We’ve previously explored the Upper Macleay driving the Armidale-Kempsey Road and then Raspberry Road down to West Kunderang before continuing to Wollomombi. This route traverses the Styx River forests between Point Lookout and the Armidale-Kempsey Road, and is a nice dirt alternative to Waterfall Way with lots of possibilities for detours to Eely Creek Fire Lookout and other 4WD trails.
We camped at the state forest campsite alongside the Styx River at Wattle Flat. A good spot for a swim, and a new toilet block, but the site was quite weedy after the wet summer.
The altitude within Styx forests varies from around 1400 metres near Point Lookout, to 200 metres in the creek valleys flowing to the Macleay, with a wide range of forest types and some good views. Close to where Styx Forest Way meets Point Lookout Road, in Cunnawarra National Park, is Beech Lookout, with a view over the ranges to the south-east.
Downstream of the Styx River bridge on the Armidale-Kempsey Road are the Styx River Falls.
The more accessible Threlfall scheme at Gara Gorge was one of the first hydro electricity schemes in Australia, built to supply the local Hillgrove mines with power. The Gara river water supply was unreliable however, and the town at Hillgrove went dark. The Styx River, however, had plenty of water.
An hydro electric power scheme was built in the Styx River gorge around 1906, despite considerable engineering challenges that required timber trestle, tunnels and the lowering of the power station equipment on a steel cable down a cliff face. Electricity flowed in late 1907, but within a year, the Styx had flooded, damaging the flume. The pipe line was upgraded, and the turbines at the power station produced 250 horse power. The Eleanora Mine closed in 1915 and the equipment was removed and sold off.
Dogs are allowed in the State Forest, but not in Cunnawarra National Park.