Easter Saturday everything was shut so we opted for lunch at the Pub instead.
With bellies full – well my roast barely touched the sides after kranking out 23,000 steps before 10.30am – we headed for camp via the Emu farm.
Time to Feast (Again)
Roast feast was on the menu back at camp for dinner as well, so for those that didn’t nanna nap the afternoon away preparations for the feast began,and my oh my what a feast it was. Linda excelled at both the shopping list for us all and the coordination of dinner. Safe to say none of us were hungry nor was it a late night 😂
Barely able to coherently talk and shower I was in bed and out to it by about 11.00pm.
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 👍👍