You will need a car shuffle or a taxi ride as this is a one way walk, although it can be walked in either direction. We began in Fernmount, leaving the view towards the Promised Land from the Bellingen lookout, and the cafes in town, as the end reward for our physical efforts.
Storylines, trigs and communication towers
But first, the path climbs to a small communications tower, servicing the insatiable need for mobile connectivity, and then to a disused trig point with healthy tree cover blocking out a view.
When I was a a child, trigonometric (trig) stations were essential for mapping and navigation. Tracks to trigs allowing access for surveyors provided hikers with an opportunity to climb to many high lookout points. Trigonometric surveying in NSW commenced in 1867 with a baseline at Lake George, and some 6000 trig stations were established over the next 150 years to create a control network for NSW.
Now global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and continuously operating reference station (CORS) networks have largely replaced trig stations over the last couple of decades. Now trigs are the forgotten technology of the last century.
Long before white man arrived on the north coast to build his beacons and towers, the Gumbaynggirr clans travelled between the coast and the tablelands along the Yildaan (dreaming track) using story as one of their methods of navigation. These forests remain culturally important to the Gumbaynggirr as a store of bush tucker and bush medicines, to find resources to make tools, and containing sacred sites.
Tarkeeth State Forest
Its a beautiful clear day. We can hear the sound of logging machinery as we walk, and in the distance the brown slope of clear fell is jarring among the green of the forest. Tarkeeth State Forest contains both plantations, recovering forests and old growth, and provides habitat for koalas, birds, reptiles, marsupials and more.
Further along the path is a shelter and a fire ring – the site of logging protests perhaps? Later I learnt more about previous protests over clear felling the Tarkeeth, the ongoing concerns of the locals regarding the Tarkeeth forests around logging wood for chipping, biomass extraction, and aerial spraying. Forest matter from Tarkeeth is trucked to Broadwater power station (Cape Byron Power) to provide biofuel.
Towards the end of our walk, we stop at Lardner Lookout to admire the view across the Bellinger valley, before descending to Hill Street and a cafe in Bellingen.