Kevin Carter was Area Manager for National Parks and Wildlife in Taree for 13 years. Kevin, more than most people, probably knows our entire area like the back of his hand, and he has no shortage of ideas about potential locations that you and your family can visit over the summer holidays …
How long were you with the National Parks and Wildlife Service?
I was Area Manager at National Parks in Taree. I’d been with them since the starting of that office in 1999, so for about 13 years.
How large is the area you managed while you were with National Parks?
This area is currently changing, but the Manning area goes from the Greater Taree Council equivalent area, which is on the highway at Wang Wauk River just after Nabiac but before you get to Coolongolook and goes all the way up to John’s River. From there, it extends off to the coast, half way through Crowdy Bay National Park on to the beach and all the way down to the southern end, just pushing down to the top end of Tuncurry Beach.
The area also goes up into the mountains for a good 800 kilometres; Nowendoc’s right on the boundary. At the moment there are 22 reserves in the area, adding up to around fifty thousand hectares.
So in terms of some of the less well known areas that people might like to explore during their summer holidays, explain where Tapin Tops National Park is located?
That’s one of our mountain parks, due west of Taree. You can get there via Elands, or you can go through Wherrol Flat. You get to travel through some beautiful old growth eucalyptus forest and some very nice intact rainforest, and it sits about 500 – 1000 m above sea level.
What are some of the things people can see and do there?
You can go to Dingo Tops rest area, where the road system joins up from the Oxley Highway to the north to Mount George and the Nowendoc road to the south. It’s a lovely spot created by the forestry in the mid ‘60s; it has some great planted Sequoia forest. In autumn time it’s absolutely beautiful, because most of the trees lose their leaves.
Kids can kick a footy and play cricket, and it’s nice and cool in summer. There’s a really nice shelter area with free gas barbies, toilets and you can camp at the other end. There aren’t a lot of camp sites, but it’s a really good site. I think you’d be rewarded if you stayed there overnight, as you’d see wallabies and the dingoes around.
In other parts of the park, a little more to the north, you can park at the foot of Rowley’s Rock and take a walk; it’s about 400 m from the car park up fairly steep steps, and at the end and you come up to an absolutely glorious 360 degrees look way back to the coast: over Taree, Old Bar, Harrington, and on a good day, you’ll see the Bucketts at Gloucester.
You can follow the map and go to the Potoroo Falls. There’s a nice little toilet and picnic area there and fresh water. You can go for a walk upstream about 500 – 600 m, and you’ll find what I call a ‘rock-hopping experience’; you have to be careful, as you will be jumping in and out of water. It’s a lovely rainforest environment.
Eventually you come to a superb waterfall, not huge, but probably about 20 metres, and it falls into a beautiful hole that you can swim in. This site has archaeological significance too, being a women’s site in Aboriginal times; there are some grooves on the rock where they used to sharpen their tools.
Another area people might like to check out is Coorabakh Park. What’s special about this area?
It’s located not very far off the highway, only about 25 km from Taree. The best way to get there is to turn off at Moorland. You need to wind your way through the State Forest, which is pretty exciting and has magnificent Blackbutt trees.
As you travel upwards, you’ll climb into the park, which is at the more rugged end of what’s known as the Coopernook Forest Way. It’s a bit of a loop road, so allow a bit of time to go up through the forest road and all the way round through the park and back through Hannam Vale.
Hannam Vale is a magnificent piece of dairy country, probably some of the best anywhere in the world, with its rich red basalt soils.
There are some interesting things in the park too. You’ll go past a place called Newby’s Cave, which is a big rock overhanging a crystal clear stream. You can jump in and out of there on the rocks and sit under a big rock hangover, which, again, has lots of significant Aboriginal value. There have been some stories of people seeing a Yowie in there!
You come out of that and climb onto what’s called Newby’s Lookout, which is a beautiful spot where you can have a picnic. It’s all very safe, but you’re able to look out and see the drop 300 – 400 m direct to the floor below. You can see Taree, the sea and everything to the south right to Forster.
You can drive down into a little cauldron and while you’re there, you will strike a huge monolithic rock – a dyke which is called Big Nellie, being a remnant of the big volcanoes of Comboyne formed millions of years ago. It’s an absolutely fantastic piece of landscape.
You will end up at Starrs Creek – a drainage pattern going back into the Camden Haven River. This is a very nice, intact subtropical rainforest and there’s a beautiful little spot to have a barbie. There’s a toilet there and a mini walk, literally only a 100 m long boardwalk that will take you through the rainforest and some gigantic Flooded Gum trees.
Climb your way out and you can drive to the base of Big Nellie and stand at the bottom looking up to see the top. It’s not recommended that you walk on the mountain, as it has a lot of spiritual value for the Aboriginal people, and it’s also a bit tricky to climb. It’s well worth a look at the Nellies – and by the way, Big Nellie is one of three formations: Big Nellie, Flat Nellie and Little Nellie.
You can then go to Flat Rock lookout, which looks to the west and into the Comboyne plateau and south to Wingham and directly down into the Upper Lansdowne valley. It’s absolutely fabulous – 500 m above the floor below you.
Allow yourself probably a good half day to do this entire trip; take a picnic lunch with you and you’ll be home by 3pm and have a wonderful time.
For people who want more information about these parks and other areas to visit, where should they go to pick up maps or advice?
By far the best place is the main tourist information centres; there’s one in Taree on the old highway near McDonald’s. Information is also available online at National Parks and Wildlife’s website: www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au