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July 15, 2008 / Amy Bradney-George

Cathedral Rock National Park

The view from above - on top of Cathedral Rock

The view from above - on top of Cathedral Rock

A granite boulder formation at Cathedral Rock National Park

A granite boulder formation at Cathedral Rock National Park

The path for the Cathedral Rock walk

The path for the Cathedral Rock walk

There were about 17 of us – 15 teenagers, two adults and a 10 kilometre walk through Cathedral Rock’s sub-alpine woodlands in the middle of winter. The trip had been planned and agreed to months before, but we weren’t ready for that kind of cold and exertion after a morning packed with visits to a water recycling plant, Dorrigo National Park, and several stops to admire and take note of geologically interesting areas. And after that long hike through areas of native grassland, eucalypts and banksias scattered around granite formations, we set up camp and spent a night freezing in the sub-zero temperatures and high wind conditions.

In retrospect our senior high school teacher and her husband were brave to take us on that trip at such a time. While I appreciate the experience now, at the time I was more concerned with complaining about the throat infection which resulted from the camping. But years down the track I can’t seem to get enough of those national parks.

Every time I visit my family in the countryside of northern NSW I’m eager to visit the national parks that dot the surrounding areas. Over the years I’ve become fond of not only the closest and most familiar, Dorrigo National Park, but also those around the New England Tablelands. The first time I went to Cathedral Rock I got sick, but the last time I went I was determined to do the shorter, 5.8 kilometre walk despite being sick.

The combination of sub-alpine heath, dry sclerophyll forest and the visibility of the New England Batholith make Cathedral Rock National Park a truly amazing place to visit. The view from Cathedral Rock is amazing, stretching out towards the see on one side, and more of the tablelands on the other. The walks vary in intensity, but options are inclusive, whether you’re an active seeker of a challenge or just out for a leisurely stroll around the area.

The tradition for me has been to get up early and aim for a lunch-time finish of one of the walks, picnicking with my family in the Barokee rest area, where many of the walks start. It’s a great place to admire the vegetation and keep an eye out for birds like the white-cheeked honeyeater (Phylidonyris nigra) and the odd wallaby (the common ones are Petrogale penicillata and Macropus rufogriseus) or kangaroo (mostly Macropus giganteus).

The Barokee rest area is 1385 kilometres above sea-level, so if you decide to visit in winter be prepared for the cold. The first time I saw snow was there, so that’s some indication of what to expect. But all in all, I would want to visit Cathedral Rock at any time of the year, in health or in sickness, because it is an amazing natural asset to the land.

Questions? Comments? Please feel free to have some input.

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