A se­cret par­adise on the NSW mid­north coast.

Reach­ing a se­cret beach on NSW’S mid-north coast is not without its off-road chal­lenges, but the re­wards are ob­vi­ous.

4 x 4 Australia - - Front Page - WORDS AND PHO­TOS RUSS RYAN

THE MID-NORTH coast of NSW is for­tu­nate to have so many cap­ti­vat­ing coastal na­tional parks and camp­sites, and one of these ar­eas is the Yuraygir Na­tional Park. This park is a coastal trea­sure boast­ing stun­ning beaches, clear creeks and rugged head­lands, and is part of the largest stretch (65km in to­tal) of pro­tected coast­line in New South Wales.

From Syd­ney, take the Pa­cific High­way for 540km and you’ll even­tu­ally ar­rive at Coffs Har­bour. Here you can stock up on last-minute sup­plies be­fore leav­ing for Yuraygir. Coffs was once home to a boom­ing banana in­dus­try, as ev­i­denced by its fa­mous land­mark and tourist at­trac­tion, the Big Banana, which is vis­i­ble from the Pa­cific High­way.

As you head north out of Coffs Har­bour en route to the Yuraygir Na­tional Park, the black­top will dis­ap­pear af­ter an hour.

The real rea­son for vis­it­ing the Yuraygir Na­tional Park is to ex­plore and ex­pe­ri­ence the hid­den camp­ing trea­sure at Peb­bly Beach. Un­like many pop­u­lar camp­sites along the east­ern coast­line of NSW, the re­mote Peb­bly Beach isn’t re­ally ad­ver­tised in any of the main­stream tourism pub­li­ca­tions. I’m not sure why this is the case, given it is prob­a­bly one of the most beau­ti­ful camp­sites along the east­ern seaboard – I can only guess that maybe it’s be­cause you need a four-wheel drive to get there.

Low range is re­quired to reach this idyl­lic stretch of coast­line, as you will have to tra­verse off-road tracks, tackle a stretch of soft sandy beach, and then take on a creek cross­ing be­fore ar­riv­ing at this amaz­ing camp­ing lo­ca­tion. I’m sure any­one who has been lucky enough to visit this piece of coastal par­adise was pleased its lo­ca­tion has been kept out of most tourist brochures, if only to keep the masses away.

To ac­cess Peb­bly Beach you’ll need to

take the Bar­coon­gere For­est Way turnoff, about 43km north of Coffs Har­bour on the Pa­cific High­way. The Bar­coon­gere track can be rough in spots, but you’ll soon ar­rive at Sta­tion Creek, where you’ll see the 4Wd-only sign point­ing in the di­rec­tion of the Peb­bly Beach camp­ing area. If you de­cide not to con­tinue to Peb­bly Beach, you can still en­joy the area by camp­ing at the se­cluded Sta­tion Creek camp­site. You can even launch a boat at the south­ern end of the camp­ground if you’re in­ter­ested in do­ing a bit of se­ri­ous fish­ing.

To con­tinue to Peb­bly Beach, fol­low the sign­posted 4WD track and you’ll soon hit the beach af­ter ne­go­ti­at­ing a tight and bumpy sand track. It’s a good idea to check your tyre pres­sures here as you may need to drop them de­pend­ing on how

soft the sand is. You will soon hear and see the Pa­cific Ocean and the en­trance to the beach – a beach backed by old Pleis­tocene dunes and in­ter­est­ing black swamps that at­tract plenty of birdlife.

Peb­bly Beach camp­site is lo­cated at the end of a 2.5km beach drive, and be­fore pro­gress­ing up the beach it’s ad­vis­able to check tidal times. The last hur­dle be­fore reach­ing your camp­ing des­ti­na­tion will be cross­ing a tidal creek, which should only be at­tempted at low tide.

Af­ter suc­cess­fully ne­go­ti­at­ing the soft sand along the beach, there was just me, my Land Rover and a creek that sep­a­rated me from get­ting to this camp­site. It was late in the evening and the tide was in, so I had two choices: wait un­til the tide went out in the morn­ing, or just go ahead and chance the cross­ing.

First things first, I waded the creek to see how deep the cross­ing was. As I ap­proached the mid­dle of the creek it was up to my waist, but I knew it was man­age­able. So with that, it was out with the ra­di­a­tor bra and back in the Landy. I knew if I stalled in the creek I was in a bit of bother as I had no re­cov­ery ve­hi­cle to help me out should some­thing go wrong, so as I dipped the Landy into the wa­ter I grad­u­ally built a de­cent-sized bow wave and slowly made my way across. This cross­ing poses no is­sue when the tide is out, so it’s ad­vis­able to time your ar­rival at the creek to co­in­cide with the tides.

