We access Orara West State Forest by walking along Star Creek Road, just beyond Coramba. The bridge across Star Creek was built around 1938 for forestry purposes, high enough to be above flood water. The bridge approaches can still be seen on the creek banks and the huge logs lie in the river, covered with flood debris. Clearly not high enough.
After crossing the creek, we take the left fork and climb steeply on single track, an old snig track 618/6 not shown on most maps, until we intersect with Comlaroi Road. Up top, the ridge line is pleasant walking in the spring sunshine, with wildflowers, a shy goanna and a lyre bird crossing the track. This forest is also home to yellow bellied glider, golden tipped bats and glossy black cockatoo. We have lovely filtered views west to the range and north towards Nana Glen as we walk.
The west aspect of theses hills are dry blackbutt, but as we turn toward Hartleys Ridge Road, the forest becomes moister with rainforest in steep gullies. We zig zag to the top of Bald Knob, a 467m high peak. From the grassy slopes we can see east to Karangi Dam, End Peak and Mt Coramba, and the sea beyond.
On our way back, we had planned to look at snig track 618/3 which leads down to Star Creek (shown on the forestry map) but we were so busy talking we missed the turn off! Oh well, next time.
This is a great fitness training walk with both steep hills and distance. We parked where Star Creek Road turns off Eastern Dorrigo Way, you’ll be glad of the flat recovery section back to your car after the calf shredding ascent and quad quivering descent.
Update (October 2022): Coffs Trail Runners note numerous tree falls and some scratchy lantana growth since we last walked this. Pack your secateurs?
Evening Star mine
Evening Star mine, like the nearby Coramba King and Nana Creek gold mines, formed part of the Orara Gold Fields. It was developed in the mid 1890s by Mr A Cadell, with a tunnel, three shafts and adits. There are some other mines near Star Creek in this area of Orara West State Forest, including one cryptically called Who Can Tell. Within a decade, the miners had moved on and talk had turned from gold to dairy at Coramba.
From gold to fibre optics and bullets
Now there are trenches of another sort in these hills. High on a ridge line we pass a couple of bright yellow signs indicating a fibre optic cable runs through this remote forest, so dial before you dig.
More important than the yellow sign, however, is a bright red sign on the track informing us of the danger from stray bullets from the rifle range in the Dairyville valley below. You don’t want to be walking here on days that the Sport Shooting Association are active – usually Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday, but check their website to confirm.