WOOLGOOLGAOFFROAD.....about me

I started Woolgoolga offroad back in the early nineties, after moving north of Coffs Harbour. Not only do love medium to hard days, l also love getting out and exploring our wonderful north coast with it's array of rainforest, long stretching beachs and our awesome views. Several times a year we venture afar for camping trips, and depending on our work schedules it determines on how far we go.

The best feature we have, here at Coffs Harbour, is that it is the closest spot on the east coast where the great dividing range meets the pacific ocean. So this means, we lock our hubs in when we turn off the highway, cant get better than that !

Over the last few years i have been lucky enough to have competed in various competitons, with various degrees of success. Travelled extensively in and around the north coast, west to the Olgas, The Flinders, Ayres Rock, Kings Canyon around the simpson desert and to the centre of Austraila.We have traversed through and around several deserts that include- The Simpson, Strezlecki, The Stony just to name a few.

The idea of my blog is to highlight the travels where I go and what is happening in my 4wd and camping world.

I always hear people from our generation saying "Ahh, living the dream" when they are doing something out of the ordinary - for example: sipping cocktails in a spa at a fancy resort or perhaps they post "living the dream" as the caption beneath a photo of them moving into their new $500,000+ mansion-esque home they have just mortgaged their life away for. At first I was confused by how simple my ambitions were. All I wanted was to live in a caravan and be able to spend as much time enjoying the outdoors with a partner ( anyone out there ??) and my daughter, surrounded by friends and without my partner having to be at work all the time.

So for me, this became my simple dream. I find myself having those "Ahh living the dream" moments when I am sitting in a natural hot spring with my partner and daughter and maybe a few friends around too , drinking a beer, and maybe ten feet away from a crocodile inhabited river. Now all I need to do is to work out which way I shall turn at the roundabout at the end of the street.

Another passion of mine is photography, i have a host of albums on my Facebook page so   jump across to my page and browse my photo albums of places where I have been, explored and discovered. We are lucky enough to live here on the Coffs Coast, so there is always plenty of places to get out to take advantage of any weather conditions that may arise. I will also be writing about personal experiences and more.


Or another alternative is to take time and check out this online publication, great for those soft roaders 
http://issuu.com/coffscoast/docs/coffscoasttouringtrailsfinalissuu

And yes I know I post a lot of pics, but dont they say a picture tells a story ??
Anyone keen for a trip ?

Make sure you add me on Facebook and Instagram too !!!
https://www.facebook.com/woolgoolgaoffroad

https://www.instagram.com/woolgoolgaoffroad/

Kev
woopi4x4@bigpond.net.au











TRAVELLING SOLO WITH A CAMPER TRAILER

Is it safe and ok to travel solo with a camper trailer these days ?

There’s lots of pros and cons about this these days, but on my last few trips it’s been playing on my mind. With the phone network getting better and better and the advancement of different social media outlets that include Facebook, Instagram and texting it is good to keep in touch if something happens. Sounds silly but often l find in remote locations sometimes a text wont go through but a posting on Instagram ( @woolgoolgaoffroad ) will work. At least this way if anything happens someone can see your last position post. Using social media can definatly help when you have service. We live in a funny land regarding network service. I’ve been in some bloody remote location and sometimes can get 1 bar of service-not enough to make a call but enough to send something out, just maybe the wind might of been blowing the right direction from a remote community,oil or gas station. Then on the other hand the signal drops out on the towns outer-limits, now that’s frustrating. 

The looks you get from other travellers can be painful too when setting up solo with a trailer. Can just hear the chatter, ‘too big, why ?,bit silly, better having a swag or tent’ and so on. Most of my big trips are done solo with a trailer but just last year l did a two week trip out through the corner and back with just a tent and it was great. Nice and simple with my fridge, plenty of water, $20 cooker and sleeping gear. But you know what ? all of that gear still filled my 4wd. Throw in a self inflating mattress, sleeping bag, box of food, spares, camera plus tripod and tools but it was great. Simple and easy-setup tent, pull out awning from car, cook on the back tailgate and not having to worry about having something behind you as you explore areas. Maybe this is the answer. But then I suppose it depends on big your 4wd is too.

