NIGHTCAP NP & Whian Whian SCA BUSHWALKS
WORLD HERITAGE STATUS
World Heritage refers to the Gondwana Rainforests of the Australian World Heritage Area. This is a series of over 50 rainforest national parks and reserves stretching along the Great Escarpment of the Great Divide from Barrington Tops to south-east Queensland. The Nightcap Range forms part of the World Heritage Area and was inscribed on the World Heritage List in recognition of its outstanding universal value. World Heritage Areas are irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration, places of such value that the international community has agreed they must be conserved for all time.
These Rainforests contain plants and animals with direct linkages to the ancient forests of Gondwana; a fascinating landscape history of volcanoes and massive continental uplift, and habitats for a great variety of threatened plant and animal species of outstanding universal value. Gondwana Rainforests contains many plants and animals in widely separated populations which has led to genetic divergence and evolution of new species. Gondwana Rainforests also includes ‘hot spots of biodiversity’ with more than 200 rare or threatened plant species and more than 80 rare or threatened animal species. The Gondwana Rainforests World Heritage property represents major stages in the earth’s evolutionary history. Rainforest is the oldest type of vegetation in Australia.
Almost 5,000 hectares of Nightcap National Park was given World Heritage status in 1989 when it was added to the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves of Australia (CERRA) group. This park is now part of The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage.
The name of the Nightcap is said to be derived from the ‘night camps’ that were associated with areas early settlement days.
The Whian Whian State Conservation Area adjoins the south-east side of the Nightcap National Park and has similar vegetation communities and natural heritage values. At the time of World Heritage listing the SCA was state forest and not nominated. The SCA will be considered under future re-nomination of the World Heritage Gondwana Rainforests property. The Whian Whian SCA has recorded a total of 520 plant species which is nearly 10% of the states species and 276 native animal species.
The Nightcap Range rainforests formed on Nimbin rhyolite and are composed of several rainforest types pre-dominantly warm temperate rainforests. Large areas of wet sclerophyll forests are also preserved. These include rainforest understorys dominated with canopy trees that include giant tallowwood, flooded gum, brushbox or blackbutt. The Brushbox forests at Terania Creek are amongst the oldest dated trees in mainland Australia, being some 1200yrs old.
Recently the entire region of the forests of Eastern Australia were identified internationally as the 35th Global bio-diverse hotspot in the world. This is only the 2nd area in Australia to be declared. The other being south-west Western Australia. 2011 marked the 25th Anniversary of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia being inscribed on the World Heritage list.
LOCATION AND ACCESS
Nightcap National Park & Whian Whian State Conservation Area can be accessed by five separate public roads from the south of the park. All are 2WD dry weather only dirt roads with the exception of the access to Mt Nardi which is sealed. Details to each of the separate entrance to the park are given below. Flooding does close roads during the summer wet season so check road conditions before you set out and some parks will shut if affected by storm damage so check the NPWS website as well.
Walking Tracks Around Minyon Falls
Fine views of Minyon Falls can be obtained from several of the walking tracks within Minyon Falls Flora Reserve. The tracks pass through a wide variety of forest types, from the deep cool white booyong & palm sub tropical rainforests on the valley floor to the tall moist blackbutt forest escarpment trees of the valley rim. The uninterrupted 100m drop of the falls is the focal point of the area.
If thinking of walking some of the more remote tracks it would be a good idea to obtain the Huonbrook Map 9540-1-N.
Minyon Grass Picnic Area
This picnic area is the first point of interest you will come to along the Minyon Scenic Drive, from the Rosebank entry. An elevated viewing platform provides excellent views of Minyon Falls and the Booyong sub tropical forests of Minyon Falls Flora Reserve. The sheer rhyolite cliffs which have formed an amphitheatre around the falls add to the experience.
The picnic area is located in a forest clearing set amongst large old hollow bearing scribbly gums where gliders live. Koalas can also be seen here. Picnic facilities include covered picnic tables, gas bbqs and wheelchair friendly toilets. This is a day use area only.
Minyon Grass —Minyon Falls Base Walk
(4km return, 3hrs difficult)
Allow about 50mins to reach the falls from Minyon Grass and a fair bit longer to make the climb out. Leave yourself plenty of time to make this walk as it becomes dark very quickly in this valley under the canopy of the rainforest. Wear sturdy boots as leeches are common and the track can become muddy after rain.
Starting from the picnic area, the base of the falls can be reached along a 2km walking track along moderate to steep downhill grades. The walk initially leads you through the hardwood forests of blackbutt, scribbly gum and flooded gums. Then as you descend into the rainforest you will see magnificent large old heavily buttressed strangler figs, brushbox, coachwood, sassafras, and white birch.
The walk continues through the lush Bangalow Palm forests of the valley floor alongside Repentance Creek. The understory contains fine examples of stream lilies & helmholtzia lilies which put on a beautiful display of white flowers in summer (Dec). The Minyon Falls Flora Reserve preserves undisturbed samples of these unique forest types, in a magnificent setting around the falls. This sub tropical rainforest includes 23 major fruit producing trees with at least 6 different fruits available each month. 34 birds play an important role in seed dispersal and some of these include the catbird, bowerbird, figbirds and lewins honeyeater.
Stream Lily bud
Stream Lily flower
Once you reach the creek crossing you turn right and head to the base of the falls. The track disappears and the last 100–200m is a rock scramble. Well worth it when you reach the beautiful plunge pool into which the waters fall a shear 100m drop. A great place to have a swim but please do not use sunblocks & insect repellents which will harm the rainforest frogs. Some of the wildlife you could expect to encounter are wompoo & wonga Pigeons and an assortment of other rainforest pigeons and birds including the catbird, tawny frogmouth & king parrot. Yellow-tailed black cockatoos, wedgetail eagle, pacific bazza and other raptors can be seen at the higher altitudes and pademelons, koalas & bandicoots can be seen around the picnic area on dusk or dawn, when you might even spy a squirrel, sugar or yellow-bellied glider. The long-necked turtle and platypus can be found in the creek along with a variety of frogs. Remember to sit quietly for about 10 mins if you want to see these critters. Keep an eye out for the bush turkey, coastal carpet python and red-bellied black snake along the walking track.
