With our motorcycles out of action in the workshop, we hopped in the 4WD, driving north from Coffs Harbour to take on the forested coastal ranges of Yuraygir National Park.
We left the freeway on McPhilips Road, climbing steeply up Browns Knob Trail onto the Coast Range Forest Road. There were filtered views to the sea on the hills. A large tree fall blocked the road at one point, but there was a track through the grass to bypass it. The bush is recovering from the 2019 fires, the grass was lush and the spring flowers were out – I spotted a few orchids by the roadside.
Across Wooli Road, Candole Forest Rd is initially quite wide, smooth and fast, compared to the Coast Range road. Later however, the road gets narrow, ruts and two creek crossings slow the pace. We trail descends steeply to Bosches Waterhole Road and the coast.
Then we saw the paperbark swamp and lengthy muddy puddle. I was glad I was in the sealed metal cage of a four wheel drive! The rocky bottom hidden in the murky waterhole would have posed an interesting challenge on our adventure bikes: would we ride it standing up on the pegs which lets your bike and body move as needed but denies you the chance to put a steadying foot down if you hit an unseen uncooperative rock, or would we paddle like a duck and get very wet boots?
We ate our lunch at a picnic table at the Sandon River campsite, with a glorious view at the beautiful estaury and the bay curving into Plover Island. As the tide was low, we explored the island where Yaegl people quarried greywacke and quartzite stone and made stone and timber tools.
There are many opportunities for detours on this route if you have time. Pack a tent and overnight and one of the many campsites on the coast.
- Head down to Station Creek and for the Corkwood and Scribbly Gum walk, cross at low tide to Pebbly Beach
- A short detour along Yellow Cutting Road takes you to the intriguing Keyman statue
- Make the side trip to Minnie Water where the lovely General Store makes great coffee, and there are some short walks
- Have a look at Wooli and the river entrance
- Detour to Wilsons Head and Diggers Camp, explore the rock platforms at low tide, walk around Bare Point
- At Sandon River, walk out to Plover Island
- Brooms Head has a nice lookout – we could see Mt Coramba, Tuckers Nob and Moombil!
- Detour to Lake Arragan and look at the striking rocks at Red Cliff
Return to Coffs on bitumen, past the sugarcane fields on the road to McLean and then the A1 freeway (not shown on the map below, but included in the total kilometres)