Wild camping in pouring rain, heavy fog and deep valleys within New England National Park, Northern NSW, in some of the most beautifully remote terrain.
The landscapes here are incredibly diverse. Deep valleys, gondwana rainforest, volcanic basalt, cascades, waterfalls, and beautiful wildlife.
New England National Park consists of large tracts of declared wilderness; there’s little support in the way of facilities, tracks, shelter, water, and best of all – no people.
Our plan for New England National Park west of Coffs Harbour was to hit three hikes over two days; Weeping Rock, Wright’s Lookout and finally the Cascades Track where we’d jump off trail and wild camp along the cascades further upstream.
After walking through heavy fog and zero visibility at Point Lookout, we walked down and through to the Weeping Rock trail – a short 2km return hike from the road in.
As you approach Weeping Rock you wind your way through ancient rainforest covered in mosses, ferns, fungi and fog, finally approaching a rock tunnel.
Walking out from the rock-face and into the light, you find yourself in an incredible alcove of weeping stones, damp moss and a winding descent.
The rock faces run with freezing water and fall down on us in slow motion, the size and scale of the basalt rock faces are trickery.
Still with a 4km hike down to the cascades, we abandoned Wright’s Lookout entirely to make it before night fall.
We bogged down through steep, soaking rainforest, giant ferns, a cemetery of fallen trees and scrambled over mossy boulders into the cascades.
The hike down was hard and slow. The decline was intense. Slippery. Fallen trees from excessive rains threw us off course and had destroyed several sections of the trail.
Then we made it to the roaring cascades at the foot of the valley just on dusk, and everything was worth it. We had this place to ourselves.
We couldn’t see the trail along the rocks in the fading light. Being in a steep valley, it was getting dark fast. Then it started raining, heavily – we had to make a decision.
We decided to suck it up and hike back up the steep, wet valley sides until we could find somewhere flat enough to set camp.
We found a little clearing 45 minutes back up the steep valley sides just big enough and off the trail about halfway up. It was soggy with two inches of mud, but it was flat.
We bunked together in the tent and threw up a smaller tarp for our gear outside with M&M’s and marshmallows for tucker. It poured solid rain all night. But the next morning was worth everything to be there.
The rain had cleared and we had fantastic soft light streaming in through the valley along the cascades for most of our hike back. It was pure magic.
The cascades were absolutely awesome, mesmerising, and a just reward after our ridiculous night getting down.
There’s no way we would have made it down in the dark before sunrise, the night before was worth every moment we had down here with incredible light for some great photography.
It tested us. It tested our gear. And it was an experience and an adventure for sure. But the magic of these places can’t be described in words, or captured in pictures. The experience is one to remember.