You return the way you came. If you wish to complete the Minyon Falls loop then return to the main trail, cross the creek and walk up the other side of the valley to Quandong Falls. See below
Quandong (Condong) Falls Walk
(1–1 1/2hrs to walk from the base of Minyon Falls to the top of Quandong Falls, moderate — steep walk).
After crossing the creek near the base of Minyon Falls you start the uphill walk to Quandong Falls. About half way up you reach an area where a cluster of large old growth trees can be seen. This is a great place to have a break and listen to the rainforest birds while you take in these majestic old giant trees.
As you continue up the track you will arrive at Quirks Firetrail, turn left here for the short 350m walk to Quandong Falls.
The locals call Quandong Falls the “Window to the Universe”, however Quandong refers to the blue quandong tree that is prevalent in the area, Condong being the Aboriginal name for the tree. Not as grand as Minyon Falls, Quandong has its own charm and serenity. You can watch the eagles soar on the wind currents and listen to the lyrebirds playing in the understory. The red cedars in the valley below Quandong Falls are an impressive sight when they flush in summer. The pools at the top of the falls is a great place to cool off and get wet.
Grass Tree flower spike
You can return the way you came to reach Minyon Grass or continue to Minyon Falls picnic area via the ridgetop trail with its magnificent large old escarpment trees(scribbly gums) and excellent views of the Falls. This is an easy 45min walk from Quandong Falls to Minyon Falls Picnic Area. To return via the ridgeline retrace your steps along the firetrail until you reach another track veering off to the right and follow it all the way along the ridge till you reach Minyon Fire Break Trail. Head straight across it to the creek. Easy stepping stones will lead you across where you turn right along the track to reach Minyon Falls picnic area.
The complete 6.5km walk from Minyon Grass Picnic Area via Quandong Falls to Minyon Falls Picnic Area takes approximately 4–5hrs dependant on your level of fitness.
To reach Minyon Grass from Minyon Falls picnic area head right along the main Minyon Scenic Drive for an easy 1.1km (30 mins) stroll among the gum trees.
The wildlife you will expect to see include all the rainforest pigeons, wompoo & wonga pigeons, rose-crowned fruit-doves, emerald dove, brown rainforest pigeon, catbird, albert’s lyrebird, pacific bazza, koala, pademelon, bushturkey, land mullet and possibly snakes. Its a good idea to wear boots if it is wet as leaches are common.
The rainforest plants of this subtropical flora reserve include bangalow palms, booyong, red cedar, brushbox with mixed Eucalypts such as blackbutt, flooded gum, tallowwood, scribbly gum, bloodwood and several varieties of grass tree on the ridges. Wildflowers at the higher elevations, such as orchids and lilies, also put on a brilliant display from spring to summer.
Minyon Falls Picnic Area Walks
Minyon Falls Base Walk (4–5hrs, 7.5km moderate-hard)
Minyon Falls Track signage
Minyon Falls boardwalk
Top of Minyon Falls
Boardwalk at Minyon Falls Day Use Area
Minyon Falls walking track at top of falls
Boggy Creek above the falls
This walk can also be accessed from Minyon Grass picnic area and is well signposted. This is the same walk as from Minyon Grass but in the reverse direction.
To commence the base walk from Minyon Falls picnic area start at the viewing platform at Minyon Falls. See is you can spot the endangered brown & white striped steven’s banded snake that climbs the cliffs below the viewing platform. After taking in the magnificent view of the falls and the palm filled valley, follow the boardwalk upstream 500m until you reach the creek crossing, recognisable by the permanent stepping stones. The trail crosses the creek on your left and follows the edge of the escarpment around to Quandong Falls an easy 1.6 kms walk (45 mins). This track includes the informal but magnificent Longanarra lookout over Minyon Falls and follows gentle walking grades past magnificent large scribbly gums which overhang the escarpment. Grass trees, fringed lilies (Dec flowering), Nodding Green Orchid (April flowering) and banksias form the understory.
This ridgetop track emerges at Quirks fire trail which you follow to reach Quandong Falls. You will notice the track to the valley floor and base of Minyon Falls runs off this fire trail to the left, however it’s well worth following Quirks fire trail to Quandong Falls before doubling back and descending to the base of the Minyon Falls.
Emerald Fruit Dove
Green Tree Frog
Quandong Falls is a serene forest falls that has amazing views over the valley. Take some time here to watch for eagles, lyrebirds, crayfish, turtles and platypus.
Double back to the track to the base of Minyon Falls which is a well-formed but steep track leading down through Minyon Falls Flora Reserve to Repentance Creek. As you descend you pass through massive old growth trees and the beautiful bangalow palms, blue fig and red cedar. The rainforest of the valley floor grows on red soils which originated from the basalt flows that underlie the Rhyolite cliffs surrounding the falls. Once you have crossed the creek at the bottom, head left (upstream) to the base of the Falls. The track disappears and its a bit of a rock scramble for the last 100–200m. The Plunge pool is the perfect place to have a swim but please no sunscreens or insect repellents as these will harm the frogs.
Bird Nest Fern
The 2km (90min) steep uphill walk to Minyon Grass rises about 100m from the valley floor. You pass through some amazing bangalow palm forests and the magnificent Booyong Rainforest with its understory of stream lilies. As you reach the higher altitudes the forest vegetation again changes to the large old scribbly gums that are the feature of Minyon Grass Picnic Area.
