This is Birpai country. Coorabakh means bloodwood. This route travels along the Lansdowne escarpment, which is believed to be a traditional route to the Comboyne plateau.
Coopernook Forest HQ
From the village of Coopernook, follow the Forest Way to Coopernook Forest HQ. This is now a large, shaded campsite on grass, but last century was a busy forestry village from the early 1930s until the 1990s. The old Foremans Cottage is being restored as a small museum by local volunteers, who kindly gave us a guided tour. A short walk leads through the forest where square-tailed kites nest high in the trees. Part of the walk follows the old Port Macquarie road.
Continuing on the forest drive, a turn off leads up to the first of a number of lookouts, Vincents Lookout. Coopernook was one of the first NSW State Forests, proclaimed in January 1914. The lookout is named for the local state MP and Minister for Forests, Roy Vincent. A flooded gum in Bruxner Park Flora Reserve is known as the Vincent Tree. Vincent was also involved in early attempts to protect the Dorrigo Escarpment.
Coorabakh Lookouts and Creeks
After entering Coorabakh National Park, there are more lookouts – Newbys and Flat Rock, two pretty sub-tropical rainforest creek stops with short walks – Newbys and Starrs, and one volcanic plug – Big Nellie. John Newby was an early settler in the district, establishing a trading service on the Manning and farming dairy.
A sign at the base of Big Nellie warns that the track up is for experienced climbers only. We give it a go, and enjoy the view from the summit. There is a Little Nellie and a Flat Nellie as well, also volcanic intrusions.
Also in the area is Waitui Falls with a nice swimming hole and a picnic table under the trees.
There’s a lot to enjoy on a scenic tour of Coopernook and Coorabakh, so put on your walking shows, pack a picnic and make a day of it!