In our armchair travels we’ve been exploring the wonders of Australia. We have now come to Lismore which is the commercial center of the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales or NSW. This region finds itself between the rainforest and the sea. It is 45 km inland from Byron Bay and 100 km south of the Gold Coast. Lismore is still home to the Aboriginal people of the Bundjalung nation. It offers so much to nature lovers with World Heritage reserves and lovely National Parks with plenty of places to camp and picnic. We will take a look at the National Parks in this region and next time explore the many parks and gardens in this location.
Taking up a large wilderness area with rainforest and unusual animals and plants connected to the ancient super continent of Gondwana is Border Ranges National Park. Here you can walk in pristine rainforest past gorges and waterfalls. For fantastic views visit one of the highlights of the park The Pinnacle Lookout with the lush Tweed Valley spread out more than 100 m below and take in views over Wollumbin and across toward the ocean and beyond.
There are walking trails suitable for all fitness levels. You can enjoy the short Palm Valley loop walk through subtropical rainforests or opt for the more difficult Booyong walk that starts from Sheepstation Creek campgrounds. During your walk you’re sure to find a lovely spot for a picnic or barbecue lunch. Make sure to have your camera handy as there is lots of nature to take pictures of.
For those of you who enjoy taking a holiday on water there is Bundjalung. This north coast park combines river, beach and freshwater lagoons. It stretches north from Iluka to Evans Head with the Pacific Ocean making its eastern boundary. Visitors can spend the day canoeing along Evans River or Jerusalem Creek, mountain biking the Macaulays Lead or Serendipity fire trail or walking along Ten Mile Beach. You’ll also find boat launching facilities and places for snorkeling on the shallow reefs and fishing.
If you would like you can stay more than one day and head for the beachside campgrounds or book a cabin at Woody Head. In the evening you can enjoy a barbecue dinner and gather round a campfire where a local Bundjalung guide tells tales of their culture, values and connections to the park.
If you really enjoy getting up close to nature head for Mebbin National Park. This park is a nature conservation area protecting an important part of the Tween landscape. It also serves as a vital habitat link between the World Heritage areas of Wollumbin and Border Ranges National parks. A large part of the park is dry eucalypt forest, along with some rainforest and a small section of old growth forest.
You can explore the park by following Byrrill Creek walking track through sub-tropical rainforest and fig trees. If you prefer you can be adventurous and do mountain biking or horseback riding along the trails that twist and turn beneath the tall eucalyptus trees towering overhead.
As you walk along keep a lookout for some of the park’s rare, threatened species, like large owls, lace monitor lizards, glossy black-cockatoos and red-legged pademelons. You might not get a glimpse of the endangered giant barred frog but you can hear the frogs calls on hot summer nights. There are many wonderful places for camping and picnicking at Cutters Camp Campground. It is found in an awesome forested setting with free wood and gas barbecues.
For walking in lush rainforest you’ll enjoy Nightcap National Park with its ancient rainforests, amazing waterways and fantastic views. The rainforest is home to the newly discovered nightcap oak and a number of threatened animal species among them Albert’s lyrebird and Fleay’s barred frog. The barred frog likes taking shelter under leaf litter and after a rainfall it makes an ok-okok-ok sound.
In the park you can enjoy having a picnic, bushwalk or overnight camping. There are awesome waterfalls and crystal clear creeks and great views of the 20 million year-old Wollumbin shield volcano. Among the highlights in this park are:
- Minyon Grass Picnic Area – beneath the shade of towering trees and a wonderful view of the falls.
- Rummery Park Campground – located in the neighboring Whian Whian State Conservation Area and has access for small caravans, campervans and trailers as well as tent camping.
- Protestors Falls Walk – an easy walk through rainforest and a favorite with children.
- Terania Creek Picnic Area – an area for families with places for barbecues and plenty of birds and goannas.
- Minyon Falls Lookout – from where on a clear day you can see views all around and straight to the ocean.
World Heritage-listed Wollumbin National Park is an ancient park that dates back to the time when a great deal of Australia was covered by rainforest. This area is one of Australia’s biodiversity hotspots with plenty of flora and fauna, among them the rare and endangered Albert’s Lyrebird. Here you’ll find a huge, extinct shield-shaped volcano Wollumbin-Mount Warning. It has a dual name because the Aboriginal people called it Wollumbin and Captain Cook named it Mount Warning. It was so named to warn mariners of offshore reefs. The area was shaped by 20 million years of heavy rainfall and is called The Green Cauldron Walk through lush rainforest.
Under Bundjalung lore, supposedly only chosen people are allowed to climb Wollumbin and as a sign of respect to their ancestors visitors should choose to not climb it. It rises 1.157 m above sea level. It can be viewed from many different vantage points in the surrounding massive crater, including Cudgen Nature Reserve, Border Ranges National Park and Nightcap National Park, Cape Byron lighthouse and various settlements.
You can explore the Gondwana Rainforest – rich with plant, animal and bird life by taking a short walk on the Lyrebird Track. The winding path takes visitors under towering palms as whipbirds, noisy pitta and lyrebirds make their calls. You can have a picnic by Breakfast Creek or at Korrumbyn Picnic Area.