The walk back to Minyon Falls from Minyon grass takes 30mins and is a delightful 1.1km easy stroll along the Minyon Scenic Drive. Keep an eye out for koalas in the mixed gums and orchids in the understory.
Minyon Falls Track. (20mins, easy)
Give yourself an hour if you want to play in the creek or watch for turtles, kingfishers, frogs and platypus in the pools along the way.
From the lookout viewing platform at Minyon Falls follow the Boardwalk upstream along Boggy Creek. Once you reach the end of the boardwalk follow the walking track further upstream past a series of pretty little cascades. Keep an eye out for the shiny black land mullets that like the shady leaf litter amongst the fallen logs. These are friendly lizards about 300mm in length. The track takes you past several more bushland picnic areas and along a coral fern lined trail. Gradually the fern understory is replaced by sedges and wildflowers such as the delightful fringed lily which flowers in Summer (December).The walk emerges at Boggy Creek causeway on the Minyon Scenic Drive. Spend some time here to look at the rock shelves in the creek which are covered in miniature mosses. Rock pools formed by the swirling water can amaze you for hours with the tiny ecosystems that form in each pool.
Juvenile Land Mullet
A large old red cedar stump with clearly defined springboard marks can be seen on the side of Minyon Scenic Drive. A small plaque nailed to it reminds you of the logging days. Return back along the road through the towering gums to Minyon Falls, only 200m away. This pretty little walk is suitable for all the family as it passes through a mixed gum and rainforest canopy. Tiny wildflowers put on a beautiful show in winter, spring and summer while several varieties of rainforest pigeons can be seen all year round.
Some boggy areas can occur after rain and leeches are common so wear appropriate footwear.
Rummery Park Campground Bushwalks
There are two easy walking tracks from Rummery Park to Minyon Falls, they are the The Boggy Creek Walking Track & The Eastern Boundary Track. Peates Mountain Walk is a little longer and harder and the Historic Nightcap Track involves an overnight bushcamp for experienced walkers.
Boggy Creek Walking Track
Boggy Creek walking track
Boggy Creek cascades
Boggy Creek rock platforms
Boggy Creek cascades
Eastern Boundary Track
Peates Mountain Management Trail
Large Tree Ferns line the walking track.
A NPWS “Class 3” Track (2km one way or 4km return, easy walk)
This easy 45mins downhill walk begins at Rummery Park and leads to Minyon Falls Picnic Area along the beautiful Boggy Creek. This is a good trail to follow on hot days as you walk beneath the canopy all the way and have plenty of places to cool off in the rock pools and cascades. The track starts in a blackbutt plantation which was established in 1950 by State Forests. These tall white gums have provided a canopy for the rainforest understory which is re-emerging rapidly. It is the initial section of the track where you can see the large old red cedar stumps left behind from the logging days. Many of these must have been giants but nowadays the old stumps are covered in lush green moss and are all that remains of the Red Cedar Forests. Many small cascades and quiet pools lined with giant moss, 15cm in ht, are encountered along Boggy Creek as it babbles along beside the walking track.
Stream lilies form along the creekside and these flower in Summer. The large pools which have formed between the cascades are now home to platypus and turtles which can be seen if you take the time to look for them. Further along the vegetation changes to large turpentine & casuarina trees with an understory of sedges, grass trees, cunjevoi and a huge variety of ferns. Lots of frogs call these creek grasses their home and foamy white frog eggs can often be seen clinging to these plants. So please keep to the track so that these are left undisturbed. The stream lilies and cunjevoi flower in December as do many of the tiny lilies and fungi This is a delightful little walk that is easy enough for all the family. Good boots are needed as some patches of the track may become boggy after rain and leeches are common. Lots of rainforest birds can be seen on this walk and include wonga pigeons, rose-crowned fruit dove, paradise riflebird, king parrots and cat birds.
You can return to Rummery Park along the Minyon Scenic Drive (2.5km) or arrange for someone to pick you up but it may be nicer to walk back along the Eastern Boundary Track if you have the time.
The Eastern Boundary Track.
(2.5km one way, 45 mins, easy — moderate)
This track is an alternate route from Rummery Park to Minyon Falls Picnic Area or visa versa and provides an interesting contrast to the Boggy Creek Track. While generally an easy walk along the ridge it has some initial short steeper sections at both ends of the walk. You can enjoy some fine views of the picturesque Coopers Creek valley and Byron Bay from the ridge before it drops back through the rainforest gully into Minyon Falls Picnic Area.
Ring tail Possum
Sugar Gliders and possums live along the ridgeline in the large old hollow trees and may be seen just on/after dusk. Keep an eye out for koalas, pademelons, bush turkeys, pacific bazzas, land mullets and an assortment of rainforest pigeons and finches. There is a good mix of splendid large ridgetop eucalypts including blackbutts, bloodwood and scribbly gums while the westringia blakeana & endiandra muelleri. subsp. bracteata are the rarer flora to look for. The white christmas orchid can be seen flowering in Summer (February) at the lower elevations while grass trees dominate the ridges.
Peates Mountain Lookout Walk
(3.5km one way; 7km return, moderate 3–4 hrs)
The old walking trail to Peates Mountain (once the site of a forestry fire tower) is now closed but the informal lookout can still be accessed by foot along the management trail. The walk slowly ascends from Rummery Park at 370m to Peates Mountain at 604m, so it’s basically an uphill walk all the way. Vegetation varies and you will encounter a hoop pine plantation and wet sclerophyll forests with rainforest gullies. This is s quite a pretty walk when the wildflowers come out from spring to summer and the Nightcap Daisy is flowering. Keep an eye out for a white christmas orchid flowering in February where fern groundcovers occur. Acacia orites (mountain wattle) dominate the canopy in several locations. Red walnut, corokia, small-leafed hazelwood and peach myrtle are the rarer plants seen along the trail. Pademelons and the vulnerable long-nosed potoroo can sometimes be seen darting across the trail. Koalas can be seen wherever stands of tallowwods occur. Keep an eye out for the beautifully coloured birdwing butterfly which is also found in this area.
