With fantastic bush camping, a place like ‘The Gorge’ has everything on offer.
It caters for people with highly modified trucks through to tourers towing caravans; everyone can have their own little piece of serenity here, and it really does need to be seen to be believed. You can follow the crowds or you can go your own way (we know which one we’d choose).
Located just over an hour north-west of Grafton via Copmanhurst, the road into the property is just the introduction to what you will see when you arrive. The view of the Clarence River in the distance as you follow the winding dirt road provides the perfect canvas for you to paint your own picture.
‘The Gorge’ has been in the Winters family for over 100 years and is still a working cattle farm, but in more recent years it has become a tourist destination for those seeking a getaway. When you arrive at the house, Neil and Sue will come out to say g’day – and then you will be taken to your campsite by following Neil through the property.
The campsites are kept clean and well cleared. Most are grassy and level and all of them have spectacular views of the river with the mountains as the backdrop. You will be supplied with firewood and you can gather your own driftwood if needed. Neil will also come and collect your rubbish daily, from the bins supplied. It’s the little luxuries like this that can make camping with the whole family that tiny bit easier.
If you don’t want to camp there is also an alternative on offer. ‘The Shack’ offers solid brick and stone accommodation. It’s located up near the house and it can sleep up to 12 people.
This place is one of those campsites where, once you are set up, you can literally just sit down and chill out for the entire stay. There is no need to get in the vehicle to drive anywhere; you can put the electronics and social media away for the week and just really take it all in by folding out your camp chair, cracking a cold one, taking that first sip and gazing at the unbelievable scenery with the abundance of birdlife surrounding you. This truly is heaven.
Well, no-one can camp beside a river and not be a keen fisherman! Whether you have a boat, kayaks or just fishing gear, you can enjoy the river. You can also hire a canoe for $20 per day so you’re able to make it up to the gorge for the fishing. There are possibilities for everyone to catch some good sized Bass… however any fish that are caught must be released.
Paddling up the gorge is so peaceful. With the bonus of sitting low in the water you can get into the smaller areas closer to the banks that the boats can’t get to; but the best part is taking in your surroundings. The sheer rock faces go through their colours as the sun moves over, and you will go past smaller waterfalls before arriving at the rapids. If you’re an experienced paddler, you can attempt the rapids – however it is advised not to do this as someone was witnessed flipping their kayak in an attempt to get through. It is better to tie up the kayak on the right-hand side where there’s a small patch of sand, and you can walk up the gorge towards the waterfall where the well known fishing spots lie. If you have a boat with a motor it is possible to get through the rapids to one of the better fishing spots wherer you can tie up in amongst the rocks where the water is calmer… and then you are able to get out onto the rocks and wet a line there.
If you choose to walk to the waterfall, there is no track to follow. It is very rocky with a lot of big steps so be mindful of your footing. Just follow along the river and it will open up to a spot where you may notice other people fishing.
Standing at the top of the gorge is breathtaking, and having a bird’s eye view of the river just gives it another special perspective. Clambering down the rocks towards the water’s edge can be quite daunting if you don’t like heights – but you might only be here once, so get the courage to get down to the bottom as this will offer the best opportunity for you to catch some fish.
The Bass will sit around the bottom of the rocks where the water swirls in and pools in one area. Here it is calmer, and easier for the fish to see their food. Please note that no bait is allowed to be used, so lure fishing is best at early morning or late afternoon. Many would agree that there is nothing better then fishing up a gorge at sunset.
Once your day of fishing is done, there is one other thing you can do if you’re keen to climb up the near-vertical rocks of one of the waterfalls. Just across the river from where the kayaks were tied up is a smaller waterfall where there are a few flatter rocks to stand on. Tie up at the base of that waterfall and find your way to the top. You will notice a bushwalking trail once you get up there (a part of one of the tours on offer). It really is something else to know that you climbed the rocks to witness yet another brilliant view of the gorge. This is best right on sunset as the rocks and the mountains in the distance just burst with colours. It’s worth it to take a camera along and snap some awesome landscapes!
You know what tops this place off? The fact that you can take your four-legged best friends as well! YES dogs are allowed here. These days such campsites are few and far between.
You don’t have to fish every day. There will be days where you just want to do absolutely nothing… so take some floaty toys, blow them up and just relax in the water all afternoon; or you can float with the current from upriver. If you have a mate with a boat, get them to drop you off further up and just float downstream with the current – it gives you yet another view of the property.
This place is one of those spots where it’s possible to do nothing all day. But really, if serenity is what you’re after (and a place that is affordable and caters for every family with so many options) then ‘The Gorge’ is for you. Make sure you get down to this piece of paradise, at least once. You will fall in love with it.
Where: ‘The Gorge’ on the Clarence River. Approximately 1.5 hours north-west of Grafton, via Copmanhurst, in northern NSW.
Camping: $20 per carload, per night. There are a lot of different campsites – some accessible by most vehicles and some by 4WD access only. Neil, the owner of the property, takes you to your campsite on arrival.
Facilities: There are toilets and showers at the main house; however it’s just as easy to take your own.
Trip standard: The drive into the property is on a graded road once off the blacktop, so it is easy for any vehicle to get in. There are no 4WD tracks open to the public on the property.
What’s on offer at ‘The Gorge’:
Catch and release fishing
Daily rubbish removal
more Info: theclarencegorge.com