Oxley Wild Rivers National Park

This is a World Heritage park with dramatic gorges and waterfalls, extensive wilderness, wild and scenic rivers, dry rainforest and rare plants and animals. Wollomombi is the highest waterfall in NSW and the Bicentennial National Trail passes through the park.


Getting there

This park is near...
Armidale (18 km, 20 minutes)
Walcha (20 km, 20 minutes)
Dorrigo (80 km, 50 minutes)


.Best access routes
The Apsley Gorge is 20 kilometres east of Walcha, off the Oxley Highway. Apsley is 150 kilometres west of Port Macquarie.
Road quality: paved


Access to Long Point is via the historic gold mining town of Hillgrove. Follow the Waterfall Way 32 kilometres east of Armidale to the turnoff to Hillgrove. Head south from Hillgrove for 17 kilometres along the gravel road.
Road quality: unpaved sections


Gara Gorge is 18 kilometres south-east of Armidale along the Castledoyle Road. This road leaves the Waterfall Way just east of Armidale.
Road quality: unpaved sections


Riverside is 50 kilometres east of Walcha and is reached by the Moona Plains Road. The trail is steep and a 4WD with low range is necessary. Trailers are not permitted. You'll need a permit to use this trail.
Road quality: unpaved sections


Tia Falls are 38 kilometres east of Walcha and 130 kilometres west of Port Macquarie. Access to the falls is along a 7 kilometre gravel road. The turnoff for this road is on the Oxley Highway, 19 kilometres past the Apsley Gorge turnoff (travelling from Walcha).
Road quality: unpaved sections


Kunderang East Homestead is 112 kilometres east of Armidale via Wollomombi and the Kempsey Road. Access to the homestead is along steep gravel roads and a 4WD is required. You will also need a permit.
Road quality: unpaved sections


Dangars Gorge and Falls are 22 kilometres south-east of Armidale along the Dangersleigh Road.
Road quality: unpaved sections


To get to Wollomombi, follow Waterfall Way 38 kilometres east of Armidale, or 124 kilometres west from the Pacific Highway at Urunga.
Road quality: unpaved sections


Budds Mare is 44 kilometres east of Walcha via the Moona Plains Road.
Road quality: unpaved sections


Youdales Hut is 96 kilometres from Walcha and can be accessed via Kangaroo Flat Road, which leaves the Oxley Highway 55 kilometres from Walcha. The trail is steep and a 4WD with low range is necessary. Trailers are not permitted.


Access is also possible via Carrai Road, Coachwood Road and the Racecourse Trail from Kempsey, or the Hastings Forest Way and Racecourse Trail from Port Macquarie.


You will need a permit.
Road quality: unpaved sections


Facilities & things to do


>>Walking tracks
>>Wheelchair facilities
>>Car touring
>>4WD & trail bike touring
>>Horse riding
>>Canoeing & boating
>>Adventure recreation
>>Picnics & barbecues
>>Camping grounds


Natural environment

Native plant communities
>>Eucalypt forests


Native animals
>>Reptiles and amphibians


Culture & history


>>Significant places & sites in the park
>>Slate quarry
>>Australia's first public hydro-electric scheme
>>Youdales Hut and stockyards
>>Kunderang East Station
>>Hydro-electric scheme
>>Bark Hut and Salt Hut
>>History in the park

The park area since colonisation


John Oxley was the first European to visit the New England region, passing through the area that is now Oxley Wild Rivers National Park in September 1818. The park was named in recognition of Oxley's association with the European discovery of the Apsley River and gorge system and in particular his appreciation of its wild and rugged scenery.


Following Oxley, the first white people to penetrate the remote and inaccessible gorges and valleys were the cedar-getters. Australian red cedar, known as red-gold, was felled and the logs were hauled from the hillsides and floated down-river to Kempsey for loading on ships bound for Sydney.


The cedar-getters were soon followed in the mid to late 19th century by pioneer cattle graziers who took up Crown leases to start properties such as Toorooka and Kunderang. For a hundred years the Falls Country became a vast, unfettered cattle run presided over by just a few families braving the remote wilderness.


A road wasn't built to East Kunderang until 1967 (before that access was via the river flats), and it was 1973 before electricity was connected. The Kunderang cattle were sent to market along the Macleay and Apsley valleys and out up the Moona Ridge, following a traditional Aboriginal travelling route. The property gained a high reputation for its cattle and horses. There is still some cattle grazing in the gorges, using land outside the park.


In the late 19th century several mines were established around the rim of the gorges, at places such as Halls Peak and Hillgrove, as well as two ambitious hydro-electric schemes to power them, the remains of which can be seen today along the Styx River and at Gara Gorge.


In 1976 the Apsley Macleay Gorges were identified in a landmark report as being of true wilderness quality. At that stage the public protection offered to the area was limited to two small reserves in the south, and a few local council-run recreation areas at popular sites such as Wollomombi, Apsley and Dangars Falls. With future land-use undecided, the NSW Electricity Commission began surveying the Apsley Valley for a huge hydro-electric scheme in the late 1970s.


In response to growing calls from the National Parks Association, Colong Foundation and other conservation organisations, the NSW government ordered an intensive land-use study of the gorges, which was carried out in the early 1980s. The study recorded the significant natural and cultural values of the area, and recommended a national park.

History of the park
In 1985 the then NSW Premier Neville Wran announced that a new national park would be created to the east of Armidale, Uralla and Walcha, to be called Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. The first formal gazettal of the park took place in 1986, and after some initial opposition, the park is now widely accepted as a valuable asset for the region, making a major contribution to nature conservation, cultural heritage and tourism on the Northern Tablelands.


Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of  The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service



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