Satin Bower Bird
photo: Alicia Carter
3.5 km past Rummery Park, a signpost on the right hand side indicates Peates Mountain Lookout which may be reached by a short uphill 5–10 minute walk (400m). There is no formal lookout but the view is well worth the effort, even though it is slightly overgrown. The panorama takes in Jerusalem Mountain to the north, Byron Bay/Brunswick Heads to the east, and Lismore/Casino to the south. You return the same way to Rummery Park Campground. The return walk is a lot easier as it is all downhill.
The Historic Nightcap Track
This walk is an amazing 16km trail that is both scenic and rugged and includes an overnight bushcamp. It is for experienced walkers. If you plan to walk the entire track then I suggest starting at Mt Nardi as it is far easier (see Mt Nardi walks) and arrange a lift back to your car.
An easier option from Rummery Park Campground is to walk part of the track to the Tweed Valley escarpment & the Nightcap Bluff and have an overnight bushcamp.
Nightcap Bluff Walk
Peates Mountain Management
Red Cedar Stumps from logging days
Lush Treefern understorey
Old Growth Blackbutts
(10.6km one way, 4–5hrs, 21.2 km return, moderate to hard)
You will see some amazing views over the scenic rim of the caldera and can look into the spectacular Tweed Valley and see Mt Warning. Bush camping overnight at the old 'night camp' near Nightcap Bluff is a good option if you wish to take your time.
The access point where you can leave your car is at Rummery Park Campground. Commence walking through the gated Peates Mtn Management Trail past the hoop pine plantation and along the road uphill to Peates Mtn Lookout turnoff on the left (3.5km from Rummery Park & takes about 1hr 30 mins). Follow the track 400m (10–15mins) up the hill to the informal Lookout. It may be somewhat overgrown but at 604m above sea level it is still a great vantage point for the area. Return to the main road and continue another 2.1km (1hr) to the intersection of the Gibbergunyah Range Rd, Tungun Rd, Peates Mountain Rd and North Rocks Rd (known as 4 ways). This is a gentle uphill walk along the forest road and should take about 2hrs 30mins to reach the 4 ways from Rummery Park. Keep a look out for “scar” trees along the way as you pass through a variety of vegetation types.
Once at the 4 ways, walk straight ahead, along the old Gibbergunyah Range Rd for about 45 mins (1.3km) where the Historic Nightcap Track veers off to the right (it is signposted). A further 60 mins walking brings you to the Old Postman’s Tree, a huge dead giant with a hollow trunk that you can stand in with your arms outstretched. It has an internal span of almost 4 metres. Another 30 minutes along the track you approach the Nightcap Bluff which has amazing views to the east and west. Close to here is a signposted track junction, veer right and head towards the escarpment and the informal Tea Tree Lookout. It leads up onto an exposed rocky ledge for incredible views down into Huonbrook and Wilsons Creek. If you push through the scrub for another 15 metres you will see the entire caldera of Mt Warning, Mt Tarrawyra and views to the ocean.
From this point you could return along the same route to Rummery Park Campground
If you are camping overnight you may wish to take a side trip to Dirangah Rocks before returning to Rummery Park on Day 2. If so retrace your steps to the signposted track junction and continue along the Historic Nightcap Track for approximately 20 mins walk downhill to Dirangah Rocks about 1.6km from the track junction. These rocks are spectacular exposed rhyolite larva vents which have been shaped by the wind over millions of years and lie on the narrowest section of the southern rim of the caldera. The wild and rugged wilderness of the Terania Basin lies to the south of these rocks and lava tubes or a network of caves beneath the rocks are believed to have once provided a walkway through the Range for Aboriginal oldfolk. Unfortunately they silted up long ago, however the rocks are still of great Aboriginal significance.
Retrace your steps back up to Nightcap Bluff and return along the same route to Rummery Park Campground.
Blue Fig Falls Walk
Blue Fig Management Trail
Blue Fig cascades
(5km return, 2–3hrs return, easy walk)
Blue Fig management trail is located 800m west of Rummery Park Campground along the Minyon Scenic Drive. There is an informal area to park your car adjacent to the management trail entrance. This easy walk leads you along the management trail past an old flooded gum plantation and then through a magnificent rainforest to the Falls and is ideal for cycling or mountain bikes. The trail generally traverses flat terrain with a small downhill section near the falls. The return walk is back along the same management trail.
King Parrot female
photo: Alicia Carter
Blue Fig cascades
This walk should fascinate bird and nature watchers as there are lots of rainforest birds, plenty of large trees and some very plump king parrots and pademelons. Hibbertia hexandra and peach myrtle are some of the rarer plants encountered along this trail while the blue quandong fig is prevalent and the namesake of the trail.
Rocky Creek Crossing Walk (also known as the Rummery Road Walk)
Rummery Road Walking Trail
Rainforest & Palm valleys
Rocky Creek Pond & falls
(2.5km return, easy — moderate 1–2hrs)
This trail is located opposite the interpretive signage about 3.5km from the western entrance of the park on the Minyon Scenic Drive on Nightcap Range Road. This is a good place to park your car. Rummery Road management trail leads downhill all the way to the crossing and passes through areas of stunning virgin forest. These spectacular rainforests can be seen on the left of the initial section of this walk and contain an amazing biodiversity of canopy species with beautiful understory palms and massive rainforest giants. There are some magnificent large old flooded gums at the start of this walk that can be easily seen from the tree fern lined track. The trail continues downhill until it crosses Rocky Creek via a concrete causeway. This is a delightful spot surrounded by moist hardwood forest and rainforest. Rocky Creek itself is the main source of water for Rocky Creek Dam, which in turn supplies Lismore and Byron Bay, and therefore swimming is not allowed. This part of the forest was logged in the early 1970’s and replanted with blackbutt seedlings.
