Day 4: Girraween to Oxley Wild Rivers NP

Distance: 256K
Weather: Sunny, mid 20s

On the way out of Girraween we did one last short walk to Dr Roberts Waterhole. The very first walking track in Girraween was to this waterhole. Apart from it being a lovely spot to swim (no we didn’t) it’s the home of the superb lyrebird which is the reason Dr Roberts lobbied the government of the day to create a National Park here, protecting their habitat and that of the wombat. Thank goodness for caring, far-sighted people such as him.

We were soon on the New England Highway headed to Armidale from where we turned off to Dangars Gorge. We stopped at Tenterfield to reprovision. It was another very pleasant drive through lovely countryside in pleasant weather. At the turnoff to Dangars Gorge is a very impressive monument built in the 1930s by a local whose son was killed in WW1

At Dangars Gorge our friends Trish and Bryan were already set up. We were soon settled with sundowners in hand and a pleasant evening catching up ahead.


A very interesting memorial which is well worth stopping to view.

Days 2 & 3: Castle Rock Camping area, Girraween National Park

Distance travelled: 0 (by vehicle that is)
Weather: Beautiful – blue skies, fluffy clouds, pleasant temperature, a light breeze

Bushwalking and relaxing are our goals here. Girraween National Park is fair and square in the granite belt, speaking of ancient volcanic activity. Today the park is covered in enormous granite boulders and granite flows. It has several creeks that flow through the park and a pretty good average rainfall of 800+mm annually which supports a reasonably lush sclerophyll bush. Because of its elevation it’s significantly cooler than the plains with average maximum in summer of about 30C. We were lucky with the weather during our stay as you can see.

Girraween is an Australian Aboriginal word meaning ‘place of flowers’ and despite a bad bushfire in the park only 3 months ago there are pretty wildflowers and new growth on the trees everywhere.

On our first day here we decided to do the ‘moderately difficult’ walks of The Sphinx, Turtle Rock and Castle Rock – which will be about 8 – 9K with the climb to the summit of Castle Rock being graded as ‘difficult’. There was lots of ups and not nearly enough downs and millions of granite steps. They took us past gigantic granite rocks strewn around like marbles, lots of interesting bushes, many of which are flowering with the prettiest little intricate flowers, bird life which was mostly heard rather than seen and lots of delightful Cunninghams skinks. The Sphinx was pretty impressive, and so was Turtle Rock for its sheer size, but you needed a better imagination than I have to make out a turtle shape. Castle Rock was pretty incredible for many reasons, one of which was the effort it takes to climb it. However the views are outstanding and well worth the difficult scrambling and fear-inducing slope down to infinity to see.



Steve, with The Sphinx behind him


Granite, just as far as the eye can see.

Second day here (Happy Birthday Nick) we had a late leisurely start before completing the walks to the Granite Arch, the Bald Rock Creek circuit and Wyberba circuit. These are easy walks on predominantly flat routes. Bald Rock Creek is unique in that it winds its way around granite rocks and across a granite bed – there are small waterfalls and little rapids. It’s flowing very well at the moment. The Wyberba Circuit took us further downstream where the creek was fairly wide and had a beautiful swimming hole – tempting, but not hot enough for me to swim. The creeks of Girraween feed the Murray-Darling rivers.


Bald Rock Creek – beaustiful, babbling and cool


Do I see movement? Don’t look up now Steve!


Regrowth everywhere after the fires only 3 months ago.

Sitting at our campsite this afternoon within minutes we had spotted magpies, currawongs, kookaburras, fairy wrens, crimson rosellas and heard the songs of others we couldn’t identify. There’s a mob of kangaroos that feed on the short grass in the camping area and a couple of hares that are probably too small to make a good stew!

I’m sure as our travels continue we’ll stay in many National Parks. We are indeed blessed with a fantastic network of Parks. The walks are clearly marked and well maintained – taking in the full range of difficulty to cater for the predominantly sedentary to the keen bushwalker. They have excellent camping facilities with this one having free hot showers, flush toilets (both very clean), large grassy areas for games, picnic tables and BBQs (these are wood BBQs and it is BYO wood). All this for the princely sum of $5.20 per person per night (in Qld, anyway).


Our personal slice of heaven.

Day 1: Home to Girraween National Park

Distance: 288.7K
Weather: 26C when we left home; 18C on arrival. Mostly cloudy – one short rain shower.
Refuelled in Warwick. Odometer: 1914K; $1.299/L.
Campsite fees: $11.20 per night

This is to be the first ‘real’ adventure in Priscilla – the last one being merely bring her home. We’ve planned to be away about a month, getting home in time for the arrival of our son, his wife and their new baby from Berlin. Our plans are loose – a few days bushwalking at Girraween, then on to meet friends at Oxley Wild Rivers for more bushwalking, a day back at Priscilla’s birthplace, a long weekend in Canberra with our son and his fiancĂ© and home. We delayed our departure date to attend the funeral of a family member – the first of ‘our’ generation to die. A timely reminder of why we’re out there and doing this.

The last week has been filled with lists of equipment to be bought or found to stock Priscilla and we think we’ve got all we need – time will tell. In the boot we’ve got the usual tools and 4wd recovery gear as well as our inflatable kayak, two fold-up bikes, our backpacks for bushwalking and the Cobb oven. We’re anticipating lots of fun.

We were in no rush to leave, getting away at 11.45am. Our route took us via Esk, Gatton, Clifton, Warwick, Stanthorpe, Ballandean to Castle Rock camping area in Girraween National Park where we’re booked for the next 3 nights.

The whole drive was very enjoyable with the road from Esk to Gatton, and from Clifton being standouts for the beauty and diversity of the countryside. The vineyards around Ballandean were tempting us, but no time today and we decided this area alone could amuse us for a couple of weeks – something to plan for the future. We stopped at Warwick for fuel and fresh groceries.

Once at Castle Rock camp grounds it didn’t take us long to choose a spot – 5 other campers here, so plenty of room. Went for a walk to the ranger’s hut (closed) and to check out the beginning of the walks we’ve planned. Back home for sundowners, a delicious dinner and now snuggled up in bed writing this. Chilly outside: 15 as I write, but a pleasant 19 inside.

leaving home

And we’re off!