22 Jan 2024 - Matt Deans
To help families make the most of their summer school holidays and the upcoming long weekend, Forestry Corporation staff have nominated some of the best visitor experiences in state forests along the East Coast.
From scenic trails and lookouts to free pet-friendly campsites, pristine waterholes and popular tourist attractions all bases have been covered in this list compiled by our tourism and partnership leaders in each region.
So, as you plan things to do before the end of the school holidays consider visiting these top spots in state forests.
- Visit the beautiful Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens – Mogo State Forest
- Pack a picnic basket – Bermagui Picnic Area – Bermagui State Forest
- Take a leisurely walk at one of the many South Coast walking trails.
- Explore hundreds of kilometers of sweet Single Track at one of the many State Forest based mountain bike destinations.
- Try and spot a platypus at Imlay Creek Rest Area – Timbillica State Forest.
- Wake up to bird song – Paddys River Dam – Bago State Forest
“We encourage people to put State forests on their day trip plans, as well as supporting local businesses along the way,” Visitor Experience Manager Brendan Grimson, said.
“Yadboro Flat Camp Ground, Bermagui Picnic Area and Scrubby Creek Rest Area are just the tip of the iceberg of family friendly locations on the South Coast," Brendan said.
Hunter Valley and Central Coast
- Tree Top Adventure Park in Ourimbah State Forest
- Strickland State Forest waterfall, arboretum and walking tracks
- Camping at Frying Pan Creek (Telegherry River) in Chichester State Forest
- Picnic at The Pines in Olney State Forest
- Mountain Biking in Ourimbah and Olney State Forests
- Paintball in Awaba State Forest
- Fishing and canoeing in Barrington Tops State Forest on the Manning River
- Visit Heaton, McLeans and Hunter lookouts in Heaton State Forest
- Visit Abbotts Falls in Olney State Forest
“If you are after excitement, visit Tree Tops Adventure Park in Ourimbah State Forest," Partnerships Leader Alex Capararo said.
"There is something for everyone of all ages and fitness levels in State forests," Alex said.
“The Pines Camping Area in Olney State Forest in the Watagan mountains has a great little creek a few minutes into the bush along one of the walks and a small waterfall.
"The area is beautiful and I would recommend the Watagans for a weekend getaway, especially Sydneysiders seeking a forest break not too far from home," he said.
Mid North Coast
- Visit Guulabaa – Place of Koala in Cowarra State Forest – home of the ‘Big Koala’ and Wildnets
- Go camping at Swans Crossing in Kerewong State Forest
- Picnic at Coopernook HQ and visit the restored Foresters Cottage
- Take a walk along Longworths Historic Tramway Walk in Kerewong State Forest
- Go Mountain Bike Riding at Jolly Nose in Queens Lake State Forest
- Cool off at Cobrabald (Wild Bull and The Bluff Camping areas)
- Visit the award-winning ‘Old Bottlebutt’ in Burrawan State Forest
- Go birdwatching at No. 1 Tower in Mt Boss State Forest
- Visit Mid North Coast Paintball in Cairncross State Forest
“Cobrabald is situated on the Wilson River and is a great place to go, either for a day trip or camping overnight, with easy access to swimming and exploring the surrounding native forest," Partnerships Leader, Leah Moncrieff said.
"Just remember there are limited camping spots at Wild bull and The Bluff Camping grounds so get in early!” Leah said.
“Old Bottlebutt is a lovely day visit area with a short walk to the tree from the visitor area carpark, with the provision of a shelter and tables for a picnic lunch surrounded by the sounds of the bush.”
- Orara East State Forest – Coffs Harbour - Picnic at Niigi Niigi/Sealy Lookout. Take in the views of Coffs Harbour from the Forest Sky Pier and Korora Lookout, walk the Gumgali, Garraan.gurr, Rainforest, Bangalow and Midway tracks, enjoy a coffee at the Nyanggan Gapi Café and take to the high ropes course at TreeTops Adventures Coffs Harbour.
- Styx River State Forest – Located between Armidale and Ebor – Tour along Styx Forest Way to Wattle Flat and camp on the open grassy areas next to Styx River, wet a line, land a trout.
Free camping, basic facilities and dogs are always welcome.
- Wild Cattle Creek State Forest – near Dorrigo and Cascade – Recently upgraded day use area on the stunning Mobong Creek, some limited camping spots (first in best dressed) with picnic facilities linking to the amazing Mobong walking track back to village of Cascade.
- Wedding Bells State Forest – west of Woolgoolga - Take the kids mountain biking on the fresh single tracks managed by the Woolgoolga Mountain Bike Club.
- Bom Bom State Forest – South of Grafton - Family mountain biking on the undulating single trails managed by the Grafton Mountain Bike Club.
- Pine Creek State Forest – A mixture of family friendly and intermediate mountain bike trails managed by the Coffs Harbour Mountain Bike Club, including the famous Cows with Guns and Sawmill trails. For a scenic drive: follow Crossmaglen Rd out to Tuckers Nob State Forest, visit Never Never Creek at Gleniffer Hall, head along the new Gleniffer Road back into Bellingen for coffee, shopping and cake.
- Nambucca State Forest – Hyland Park – Access deep creek from the northern edge of the forest with a number of secluded spots to cool off or go fishing. Take in a sunset over the water looking west towards Viewmont and Bollanulla Nature Reserves.
- Newry State Forest - Urunga - Paddleboard or kayak along Picket Hill Creek into the Kalang River. Gain access to the water off Martell’s Road, paddle down to Urunga with the outgoing tide.
- Double Duke State Forest – near New Italy Rest Area, south of Ballina – Explore the coastal forests and ranges, take the kids for a ride around the New Italy Mountain Bike Forest. Enjoy a coffee at Tastes of New Italy Café to break up the drive if you’re heading up or down the coast.
“Sealy Lookout is an award-winning tourism attraction and always a hit, the best place to start any holiday by getting your bearings and setting off in any direction. You can see up and down the coast and along the Great Dividing Range, as well as into the surrounding hinterland. It’s perfect for a short visit or easily fill in a day with the nature walks,” Partnerships Leader Ryan Ellis said.
“We encourage people to visit State forests during their travels, you can take the family dog, pack a picnic lunch and find your own special place off busy well-travelled routes,” Ryan said.
With more than 2-million hectares of State forests across NSW, there are endless places to discover and experiences to share.
Camping in dog-friendly state forest campgrounds is free and there is no online booking, it's just a case of first in best dressed.
“Visitors can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for up-to-date information on places to visit.”
Media contact: Matt Deans 0400 066 237