Highlights:

    • Large exposed boulders providing a playground of caves, crevices and cracks to explore and climb.
    • Wildflower displays in spring and kilometres of waterholes to explore.

(Go Weeeeeessssst) Life is peaceful there
(Go Weeeeeeessssst) There in the open air
(Go Weeeeeessssst) Where the skies are blue
(Go Weeeeeeeessssst) This is what we’re gonna do
(Go Weeeeeeeeessssst!!!!!

Sometimes, my mind plays soundtracks and movies so loudly and clearly, I find snapping back to reality a discombobulating experience (my new favourite phrase). This was the problem I was having as we headed west from Grafton late on the Thursday night before the long weekend. We wanted to beat the hordes of holidaymakers and snag ourselves an epic campsite at Bald Rock National Park on the NSW/QLD border.

looking-towards-the-summit-of-bald-rock girraween

After stuffing around in Coffs making sure the car was chokkas full of snags and booze and trendy cheese, we hit the road and headed off towards the rural Idyll that is Graaaafton (you have to say it like that to sound authentic). We pulled into the Graaafton Coles car park at around 6pm for a dinner of lollies, chocolate, boiled eggs and leftover chinese takeaway. (In my opinion, an essential part of the roadtrip/camping experience is eating strange food combinations that cause surrealist Salvador Dali dreams and then telling your friends about them in the morning whilst they try and enjoy the tranquillity with their coffee.)

An hour later whilst hurtling up the Gibraltar range, due to the aforementioned dinner, my mind began to screenplay a full blown rendition of The Pet Shop Boys’ ‘Go West’ juxtaposed over visions of me dressed à la Priscilla Queen of the desert, summiting Bald Rock with a wind whipped silver sari and pretending to be in a giant shoe.(Google ‘Pricilla bus top aria’ if you are uncultured in regards to Australian film, and then slap yourself for not knowing about this classic scene.) It was pretty epic and it kept me from worrying about the rain that had set in.

the-life campfire-stars

By the time we got into Bald rock campground it was about 10pm. Its supposed to be a 3.5 hr. drive from Coffs, but what with all the lolly stops, wee stops and random breath tests because I high beamed the cops, we made it a 5hr hell drive and had just enough juice left to finish off the m&ms, chuck everything onto the front seats and curl up in the back of the wagon to the sound of thundering rain.

Bald Rock National Park is located on the border of NSW and QLD and is 20km North of Tenterfield (Tennerfeeld to sound authentically westy). Bald Rock, the feature of the park and its namesake stands about 200m high, 750m long and 500m wide. It’s Australia’s largest granite monolith or more correctly, an inselberg – an isolated rock hill. The beautiful thing about this park is that it’s a great place to use as a base. Due to it having the good old ‘first come, first served’ system, you can always find a spot.

from-the-summit-of-bald-rock boonoo-boonoo bald-rock-sunset

There are a few walks in the park but the main one is climbing Bald Rock. The climb to the top is relatively easy and short and is doable with little kids. It’s also a fantastic spot for lazy photographers like myself as you can get to the summit for astrophotography with minimal effort. The absolute best thing about this place though is the childlike glee you get from zooming around on massive exposed granite slopes, with your arms out like an aeroplane.

Using Bald Rock as a base, you can then drive to Girraween National park over the border in QLD. Girraween means ‘place of flowers’ and after the rains we had experienced, it was really living up to its name. Its adjacent to Bald Rock and has more walking tracks and things to see and do. Due to this though, its a popular park and rocking up to the car park on a long weekend over the school holidays was a bit like pulling into Disneyland. The park has been massively upgraded over the past 10 years so its accessible for all types of people. It’s a fantastic place if you have kids as there are creeks that wander through holes and crevices and tunnels that you could explore for hours. The main walk is up to the Pyramids. The more adventurous can go off the beaten track and climb the northern pyramid, which is mentioned, but not signed. Again, the whole park is littered with giant boulders and rocks that you can scramble and jump and play on. Its great fun running off the beaten track being a filthy camp stained feral whilst serious active-wearers power past all matchy matchy and glossy. Give yourself time here to be a kid again.

After funning ourselves out at Girraween, we headed back towards Bald Rock via Boonoo Boonoo falls. (Pronounced Bunna Bunoo) The falls themselves are not really visible from the platform however what makes this place awesome is the swimming holes above the falls. It’s a giant waterpark of deep rock pools, swirling spas and tumbling cascades. You could spend days just following the river up.

The whole region north of and includingTenterfield is rich in history, wineries, epic landscapes and walks. It’s also a playground for horse riders and mountain bikers and 4Wdrivers. It’s a fantastic area to take kids as well as it has so many places for them to explore and climb and swim in. It was so refreshing seeing kids be kids out there. The region honestly does have something for everyone so do yourself a favour, next time your thinking of an adventure make like the Petshop Boys and…

(Go Weeeeeessssst) Life is peaceful there
(Go Weeeeeeessssst) There in the open air
(Go Weeeeeessssst) Where the skies are blue
(Go Weeeeeeeessssst) This is what we’re gonna do
Go Weeeeeeeeessssst!!!!!

Essential gear

  • It can get cold at night so warm clothes are a must
  • Camera and swimmers are also essential
  • Online booking and e-permit if camping at Girraween national Park
  • You will need to register through QLD parks first
  • Correct cash for camping at Bald Rock campground. ($12 per adult p/n, $6 per child p/n, $8 vehicle entry)

Activities

  • Hiking
  • Climbing
  • Swimming
  • Photography
  • Botany

How to get there

Accessed via Stanthorpe in the North or Tenterfield in the South, Bald rock National Park and Girraween National park are both clearly signed from either town. Its an easy 3.5 hr drive south west from Brisbane.

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