There is no right or wrong answer and definatly no rules for solo travelling but as I’m getting older I’m thinking more and more of it. Sure you can have some great times but enjoying it by yourself is a little tedious sometimes. At least you have all the planning rights for the trip.
People often get into the notion of they are going to remote areas and need 4wd, need the biggest fridge and need what-not, yet you start talking to them and they may not even be going off the bitumen and if they do they will see some kind of town every day sometimes two, which are good for supplies and fuel. Too often I see people without the basics and essentials for outback remote when travelling solo like UHF radio, GPS unit, first aid kit, unprepared vehicle and just no bloody etiquette like slowing down on dirt roads or no lights on when it’s dusty. When you do get to a camping area how close is too close to setup camp ? Sometimes I tuck away from the others so I can still see them through the trees or across the way just for a little security. 
This brings another equation into solo travelling and camping. You’ve spent weeks and months setting out a big trip plan and for most of your trip you stick to it. One day you decide to head off your plan and something happens, might be something mechanical, food poisoning or even an injury from a walk. Who do you depend or rely on ?. It’s these little things that you need to be careful of. Speaking of breakdowns, you need to rely on your mechanical knowledge to fix any issues that may arise-no one else to help out.

Don’t let all of this stop you exploring the outbacks remote areas, but just be prepared. Maybe head away in school holidays when there is more traffic around-sure it may be busier on the roads but good for your personal safety and if you have any breakdowns. Make a plan and pass it on to a trusted person, maybe start a FB or Instagram page where your friends can follow and track your journey. If you do feel the need to tow a camper solo buy a simple setup type. There are a few out there, don’t buy one with all the bells and whistles as these generally take two people to set up and are just too big. Keep things simple, quick to set up and carry minimal but basic items, if you haven't towed before do a course and understand what is going on behind you. 





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I suppose it’s not ideal for a solo traveller to drag a camper across the country side for a few reasons;



1..too big…I mean do you really need all the gear associated with a camper for just one person, may be comfy for a week or so but geez lots of gear and stuff to drag around unnecessary. 

2..too long to set up…I know there is no ‘average’ time to set up a trailer as there are a host of different setups out there, but if you allow 20min+  for a couple to set a trailer up just how long would it take a solo to setup and would you be able to manage 20+ poles with ropes ?.

3..bad fuel economy…trust me-dragging a tonne or two behind your tow rig does take its toll and it doesn't matter how big or small the trailer is and when you hit the rough stuff economy does suffer off-road.

4..limits access to areas…sometimes it gets that rough, tight or just plain tedious towing that you want to give up or just go home. Some places could be steep, bloody ridiculous small camp allocations or too rough to keep towing.

5..cost…if you already don’t have one, why spend thousands on one ?..I mean $10 k can pay for a stack load of fuel to travel with, some great gear or even accommodation at caravan parks every now and then.


6..safety..this really got me thinking on my last few trips. Some remote spots I’ve felt uneasy at different spots at night. Waking at night with a tingling feeling-maybe wild dogs or dingos outside, wild cattle rummaging through the area at night to very remote places where if anything happened-no one might know for days, other campers partying through the night, gun shots the list goes on.








COPETON DAM

Most people have heard of Copeton Dam just up near Inverell in northern NSW. The facts are pretty impressive - 3 times the size of Sydney Harbour when full, some of the best freshwater Cod fishing around ( monsters up to 1.3 meters are caught regularly ), 104 metres deep and offers an array of water sports on the dam. But to be honest this place is amazing with some of the best water front camping you'll find and with history abound in the area. 

Inverell and the nearby Gwydir Valley just north of the dam needed a new water supply, so back in the 1930’s a proposal was planned to dam the current location for irrigation to the ever increasing agricultural production. WW11 came around and funds dried up but wind the clock to 1966 and the current location was approved with work commencing in 1968. It took 5 years to complete the wall and further additions have been improved the past few years with external spillways and 9 massive gates. 

Prior to the valley being flooded, two small towns - Copeton ( formally Boggy Camp ) and Dasey town were busy suppling workers to the nearby gold mine and along with stockyards, a cemetery and buildings they all now lay deep underwater. It’s not until the dam suffers with a severe drought that relics rise from the deep. Back in 1994 the dam registered a 2% water level and it was possible to see some of the 39 cemetery headstones, the mine tower and old fence lines.