Endangered flora include the red boppel nut, byron bay acronychia, pink cherry, westringia blakeana, gahnia igsignis (a rare sedge), eleocarpus sp minyon and rusty rose walnut (velvet laurel). Cunjevois are prevalent as are native violets and pennywort which cling to the side of the trail. Dingoes may be encountered along this walk so best leave before dusk. It only takes about 30 mins to walk down to the crossing but allow a good hour to walk back up the hill to your car returning the same way you came.
Boomerang Falls Walk
South Boomerang Management Walking Trail
Swamp Wallaby juvenile
(2.4km loop,1–1hr 30 mins return-easy)
The walk begins from Nightcap Range Road at the parks western boundary gate. Boomerang Management Trail (south) is located just inside the entrance and this is a good place to park your car. The short easy walk along the tree fern lined trail leads to Boomerang Falls which is part of the Boomerang Falls Flora Reserve. The walk heads through some areas of large old blackbutt forests and lovely palm forests fill the gullies. Good examples of large old turpentine and brushbox trees can also be seen. Keep an eye out for pacific bazzas which nest in some of the larger blackbutts.
photo: Alicia Carter
900m from the commencement of the walk (20 mins) down the track you come to the intersection of Boomerang Falls Management Track north & south. Veer right and follow the trail another 5 mins to reach the old carpark. Swamp Wallabies are often seen here and you will see larger seed and escarpment trees as you descend. There is a nice mixture of large tallowwoods, blackbutts and bloodwoods. Just 10–20m beyond the old carpark are some magnificent specimens of these trees and they are worthy of a look before you double back to the old carpark. From the carpark head back up the trail, the way you came, for 20m and on the right hand side is the overgrown track to Boomerang Falls. A large bloodwood has fallen across the track making it difficult to find. This rough track is not promoted by NPWS as it leads to the edge of the escarpment and is quite dangerous. 5 mins along the track you will find the remains of the old viewing platform, however all that remains today is a few old planks and steel pickets. The Falls can be seen through the bushland but care must be taken. These delightful Falls drop into a secluded valley and its anyone’s guess what widlife is down there. The valley below is home to the 9ha big scrub remnant, Boomerang Falls Flora Reserve with its Booyong sub tropical rainforest. Huge Strangler figs can be seen protruding from the forest canopy and fine examples of blackbean, red & yellow carabeen and white booyong can be glimpsed through the foliage. Large old escarpment trees can be seen on the opposite ridge while bangalow palms hug the rhyolite cliffs at the base of the falls. You may hear the shy Albert’s Lyrebird or catch a glimpse of the Coxen Fig Parrot. Phone NPSW on ph 6627 0200 if you sight them.
Return the same way veering to the right at the intersection. The return walk takes about 30mins along gentle to moderate uphill grades and loops back to join the main road about 300m from your car.
Cycling is allowed on roads and on management trails in the SCA. These have been signposted as suitable for cycling.
A low level of horse riding use occurs in some parts of the Whian Whian SCA and the adjacent Nightcap NP. Horse riding is characterised by small groups of up to 10 riders (mostly 3 or 4) and for a moderate duration (2 hours to a full day). The SCA is not suitable for overnight camping with horses due to a lack of holding areas and potential conflict with other users and values. Horse riding is not permitted along walking tracks in the SCA or on management trails within the Rocky Creek Dam catchment but is allowed on several management trails outside the catchment area. Contact NPWS Alstonville Office on ph 6627 0200 for details.
Mt Nardi Bushwalks
Mt Nardi-Nightcap Range
Mt Nardi is located roughly in the middle of the Nightcap Range and numerous walking tracks start from the Mt Nardi Picnic Area, including a link track to the Historic Nightcap Track. If you would like to see some World Heritage rainforests or old growth giant escarpment trees then this is the place to go. The mature sub tropical rainforest has a clear understory of palms, lawyer vines, palm lilies & walking stick palms with large buttressed strangler figs contributing to the canopy trees. Mosses, vines and staghorns drape the large old trees and make this rainforest a truly special natural experience.
The Huonbrook topographical map 9540-1-N is a must if walking some of the more remote tracks.
History in the Park: A flying fox and shelter on the Googarna Track was used to lower logs 500 metres to the Kunghur mill during the 1940s and 1950s. The walk to the Kunghur Flying Fox is now closed as it is extremely over grown. The park also incorporates the Historic Nightcap Track- refer to the historic section of this website for more details.
Mt Nardi picnic area
Mt Nardi signage
World Heritage rainforest
Massive Strangler Fig buttress roots
Moss covered rocks
Facilities include picnic table & signage.
Access: To Reach Mt Nardi head out to Nimbin and take the Tuntable Falls road. Follow this for 8kms where it changes to Newton Drive. Continue along this pleasant sealed scenic drive for 6.5km to Mt Nardi. Interpretive signage at Mt Nardi picnic area showcases all the walks.
Mt Matheson Loop
(3km return, 1 hour 30 minutes of easy to medium difficulty.)
Originating at Mt Nardi, the Mt Matheson Loop heads downhill through the most amazing mossy lush rainforests that are identified with World Heritage status. You will be stunned by their beauty. Tall tree ferns, walking stick palms, elkhorns, stags and vines make this a magical walk which traverses through 3 different forest types.1km along the track the Pholis Gap Walk heads off to the left but continue straight ahead along the trail to see more walking stick palm forests and giant moss. Many different types of unusual fungi can be found clinging to the stumps of fallen trees. Keep an eye out for the moss covered rocks and the unique upside-down umbrella shaped spider webs on the side of the track.
