Wild Camping & Cascades

Wilderness camping in pouring rain, heavy fog and deep valleys within New England National Park, Northern NSW, allowed me to embed myself in some of the most beautiful rainforest I’ve experienced.

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 – few people.

My brother and I spent two days in New England National Park west of Coffs Harbour exploring Weeping Rock and the Cascades Track where we’d jump off trail and wild camp along the cascades.

Road to Point Lookout

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.

Walking track at Point Lookout, New England NP
Point Lookout in thick cloud and fog, New England NP

As you approach Weeping Rock you wind your way through ancient rainforest covered in mosses, ferns, fungi and fog, finally approaching a rock tunnel.

Fungi growing on tree in New England NP
Weeping Rock stone tunnel, New England NP

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.

Weeping Rock, New England NP

The rock faces run with freezing water and fall down on us seemingly in slow motion, the size and scale of the basalt rock faces are best described as some sort of illusion or trickery.

With a further 4km hike down to the cascades, we were pushing time 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 down to 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.

Five Day Creek cascades in New England NP

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, so our plans changed and we had to hike back up the steep, wet valley sides until we could find somewhere flat enough to set camp off trail.

We found a little clearing 45 minutes back up the steep valley sides just big enough about halfway up. It was soggy with two inches of mud, but it was mostly flat (I slid down all night).

Wild camping in a tent in New England NP

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.

Five Day Creek cascades trail

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 magical.

Five Day Creek cascades in New England NP

The cascades were absolutely awe inspiring, mesmerizing, and a just reward after our ridiculous night getting down.

Five Day Creek cascades in New England NP

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.

Five Day Creek cascades in New England NP

This was an experience and an adventure for sure. But the magic of these places can’t be described in words, or captured in pictures. These types of experiences are only truly understood in the moment, so be sure to pack your gear and plan your next one.

About the author

Jeremy Billett

Jeremy is a passionate landscape photographer based in Australia sharing his experiences on location and photographing remote and wilderness areas.

Add Comment