You don’t always have to go the most remote corners of the country to get your touring fix – nor do you have to find the hardest tracks to have an excuse to load your 4WD up and get out and about. We have so many good spots to explore – all within a few hours of home and the thing we love most about this country is that you can be secluded deep within a mountain range, perched up sinking bevies in a freshwater river or dipping in the surf at a pristine coastal campsite all in the same day.
We take every opportunity we can to get our 4WDs out and use them, so when an opportunity arose, we wasted no time in loading the big 79 up and headed straight for the hills for the first stint of a round about trip that would see us going from bush to beach and back again.
The original plan was to head for the Victorian High Country for a week with a bunch of our good customers we had invited along for the trip. Unforeseen circumstances caused for a few late minute changes to the plan and before we knew it we were heading northwest instead of south with a crew of 4 vehicles instead of a crew of 10.
Our first stop would be Chaffy Dam, just southeast of Tamworth and even though the water levels were pretty low at the time, the weather turned on some perfect conditions for a swim and a great first spot to pull up camp. It’s an easy drive out of Newcastle with a bit of dirt road and some beautiful scenery coming up the back way through Moonan Flat to Nundle. Rolling green hills were the order of the day and it was great to see some recent rainfall transform the brown, arid countryside back to a pleasant shade of green again. A quick pit-stop at the Victoria Hotel at Moonan Flat is definitely worth the detour for a some light refreshments.
The campsite, which has some good amenities, has bucket loads of wide open campsites perfect for groups of campers – but with enough space to set up away form everyone. There’s no powered sites though, so a good battery and solar set -up is a must for extended stays. Water-front views don’t get any better than this though, and it really makes the trip out worth it.
From there, we pushed further north and set about exploring parts of the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. Nestled just outside the small township of Walcha this national park lies within the Northern Tablelands and features the spectacular Apsley Falls and Apsley River. Unfortunately the recent rain wasn’t quite enough to get the falls flowing but the river was still moving quick enough for us to enjoy the last of the warm weather and take in a quick dip in the refreshing fresh water river.
Riverside Campground is a well equipped campsite that requires the collection of keys from the National Parks and Wildlife office at Walcha so bookings are essential for this site, but are worth it for the seclusion and the views of the mountain ranges on the way in to the campsite are nothing short of spectacular.
From here, we cut a B-line through the national park from Yarrowich to Bellbrook taking in the mountain sites. The driving is fairly easy but can be greasy in the wet so while you won’t be lifting wheels or using diff locks any time soon, it’s advisable to prepare fop the worst in-case the mountains turn on some wild weather. You can pick up some basic supplies at Bellbrook including fuel or stop for a quick counter lunch at the Bellbrook Hotel.
From Bellbrook we pushed further west to Georges Junction – a sensational grassy campsite on the banks of the Macleay River. Campsites don’t get much nicer than this one with wide-open, flat, grassy campsites right on some of the best parts of the Macleay. You can lock the hubs in and cross the river here with water depths ranging from hub depth through to bonnet depth depending on recent rain fall. There’s some good little low range 4WD challenges around the area (again not overly hard but still plenty of fun) so this campsite has a bit of everything.
Amenities are fairly basic including long-drop toilets and non-powered sites but the campsite is far enough away from civilisation to give you the remote touring fix without having to travel to the ends of the earth. We enjoyed the last of our wonderful summer weather bathing off the dust in the fresh, clear waters of the mighty Macleay.
So we’d enjoyed out stint in the bush and it was time to head east to our beautiful coast-line. After a quick stop at Kempsey for some last minute supplies, we headed out towards Cresent Head and then south towards Port Macquiarie – our beach campsite for the night would be Point Plomer. Situated within the Limeburners National Park, this pristine campsite has its own beach, great facilities and is only a short drive from the major towns of either Kempsey or Port Macquarie.
There’s plenty to do here including swimming, surfing, bush walking and it’s one of the best locations in the area to spot migrating whales off the headlands.
There’s a huge (cold showers) amenities block, picnic tables and fire pits. Fire wood and basic supplies are available from the site office and bookings are essential in holiday season – but generally outside of these times there are plenty of campsites to choose from. The track back through to Port Macquarie is 4WD only as it can be very rutted as well as having deep sand sections and can get some serious mud also after heavy rain.
The alternative to this track is to drive on to the beach at Queens Head and drive south down the beach to the exit track which brings you out on Port Macquarie’s North Shore, where the Point Plomer Track also ends. From here, it’s a short trip across the punt to Settlement Point and Port Macquarie CBD.
It just goes to show that there’s plenty of touring opportunities available to get your fix without having to drive to the middle of the country. We all love those big trips but a lot of the time it all comes down to how much time we can afford to spend travelling, so more often than not a local touring trip is much more appealing and realistic than a trip to the High Country, Birdsville or Cape York – so it’s good to know that you can still load up your 4WD, see some spectacular sites and some good remote camping, all over a few days rather than a few weeks.