Green Tree Frog
Coastal Carpet Python
You will arrive at another track junction about 500m past the Pholis Gap Junction. This is the beginning of the loop track that encircles Mt Matheson. Veer left and follow the track along the west and north facing slope. It is here that the views to the valley floor are spectacular. There are no formal lookouts so be careful on the edges of the escarpment. Further along the trail you will encounter drier vegetation communities near the cliff edges where you can see large grass trees and magnificent old growth escarpment New England Blackbutts in all their glory. You will encounter more rainforest as the tracks loops back encircling Mt Matheson where rainforest giants with huge buttress roots provide a canopy for the tangle of vines. The Historic Nightcap track splits off from this walk,and also leads to the Tuntable Falls Track (see below for details). The loop track veers to the right around the mountain where it rejoins the original track and takes you back up to Mt Nardi carpark, through that magical rainforest again.
Split Gill Fungi
Pholis Gap walk
Knarley old trees
Old hollow trees along the track
(4km return, 1–2hrs, An easy walk downhill but difficult on the return ascent)
Beginning at Mt Nardi the track meanders through lush World Heritage tropical rainforest for 600m before splitting off to the left from the Mt Matheson Loop Walk. The walk descends rather rapidly towards the escarpment edge where drier vegetation dominated by grass trees and giant new england blackbutt typify the walk to Pholis Gap. These old growth trees hang right over the escarpment in many places and are a must to see. Many have huge hollow centres which provide a nice spot to rest. Large moss covered burls are often attached to these trees. As the walk drops some 200m in elevation to Pholis Gap, walking is quite easy and you have excellent views of the dramatic Doughboy Mountain. The informal lookout from Pholis Gap is pretty overgrown but offers spectacular views of the surrounding valley.
To return you have 2 options; you can either walk back up the track you just came down or walk back along a gentler rise along the old Googarna management trail on the right hand side. This trail takes you through a logged but pretty rainforest and emerges on the main drive into Mt Nardi. Then its a short uphill walk along the road to your car at Mt Nardi. Remember to take plenty of water as you will need it on the climb out.
The track was named in honour of Athol Pholi who was killed by a tree fall while working in the area.
The Tuntable Falls Track
Tuntable Falls-Nightcap Range
(10km easy to moderate return walk)
The track leads off from the Mt Matheson Loop to the top of Tuntable Falls. It is mostly downhill to the Falls and has some steep uphill sections when you return the same way. To start your walk head downhill along the Mt Matheson Track from Mt Nardi, continuing straight ahead at the Pholis Gap Track Junction (ie dont turn left to Pholis Gap). A little further (500m) down the track you come to another junction, you can take either track as the Mt Matheson Track is a loop trail.
Moss covered Lianas
The track to the right is the quickest route to the Historic Nightcap Track which leads to the Tuntable Falls Track. Continue along this walk until you reach the next junction which is well signposted and turnoff along the Historic Nightcap Track. The track heads downhill 2.2km to the junction of the Tuntable Falls Walk. Turn right at this junction and head another 1.6km to the top of the falls. Please do not be tempted to swim at the falls as it is home to the highly endangered Fleay’s Barred Frog.
Return the same way
The Historic Nightcap Track Walk
Tea Tree Lookout from Doon Doon valley
Lush vine covered rainforest trees
The Historic Nightcap Track
Old growth escarpment Blackbutts
courtesy of NPWS
(19km, 1–2 days with an overnight bushcamp, hard walk for experienced walkers only).
To travel one way along the Track I would advise having a lift ready for you at Rummery Park Campground at the end of day 2.This track was upgraded in 2010 and bush camping is permitted, but you’ll need to use a portable stove and carry out your own rubbish. The trail suits experienced walkers and it would be best to obtain the topographic map of Huonbrook before attempting the walk.
The Historic Nightcap Track leads walkers through the spectacular World Heritage listed Rainforests and misty mountain lookouts with their massive old growth escarpment trees. The Track passes through upland cool rainforests which are dominated by large old coachwood, water gum, new england blackbutt and upland cool subtropical rainforests, before emerging onto the cliffs and escarpment edge of the Tweed Valley. Here you will experience spectacular views to Mt Warning, Mt Tarrawyra, the Border Ranges, Limpinwood NR, and Lamington NP.
The Historic Nightcap Track is both rugged and scenic and can experience extremes in weather conditions, so carry plenty of water and don’t attempt the walk if summer temperatures are high.
Parts of the original trail was used by postal workers who crossed the Nightcap Range between Lismore and Murwillumbah in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Several of the rock outcrops hold special significance with the Widjabul, so please walk with respect.
Refer to the historic section of this website for more details
To start your walk head downhill along the Mt Matheson Track from Mt Nardi, continuing straight ahead at the Pholis Gap Track Junction (ie dont turn left to Pholis Gap). A little further (500m) down the track you come to another junction, you can take either track as the Mt Matheson Track is a loop trail. The track to the right is the quickest route to the Historic Nightcap Track. Continue along this walk until you reach the next junction which is well signposted and turnoff along the Historic Nightcap Track. The track heads 2.2km downhill to the junction of the Tuntable Falls Walk. Turn left here and follow the track uphill for 2.7km to the narrow rim of the caldera and the Rocks.
This part of the track traverses a very rugged ridgeline along the scenic rim of the Nightcap Range and is a walker’s paradise where Lyrebirds are often be heard. Great views can be seen of the Mt Warning caldera and Mount Tarrawyra just before you reach Dirangah Rocks. Dirangah Rocks takes 3–4 hrs (7km) to reach from the Mt Nardi carpark and you will traverse some 300m in elevation up and down from Mt Nardi to reach the rocks. The rocks are wind eroded volcanic vents which hold special significance to the Widjabul people. The wild lost world of the Terania Valley Basin lies to the south of the Rocks and this area is known to be the narrowest point on the southern caldera rim.