Most people head to Copeton for the magical camping and water sports where you can fish, sail, jet ski or just swim in this vast waterway, and with around 45 square kilometres of water to explore it’s not hard to find a quiet cove. Choices for camping are pretty darn good too with kilometres of free camping to paid sites at the Inland Water Holiday Park. For a small fee head to the northern side of the dam along Auburn Vale Road from Inverell. With waterfront sites, fires and dogs permitted, basic showers and toilets, plenty of boat launching spots with total serenity you'll fall in love here. Free camping can be found on the Eastern side coming in from Howell, with no facilities you need to be totally self sufficient as it’s a long way into town if you forgot the loo paper. 

The Inland Water Holiday Park is nothing short of an amazing place. Here you can camp as hard as you want away from others, camp on the waters edge, have grassy sites, near facilities, fires are allowed and with 24km of water frontage on 1000 acres there is somewhere for everybody. From the moment you arrive you are made at home from one of the many staff that are passionate about their job and the dam. The kids and big kids at heart can be kept busy for days with playgrounds, golf course, canoe hire, walking trails and much much more. Don’t be surprised when you take a stroll around the park and see the vast array of wildlife from Deer, Pelicans, resident Emu’s, plenty of kangaroos, predatory birds to squawking Plovers. It’s not until you drive this mammoth park to realise just how vast it is and the options available. 

This area is also known as part of the fossickers way where you can scratch around for gems and coloured stones. Not people know that diamonds were found in this area. On the eastern side of the dam just near Howell, the Conrad Mine began operation back at the turn of the century when Diamond’s and Tin were found and over the years the mine hit good times and bad with problems with arsenic, water and collapses. Some of the original shafts that were all dug by hand are nearly 250 feet deep. Eventually the good fortune ran out and the mine was shut in the mid 1950’s. Currently safety procedures are in place to clean the site up and to preserve it for historical reasons. While the Conrad mine was operational other areas were explored within the region and smaller mines were opened with some degree of luck with a host of other gems and minerals found. Sapphires were found in the area and by 1970 there were over 100 mining operations in the district all searching for this shiny stone. Inverell is now known as the Sapphire City.

Halfway between Copeton Dam and Inverell on the Copeton Dam Road, the local shire has put aside a large lump of land where you can fossick for free. Sign posted at Staggy Creek it’s only a short drive through several paddocks ( keep the speed down and shut the gates ) to the digging fields. Staggy Creek Reserve is part of an ancient creek bed where it’s been eroded down to what it is today. Even though the ground has been dug over for the past 20 years it’s still pretty exciting to scratch around for an alluvial Diamond, black Tourmaline, Tin or clear Quartz. The best way to explore here is just to walk around and check out the amount of holes ( shafts ) that others have dug. Either dry sieve or if there is any water in the small dam let the water wash the dirt away and hopefully to expose a surprise or two. 

On the eastern side of the dam not far away the hamlet of Tinga holds hidden mining history dating back to 1841 when Tin was discovered and mined. With some 6000 people working in the area the Tin was soon exhausted by 1890 and the boom was over. The Chinese worked and lived amongst the miners and their heritage is still prevalent in town where several buildings and a museum still stands. 

Tingha has a quaint little caravan park where for a few dollars offers honest sites with basic facilities, you’ll also receive local info on where you can scratch for gems and maybe a little secret local knowledge on where the locals and die hard diggers go. For the first timers, head to the Tingha Sands Quarry on the Howell Road. For a measly few dollars you can dig around in their piles of sand and washed dirt for crystals as small as jelly beans up to palm size. The kids will love the easy digging in a safe location.

Weekend fossickers still flock to this area to try their luck in the towns creek and outer bushland. There are old mullock heaps left beside mines in nearby forests where digging is easy to look for Crystals, Jelly Beans, Smokey and clear Quartz and much more. Deep in the forests at Tingha there are relics of an old stone bakers oven and a few baking pits. Even better still the site and unground wine cellar of the Mannix Hotel can be found nearby. The story goes is that the pub burnt down and then shortly after the owners young daughter fell down a mine shaft and died. Unfortunately the owners had enough bad luck in this area and decided not to rebuild the pub and moved away never to be seen again leaving only a stark reminder where their little girl was buried. 


It’s not a trip where you'll experience extreme 4wding, maybe you wont even lock the hubs but wether it be a family weekender to a fossicking trip away the Copeton area has some of the best camping you'll find, history and relics can be found and if your lucky you might even find a gem or two. 