On the far side of the creek the Land Rover climbed up the steep sand bank; as it lev­elled off I be­gan to see what all the fuss was about, as the sheer beauty of this camp­ing lo­ca­tion un­folded. De­spite the fact it was rain­ing a lit­tle and it was a bit grey, ar­riv­ing here was like find­ing my­self in the midst of a Pho­to­shopped post­card.

Af­ter hav­ing a good look around and as­sess­ing the beach fish­ing op­tions, it was time to pick a camp­ing lo­ca­tion, as the light was fad­ing. There’s plenty of room to pitch a tent at Peb­bly Beach, and there are a num­ber of fire pits avail­able. With the Pa­cific Ocean di­rectly in front of you and two spec­tac­u­lar head­lands to your left and right, you’ll be well-pro­tected by the nat­u­ral and pic­turesque cove that cre­ates a truly stun­ning view.

Camp­ing fees are col­lected by park rangers who visit the camp­site, and you can stay in the area for a max­i­mum of 21 days should you have the time. It’s also worth not­ing that book­ings can­not be made in ad­vance and that ve­hi­cles are not per­mit­ted south of Sta­tion Beach.

If you plan to do a bit of fish­ing you won’t be dis­ap­pointed, with snap­per, tai­lor, bream, mulloway, whit­ing and flat­head eas­ily caught

I was very sur­prised to find my­self set­ting up camp with just one other 4WD camped fur­ther up the coast­line. For such an idyl­lic camp­site it was very quiet, though I’m sure in the peak of sum­mer it would be a dif­fer­ent story.

The flat camp­ing area is perched above the ad­join­ing beach and the Pa­cific Ocean, and it has plenty of fire pits scat­tered through­out the cleared area. Most peo­ple who visit can en­joy an open fire to cook an epic bush feast, while en­joy­ing a few cold beers as waves crash di­rectly in front of you.

Af­ter set­ting up camp and get­ting the fire sorted, it was out with a cold beer and then a short trek up the veg­e­tated sand dune that shel­ters the camp­site from the west. The views from the top of the dune will give you an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the scale of this amaz­ing camp­site.

If you plan to do a bit of fish­ing you won’t be dis­ap­pointed, with snap­per, tai­lor, bream, mulloway, whit­ing and flat­head eas­ily caught off the beach, and af­ter just 30 min­utes I pulled in a de­cent­sized

Its stun­ning views, serene en­vi­ron­ment and amaz­ing coastal camp­ing can be en­joyed all year ’round

snap­per for din­ner.

Yuraygir Na­tional Park has pleas­ant tem­per­a­tures all year ’round, with hot sum­mer days fil­tered by cool sea breezes from the Pa­cific Ocean. Other things to do in the park in­clude bush walk­ing, par­tic­u­larly in the north­ern sec­tion, with the An­gourie walk­ing track be­ing very pop­u­lar. Beach driv­ing is al­lowed on the main beach be­tween Red Cliff and Brooms Head and along San­don beach, while fish­ing is pop­u­lar through­out the park, par­tic­u­larly at Shel­ley Beach and Brooms Head – and based on the speed of my catch, Peb­bly Beach can’t be ig­nored. If you are there be­tween April and Oc­to­ber you might also be lucky enough to see a whale as they mi­grate along the east coast.

The park’s iso­lated beaches, rugged cliffs, rain­forests and wet­lands also pro­vide the per­fect habi­tat for a va­ri­ety of wildlife, in­clud­ing the en­dan­gered coastal emu, kangaroos, lizards, fly­ing foxes, din­goes, goan­nas, snakes, and plenty of birdlife. With such an abun­dance of wildlife, it’s rec­om­mended

not to feed the an­i­mals or leave food eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble.

This place is a par­adise! Its stun­ning views, serene en­vi­ron­ment and amaz­ing coastal camp­ing can be en­joyed all year ’round, and on ar­riv­ing here for the first time, you’ll feel that you have reached some­where very spe­cial. I’m not sure how many peo­ple who visit Peb­bly Beach for the first time re­turn, but based on what I have ex­pe­ri­enced, I can only imag­ine that fig­ure must be pretty high.

quick check for any leaks.

There’s no short­age of wildlife in the park.

A 2.5km beach trek is in or­der to reach Peb­bly Beach.

You won’t go hun­gry, as fish can be eas­ily caught off the beach.

Check­ing the creek cross­ing be­fore en­ter­ing Peb­bly Beach.

This fella will be cooked over the fire for tea! Noth­ing beats a cook­ing over a camp­fire un­der a sky full of stars.

Re­mem­ber to drop tyre pres­sures when on soft sand.

View of the Yuraygir Na­tional Park and its spec­tac­u­lar coast­line.

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