Continue another 1.5km (30–50mins) uphill along the track as it steepens to reach the junction for the Nightcap Bluff (650m ht) and Tea Tree Lookout (300m ht) and find a place to set up camp. Tea Tree Lookout was also known as Dan’s Lookout in the old days. After exploring the lookouts and large escarpment trees, some walkers prefer to set up camp at the old Postmans Tree a little further along the track-see day 2.
The walk from Nightcap Bluff to Rummery Park Campground is approx 10.6km and takes about 5hrs. Before you set off have a good look around the two informal lookouts which provide magnificent views over the valley. Tea Tree Lookout is a short walk (15 mins) to the north where you see impressive views of Mt Warning and impressive large old escarpment blackbutt trees are a feature of this area.
From Nightcap Bluff Lookout continue your walk south-east along the track on the Saddleback Ridge for 30mins till you reach the Old Postman’s Tree, a large burnt out dead giant that you can stand inside. Keep an eye out for snow lichens as you continue another 60 mins further until you reach the Old Gibbergunyah Range Rd. Another 1.3km downhill (45 mins) you reach the intersection of Tungun, North Rocks, Gibbergunyah & Peates Mtn Rds (known as the 4 ways). Follow Peates Mtn Road downhill to Rummery Park Campgound. Along the way you will see the turnoff to the old informal Peates Mtn Lookout (604m) on the right. Follow the track 400m (10–15 mins) up the hill to see some more great views through the somewhat overgrown vegetation. Return to the main track and continue 3.5km downhill, 270m in elevation to Rummery Park Campground where you will encounter pademelons and satin bower birds and a host of other rainforest birds.
TERANIA CREEK BASIN & PROTESTOR FALLS
Terania campground signage
Terania campground & Day use Area
Massive Strangler Figs
The Terania Basin is home to the largest and most extensive Bangalow Palm forest in NSW. Along with its ancient 1000–1200 year old growth Brushbox trees (Lophostemon confertus). Terania Creek is also home to the vulnerable black-breasted button-quail and the endangered red-legged pademelon which can often be seen at sunset in the campground.
There is one walk to the base of Protestor Falls and the campground is short term only (1 night preferred).
To further explore the Terania Basin it would be better to join in with one of the Bushwalking Clubs as it is considered a sensitive cultural area and its very easy to get lost. (locals say if the Yowie doesn’t get you then the leeches will). The Basin houses a circle pool, the Terania cave & several mythological sites.
- Contact Nimbin Bushwalking Club
Len Martin (secretary) ph: 66890254
- The Northern Rivers Bushwalking Club Inc
PO Box 5155, East Lismore NSW 2480
The Campground was the site of the Terania Blockade in 1979 and Protestor Falls was named in honour of the conservationists who helped save this wonderful forest from total destruction. A short history of the Terania blockade can be viewed in the historic section of this website.
photo: courtesy NPWS
photo: courtesy NPWS
Directions to Terania Creek: from Rosebank shop head north along Repentance Creek Road for 1km and turn left into Dunoon Road. Head along the Dunoon Road, past the Village of Dunoon and follow the signs to The Channon. From the Channon shop, drive 14km to the end of Terania Creek Road (partly tarred then a narrow, windy, gravel road with numerous low level bridges-take care).
Moss covered trees
Terania Campground is located in a small rainforest clearing beside the babbling crystal clear waters of Terania Creek. A very beautiful spot that is surrounded by lush trees ferns, giant cunjevois and moss covered rainforest trees clad in stags and elkhorns. The facilities provided include gas bbqs, sheltered picnic tables, a large covered shelter, wheelchair friendly toilet, plenty of car-based and walk-in shady campsites and ample parking. No power or wood is supplied. Camping is by honesty system of $10 per adult & $5 per child per night.
Protestor Falls Walk
Boardwalk to Protestor Falls through
extensive Bangalow Palm forests
Bat Cave Creek below the falls
Eastern Water Dragon female
(1.5km easy return walk — 45mins–1hr return.)
The walk commences along an elevated boardwalk over the muddy ground of the spectacular Bangalow Palm rainforest. Take your time to see all the interesting things that can be found along the way including massive lawyer vines, walking stick palms, unusual root systems, fungi and the rainforest birds.
Secondary Aerial Root System
The boardwalk ends at the creek crossing where the track leads you past an enormous fig with its roots supporting the old creek bank. A gentle uphill walk then winds its way along Bat Cave Creek to Protestor Falls passing several cascades lined with stream lilies. These are a pretty sight when in flower during the summer months (December). The final short climb over boulders is assisted by a steel walkway with steps. You are rewarded with the amazing Protestor Falls which plummet over the sheer rhyolite cliff into the plunge pool. The spray from the falls, mist and wind have eroded caves at the base of the falls in the softer basalt rock. Its a sight you will not forget.
Fleay’s barred frog
Please do not swim in the plunge pool as the endangered Fleay’s barred frog lives here. Numbers in the wild are believed to be limited to only 500–1000 specimens.
Return the way you came.
