Distance from Gold Coast: 180kms (2h 40m)
Skill Level: Easy
Head for the hills to discover old country charm, forest trails and hidden gems.
We departed the Gold Coast Saturday morning, headed for our first stop, the small village of Tyalgum, set in the foothills of the Border Ranges in Northern NSW.
After we navigate the last real traffic through Nerang, the road begins to snakes its was alongside Advancetown Lake toward Springbrook and into the Numinbah valley. Past Natural Bridge (a perfect day trip through beautiful countryside from the Gold Coast), across the boarder into NSW and on to Chillingham where we turn right and meander through undulating hills and winding pastures to arrive in Tyalgum in time for morning tea.
The trip takes about 1.5 hours. The road is narrow and windy in places but is sealed the whole way with some roadworks near the boarder.
The country around Tyalgum village is stunning. Filled with green, rolling hill it's hemmed by the Border Ranges to the south and Lamington National Park to the west.
But it's not just the landscape that we love about Tyalgum, it's the village itself and the people who make it a mystical wonderland of artesian discovery. Filled with artists, craftspeople, travelling merchants and purveyors of fine goods you'll find Tyalgum village a true delight. Take a peak behind Flutterbuys café in the main street to discover the best arts, crafts, coffee and cakes. Friday evenings is a must do with pizza night with a live show complete with Gin bar!
The showgrounds at the end of the main street in Tyalgum have powered and unpowered camp sites available with basic showers and toilets. Sites range from $20 - $25 per night.
Mebbin National Park
From Tyalgum we head on to Mebbin National Park towards Cutters Camp 13 kms to the south. The road turns to gravel about 8kms out of town. Entering the park it narrows down to single lane but there is plenty of room to pass if needed and it remains an easy forest trail all the way through the park.
Cutters Camp ground is about half way into the park on Byrrill Creek. Set in a pretty forest setting there is a large open area with toilets and fire pits for campers. It's a great spot for bushwalking and families and very easy to get into and out of. You'll need to book via Parks NSW to stay.
From Cutters we continue on through the forest track until we reach the Kyogle road and turn right. 23kms later Link Road appears on the right which is our que to turn toward Hanging Rock falls.
Hanging Rock Falls
It's dirt all the way but easy forest trail, wide and flat and a left turn into Williams Road has us arriving at the entrance to the falls in a few short minutes later.
Hanging rock falls is a popular and very picturesque swimming hole nestled into rainforest. It's short walk from the car to reach the water and would be a great place to escape the heat on a summers day. It's winter so we take a few photos and continue west on Williams Road which eventually re-joins the Kyogle road. From here is a 40 minute drive to Kyogle. It's bitumen all the way and the road gets quite windy as it snakes its way up to the plateau and then down into down.
Kyogle, in the heart of the Northen Rivers district is known as 'the gateway to the rainforest' and started life as a timber camp in the 1830. Retaining its wholesome country charm through until today, Kyogle is a great base to start exploring any of the five National Parks nearby. Richmond Range, Toonumbar, Border Ranges, Wollumbin and Nightcap National Parks each have so much to offer hikers, campers, photographers and more.
Minyon Falls is a highlight of Nightcap National Park
We stop for lunch at Kyogle (and highly recommend the bakery in the main street) and then press on.
From Kyogle, there are two ways to get to our ultimate destination, Peacock Creek Camping Ground in the Richmond Ranges National Park.
The first takes you south via the Summerland Way, then west onto McDonalds Bridge Road, through Dyraaba and into the Richmond Ranges via Sextonville Road. Its a magic drive through the roling countryside with bitumen all of the way except at the entrance to the park where it turns to gravel. Accessible by 2WD vehicle, its an easy forest trail from there to the camp ground. This way is 47 kms from Kyogle and we arrive in just under an hour.
The second route takes you from Kyogle to Toonumbar Dam and then onto Peacock Creek Camp via Iron Pot Creek Road. Again it's a magic drive through some beautiful countryside however due to the steep rutted condition of Iron Pot Creek Road it's 4WD only. In the dry it's fine, you could probably do it in high clearance 2WD vehicle however in the wet I wouldn't think it would be too much fun, even in a 4x4. Either way, taking this route will take you a little over an hour from Kyogle.
Peacock Creek Camp Ground
We arrive at the camp ground late afternoon after a magical drive in the sunshine through the countryside. We're not alone, there is a large group of dirt bike riders and a couple of small vans but the camp ground is big plenty enough for everyone.
NSW National Parks recently spent some time and money upgrading the camp ground with new built in tables and fire pits. There's a clean drop dunny onsite and it looks like they have installed numbered campsites however nobody seems to worried about marking territory. Indeed when we meet the ranger the next day, he's pretty relaxed and takes the time to flag us down on the track, just to see if we were ok, we knew where we were going and we were aware of the condition of Iron Pot Creek Track. He notices our rental 4x4s, chuckles and says we'll be fine before moving off.
We set up camp next to a brand new table and look like we are the first to use the firepit. It get's cold that night, really cold and we are glad that we had the that huge space in the back of the Gladiator for all of the firewood we bought with us.
You'll need to book via the NSW NP website or give them a call before you go. It appears the old days of pay and display are over. Either way it was a great play to stay and we had a cracking night with our mates, falling into our super comfy roof top tent mattresses.
The next day we tackle Iron Pot Creek Road which not really that steep and is just rutted out in a few places. Our Jeeps make light work of it and going slow we navigate without the need to even engage 4WD. The road (It's a track that does get narrow in a few places and if your not careful you will get the odd scratch from the odd overgrown shrub growing either side) follows a ridge down into some farm land and on to Toonumbar Dam. There's a concrete fjord at the base of the damn that the river was well below but I dare say it would be flooding at times.
We head home via Kyogle and Murwillimbah arriving early Sunday afternoon. The trip from the Toonumbar dam wall to the Gold Coast is an easy 2.5 hours.
Kyogle and surrounds is such a fantastic place and only a short distance from the Gold Coast with so much to explore. We only touched the surface on this trip and can't wait to get back.