COFFS TOURISM

So I've just worked out why people get frustrated with this area and move away for work. I have been in this area for 34 years now, a lot of this time working either directly or in-directly with or for tourists. I have a local blog with an array of local 4wd and camping destinations with over 200 000 views, my google + account where l share the same destinations is currently around the 1.4million views worldwide, l have written two books on 4wding on the coffs coast, have hosted many DVD and TV crews for shoots on the coffs coast, written a host of travel destinations for national recreational magazines, held and organised quite a few 4wd and camping weekends for groups, have submitted touring maps and articles for coffs council and coffs coast marketing, been featured in Focus magazine with what l do- and dabbled in other similar areas. Sure there are other things l have accomplished. Know the area, know hot spots, know the walks bike trails, can setup activities, groups, events etc, can take half decent pics blah blah and a lot of it self funded. Been to uni for Tourism and Travel certifications, done my Photojournalism, Training and assessment, have a working relationship with the first class luxury accommodation etc. 

http://woolgoolgaoffroad.blogspot.com.au

https://plus.google.com/105368627936530828763

So with all this experience there is no work here on the Coffs coast in the tourism industry for me----yet l get a successful application for tourism work in the west starting at $74,000 + super !!!


Go figure Coffs harbour tourism.....maybe its time to re-evaluate














CURRAWINYA NP...QLD with CTA

Heard of Currawinya NP in far western QLD ?...
In this months edition of Camper Trailer Australia magizine you can read all about the amazing features that this place holds. Ruins, waterholes, big sheds, remote camping, the twin lakes and it's home to the all Aussie marsupial- The Macrotis. Thanks to CTA for following my outback adventures, On sale now and at only $8.95 this months mag is a whopper.....
Camper Trailer Australia​ 4X4 Australia​ Visit Queensland, Australia​ Experience Outback Queensland, Australia​ TRED 4x4​ Mean Mother 4WD​ Hema Maps​ Rhino-Rack​ Currawinya National Park​ Roothy​ John Rooth​ #currawinya #outback #touringnotrashing Metalian Australia​ Road Tech Marine - RTM​ Engel Australia​ OffRoad Systems​





CULLENDORE STATION

Cullendore is in the heart of granite country where unique borders sit quietly weathering away. This is a secluded station where you travel nearly 3 km from the front gate just to office, and then some to the many camp grounds around the property. To welcome you when you arrive, Stuart, Wendy and their son Matt go all out in typical country style to show you around, help in any way and answer any questions. Matt does a great job suppling firewood if you need some and will even deliver it to your campsite. A property map with named tracks and an information sheet is provided when you book and gives you all the relevant information.
Cullendore is a 4000 acre working cattle station, yet the owners have set aside nearly half for outdoor activities from camping, mountain bike riding, canoeing, bushwalking and has nearly 20 km of 4wd tracks located on the property. Now don’t come here expecting twin diff locked kind of tracks as this isn’t a 4wd park. The trails here are only to explore this expansive property.
Some tracks you will need to engage 4wd so you don’t do any damage, wether it be heading down to the Maryland River for a swim or heading out to the Lookout for the most stunning views into the distance. The owners have spent the past three years getting this property up and running with pristine campsites in several locations, installing flushing toilets and hot showers and with the popularity of this hidden gem they are soon opening more secluded camps with facilities.












CUNNAMULLA

The locals in Cunnamulla- western Queensland, all say their town is ‘’appealing naturally !!’’, …to me it was just another pass through town to somewhere else, until now. I was actually passing through to go further west but several very hot days had me grounded in the Cunnamulla shire. Now while I love a free camp, it was decided to find a caravan park for some down time. Just 3km south of town on the Warrego River is the Cunnamulla Riverside Caravan park, with plenty of sites for the big vans they also have a paddock area where you can find a little piece and quiet on the river bank if you don't need plug in power. They have easy access to the Warrego River and for the cooler times there are fire pits at most camp sites. They call it ’The free camp area !!’’.
Cunnamulla is a good 800 km drive west of Brisbane and could be called the gate to the outback with several major highways intersecting the town. Back in 1846 Sir Thomas Mitchell explored the floodplains of the Warrego River, but being so far away from the goldfields and other favourable areas, growth was slow. But by 1860 there was an influx of settlers and graziers a courthouse was built and the Cobb & Co coach came to town. Soon
Cunnamulla the was becoming the hub for several intersecting stock routes the population grew and with that the railway came to town, shops opened including a soap maker and a cordial factory, a school was built and new areas were being discovered.