Rocky Creek Dam Walks
The Big Scrub Loop (Big Scrub Remnant)
Regent Bowerbird male
Big Scrub Loop Track
Scrub Turkey Walking Track
Massive Buttressed Trees
Australian Brush Turkey
(45–60 mins easy 1.5km loop)
Access: From Rosebank head north along Repentance Creek Road for 1km and turn left into Dunoon Road. Follow this scenic windy road 6.5km past Dorroughby Hall until you reach Rocky Creek Dam Road on the right. Follow this idyllic gum lined tarred road for 2.5km keeping an eye out for the koalas that live along this stretch of the road. The first turn on the left is signposted to Gibbergunyah Road. Follow this dirt road 1.4km to the National Park entrance gates and park near the interpretive signs. Walk across Rocky Ck causeway (you will get your feet wet so take you boots off) and continue along the road for 250m. The Big Scrub Flora Reserve Walk is signposted on the right hand side. This Big Scrub Remnant is the largest example of Big Scrub rainforest left standing today.
Channel Billed Cookoo
photo: courtesy NPWS
It comprises 196 ha of sub tropical rainforest and includes fine examples of large white booyong, blackbean, purple cherry, red carabeen, blue quandong, rosewood, red bean, red ash, sandpaper figs and teak. Platypus, red-legged pademelon, long-nosed bandicoot, ringtail possum, brown antichinus, fawn-footed melomys, albert’s lyrebird, satin bowerbird, paradise riflebird and many other rainforest pigeon species live in this reserve. Keep an eye out for the oversized Fraser’s Snail which can be identified by the multiple yellow bands on each whirl.
Return the same way
Have fun and enjoy this short walk through this large old growth rainforest.
Scrub Turkey Walk
(1hr downhill easy 3km one way) Organise someone to pick you up at Rocky Creek Dam Picnic area and return you to your car or position cars each end)
Access: This walk can be commenced from Rocky Creek Dam Picnic Area but is all uphill and quite steep in sections. I would recommend that you start this walk from the Gibbergunyah Range Road entrance as the walk is then all downhill and an easy one way walk. Access is as above in the Big Scrub Flora Reserve Walk. Walk another 2.4km past the Big Scrub Flora Reserve until you reach a small sign on the right hand side of the road(which can be hard to spot). Your walk begins here.
A pleasant downhill stroll takes you originally through some fine examples of large old eucalypts including flooded gums (white barks), tallowwoods and bloodwoods. Booyong rainforest species then feature and include some massive buttressed strangler figs. Many rainforest birds can be seen eating the fruits of the rainforest and if you stop in the forest quietly for 10 mins the birds will emerge. Keep an eye out for the endangered black-breasted button quail and red-legged pademelons. Refer to the Big Scrub Flora Reserve Walk for a list of the plants and animals you might encounter on this walk.
Further down the track you reach a junction and here you have 2 options;
- Follow the track to the left and it leads over the dam spillway where you will often see an echidna foraging or water dragons sunning themselves near the water. Then turn right at the next junction and you will follow the platypus walk (an easy 1.5km–30 mins) through a beautiful patch of rainforest where lizards, rainforests birds and scrub turkeys are common. A boardwalk takes you along the creek line and eventually crosses the creek on a floating pontoon. Watch for the elusive platypus and the turtles that live in this lovely water lily filled waterhole. This boardwalk leads you back to the picnic area. Or
- Turn right and you will take the long route (an easy 2.3 km–50 mins) back to the picnic area. This goes through an area of pencil cedars and undergrowth which is home to several lizard species such as land mullets and snake species including rough scale snakes and coastal carpet pythons.
Health & Safety Tips in the Bush
Rosebank has a quite a few ‘bugs and bities’ to keep an eye out for when you are out walking. Be prepared is the best motto and watch your step. Summer time is our peak season for bites and stings so it’s a good idea to carry a mobile phone but be aware there are many blackspots within the gullies. A high point may be needed if you want reception. It is a good idea to let someone know if you are going on an overnight hike or long walk and make sure you carry a first aid kit with elastic bandages, tweezers and insect repellent. Always carry water. Here is a little advice on bugs.
(Peak Tick season starts in Aug and runs through summer to March)
We have 2 types that cause us concern they are the large shellbacks (paralysis ticks) and the tiny grass ticks. Both are very common. If bitten they may produce headaches, nausea, swelling, hives/rashes & fever. If they cause allergic reactions & anaphylactic shock sets in you must seek medical help immediately by ringing 000, then immobilise the person and wait for medical help to arrive. Remove the tick by spraying it with an insect repellent such as ‘OFF’, wait one minute then remove the tick with tweezers. Do not scratch a tick bite as it will inflame the itch and strenuous activity should be avoided if you have a bad reaction.
Mild cases can be sorted with antchistamines purchased from the chemists-Its good to carry these with you when bushwalking.
As a precautionary treatment prior to walking spray an insect repellent over boots and socks and this will act as a deterrent to leeches as well. However be mindful when crossing creeks that these repellents have the ability to harm native frog species.
No real threat here so just pull them off or leave them to engorge and they will fall off. To remove these you could also cover them with ash or salt or spray them with an insect repellent. The small bite may bleed profusely but it looks worse than it is and slight itchiness may occur. It is always a good idea to check your boots for leeches when you stop for rests especially if you have been walking through muddy conditions.
Mouse & Orb spiders are common. Their bite hurts, is venomous and tends to rot the flesh. If you react adversely ring 000 for medical advice and go to hospital.
We have several dangerous species which are mainly active in Summer. They include the Brown, Rough Scale & Death Adder. If bitten immobilise the patient, apply a pressure bandage & ring 000 immediately and wait for medical help. When bushwalking always wear boots and avoid walking in bare feet especially at night.
The WIRES website has good photos of the different snakes around Rosebank. It would be good to familiarise yourself with these snakes before attempting any walks. Snakebite advice is also given on this website www.wiresnr.org
This is a beautiful large common rainforest tree with lime green leaves. It is a good idea to learn to identify this tree and its saplings. If you brush against the leaves it will hurt and the sting will last for several days to weeks. Best advice here is to stay away from them and their fallen leaves.
Giant Stinging leaf
Giant Stinging tree