It was an experiment of sorts, and not the most adventurous trip, but it proved a good way to sample the magnificent wilderness areas of northern NSW. In between the walks we took advantage of hotels with character, a firm bed, reasonable menu, and, usually a washing machine. Regional towns were the stepping-stones to our northern NSW wilderness adventure. Bear in mind you need to book ahead during school holidays, and not only for the hotel rooms, but these days also national park camp sites as well.
The wilderness areas of the eastern escarpment, coastal foothills and tablelands of NSW are much overlooked as destinations, made more so by all the rain of the last few years. As it’s impossible to organise weather, road conditions and walk difficulty into a bookings timetable, the primary difficulty with this two week trip was the reliance on hotels and park campsites being available when needed. The NPWS campsite bookings app doesn’t allow flexible bookings, so about half a dozen bookings were burnt as a result, and that wasted about $100. We risked just turning up at hotels and were usually lucky.
Making the most of the excellent pre-Christmas weather of 2022, Stephen Allen and I were able to enjoy Barrington, Macleay Gorges, Cathedral Rock, New England wilderness areas, as well as Gibraltar Rocks National Park in 14 days. If the weather were otherwise, we would have extended our hotel stays, settled down to eating through the menus of various rural food outlets and researching weather forecasts and walk options over beer till boredom or fine weather set in.
This trip would not have been possible if the substantial damage to NSW roads had not been repaired, so three cheers to the regional road crews who made flood ruined secondary roads serviceable in a matter of weeks, and ready for the 2022-23 summer holidays.
Royal Hotel, Dungog - $56 lunch for two
Commercial Hotel, Walcha - $105 per room
Diggers Tavern, Bellingen - $165 per room
Heritage Hotel, Dorrigo - $140 per room
Crown Hotel, Grafton – $105 ask for a verandah room
Riverside camp $24.60 – 2 nights, not used
Budds Mare camp – booking fee $7.00
Dorrigo Rainforest Centre entry – $4.00
Barokee campground - $36.90 – one night used of three booked