Back in the late 19th century, Edward Sharpe settled in the Orara Valley, naming the creek Nana, after the aboriginal word for a lizard with a forked tail. Edward’s son was up on a hill above Nana Creek, looking for his bullocks or perhaps red gold (cedar trees) when he found the shiny yellow stuff instead in an outcrop of quartz. The gold fields were proclaimed in late 1881 and the Orara gold rush was on.
This route takes Nana Creek Rd, then Battery Rd, turning up just after the power lines to the Nana Creek mines on the crest of Mathilda Hill – named for Edwards daughter.
Danger – be very careful The open mine shafts plummet straight down, though they have been fenced. Supervise children. There is a roadside mine you can explore with a torch – look up for the bats and moths.
A battery with ten head stamps was bought to the site for crushing the rock, and a small village established at the creek with huts, a store, school and butcher. A track runs from the road down to the old village site beside the creek, and you can have fun playing Indiana Jones finding the rusty metal, old vat and boiler, pipes etc amongst the palm trees and vines.
The Nana Creek gold did not last long : although there was possibly payable rock to be found, the heavy cost of cartage and crushing in this remote spot put an end to things. The roadside tunnel was built later, but yielded nothing.
Mindat.org has a good map of the various mines around Coramba if you want to explore further. Walk Hopes Road and Cyclone Trails in Orara East State Forest to find Coramba King Mine, or look for Evening Star mine near Star Creek, or walk in Lower Bucca forest and imagine it in the days of the Mountain Maid mine.
Leaving pretty Nana Creek, this route climbs Bella Spur Rd, past the old Bella Mines to join Eastern Dorrigo Way. If you have more time (a full day is good!), you might want to consider up Eastern Dorrigo on tar a short distance before joining the Bindarri 4WD trails and visit Bangalore Falls before dropping down Pine Road.