Washpool National Park
World Heritage-listed Washpool National Park is a tranquil retreat, an area of remote wilderness and magniﬁcent, undisturbed, warm temperate rainforest. It lies high on the northern tablelands, an expansive plateau, at its highest almost 1200 metres above sea level. Its isolation and dense growth make it an important refuge for native wildlife.
From Glen Innes or Grafton via Gwydir Hwy then Coombadjha Rd
699 km north-east of Sydney (via Glen Innes); 75 km north-east of Glen Innes; 90 km north-west of Grafton
- NSWNPWS 1300 361 967
- NPWS Glen Innes (02) 6739 0700
68 554 ha
Glen Innes (02) 6730 2400
Grafton (02) 6642 4677
Featured Activities in the National Park
Head to the Washpool Lookout for stunning panoramic views
Savour the tranquillity of the park’s wilderness areas
Watch sparkling waterfalls tumble into clear mountain streams
- Washpool National Park, Eco-friendly activity
A look at the past
From the 1800s, selective logging of valuable red cedar saw timber-getters making their mark in this magniﬁcent forest. By the 1980s, people were realising the environmental value of retaining these ancient forests. Washpool National Park was created in 1983 and, in 1986, Washpool and the adjoinging earby Gibraltar Range National Park were listed on the World Heritage Register for their ancient remnants of rainforest and great variety of plant and animal species.
The park encompasses the traditional lands of several Aboriginal groups. It is known, for example, that the Bundjalung people used the area for thousands of years for ceremonies, carving trees to mark initiation grounds, burials and territory. Local Indigenous people maintain a strong link with the land.
The landscape of Washpool is dramatic, rugged and impressive. Steep-sided valleys and deep gorges dissect the park. Granite rock outcrops and precariously balanced tors break through the vegetation. There are broad ridges and densely cloaked escarpments, and delicate rainforest species grow beside clear-running streams, tumbling waterfalls and rippling cascades.
Washpool, with its rich volcanic soils, is a patchwork of eucalypt and rainforest species – most of it virgin bush – and the largest remaining coachwood forest in the world. As well, there are scattered pockets of lowland subtropical, cool subtropical and dry rainforest. The major areas of rainforest are in the eastern section of the park. In all, the park supports more than 1000 plant species.
Forests, particularly old-growth forests, provide an important habitat for native animals that nest and shelter in hollows and in dead trees. Washpool’s forests are a refuge for the koala and a number of threatened species such as the spotted-tailed quoll and long-nosed potoroo. At night, use a spotlight to see wide-eyed possums and gliders moving effortlessly from tree to tree, and listen to the incessant and varied call of frogs, a clue to the multitude of species that inhabit the park.
Around 140 bird species have been reported in the park – look especially in the dry forest areas for nectar-feeding wattlebirds and honeyeaters. Glossy black-cockatoos, parrots, rosellas and lorikeets are frequently sighted, and several species of owl (another hollow-dwelling bird) live here. The warbling of currawongs and laughing cackle of kookaburras often break the silence of the bush.
Visitors can camp on the park’s southern perimeter and enjoy shorter walks to lookouts and waterfalls, while those whose hiking skills are well honed can trek into the park’s interior.
There are several deﬁned tracks, though experienced walkers who delve into the park’s more isolated regions need to be especially well equipped, carry a topographic map, compass and emergency gear, and register near the park entrance. It is also a good idea to advise a responsible person both before and after the trip. Remember to carry wet weather gear as it can be wet and windy at any time of the year. Of the shorter trails, the Coombadjha Nature Stroll (1.4-km circuit, 30 minutes, medium difﬁculty) is an interesting, signposted walk that provides an introduction to the park’s forest types and also passes stands of coachwood by the creek. At the end of the walk you can take a cooling dip in the shallow Coachwood Pool. Washpool Walk (8.5 km return, 3.5 hours, medium difﬁculty) passes several varieties of forest and crosses Cedar Creek. Take a short detour to see Summit Falls surrounded by rainforest and stop at Washpool Lookout to appreciate the expansive view. If you're looking to challenge yourself, take on the Gibraltar-Washpool World Heritage Walk (45-km loop, 5 days, medium difficulty), which wends through spectacularly diverse landscapes in Washpool and Gibraltar Range national parks.
Visitors have the choice of several established picnic areas, with the Coachwood Picnic Area in a rainforest clearing a good base if you are planning on doing the Coombadjha Walk.
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