Revisiting and reconnecting – Minyon Falls, Nightcap National Park NSW

posted in: New South Wales, walks | 4

I have been fortunate this year to revisit a place that is special to me not once but twice. Earlier in the year I took Harry and Chris with me visit Minyon Falls in far Northern New South Wales, and then a few months ago I took along a good friend of mine. I have written about experiencing a place that holds special meaning to me at different stages in my life over on Bushwalking Blog last year. Well Minyon Falls is another one of those places to me.

I first visited Minyon Falls when I was 16 with my grandparents. The tall open forest, cliff escarpment and plunging 100 meter waterfall made an impression upon me then but I wasn’t to realise how much this place would come to mean to me until almost 6 years later. I finished school, deferred university and worked full-time for 2 years. I then took off into the big wide world and moved to the town of Lismore, 3 hours south of where I grew up. I would spend 3 years studying a degree in Environmental Resource Management there at Southern Cross University. I loved the degree and having such amazing national parks so close by was fantastic for someone who loved the outdoors as much as I do.

 

Minyon Falls

 

Minyon Falls is about a 45 minute drive from Lismore and I would go up there sometimes on the weekends to walk and picnic. In my final semester of university we had to undertake a double weighted unit known as the “integrated project”. The lecturers and professors at the university would use this opportunity to put out project ideas which they would like some research conducted on, and sometimes local stakeholders would also put forward suggestions. As soon as I saw that the local National Parks office wanted someone to look at the impacts of recreation on water quality and riparian habitat on Boggy Creek, the creek that flowed over as Minyon Falls, I was in.

Over the next 12 weeks I went up to Minyon Falls every Saturday and Sunday. I undertook water quality and riparian assessments at a few places along the creek, including the base of the falls which meant I had to walk to the base and back every weekend with all my sampling gear. I also conducted visitor questionnaires and passive observations. It was interesting to actually sit down and record how the people visiting the area were interacting with it.

In the end the place felt like a second home to me and I felt quite protective and territorial about it when I would see people behaving irresponsibly and showing disrespect to such a beautiful place. By the time I had written up my report and submitted it I had developed a deep affection for the area. My hard work paid off and I received a high distinction for the report, but I was mostly just happy that I felt I had hopefully somehow made a difference to how the place might be managed in the future.

 

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Fast forward 15 years and I have only made the trip back up to Minyon Falls a few times, with 2 of those times being this year. There are a couple of walking options at the falls and on the trip with Harry I thought it best to take the shortest and most direct approach. We started by viewing the falls from the Minyon Falls lookout at the top of the falls and had a bit of an explore along the creek, before driving back down the road to the Minyon Grass picnic area to begin the 4 km return walk to the base of the falls.

 

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The track down is well graded, taking you from tall open forest down into the palm filled rainforest of the valley.To reach the base of the falls is a bit trickier. You need to climb up over huge boulders for a few hundred meters. We made it a game of “pass the Harry” as one of us would climb up onto of a huge rock and the other would pass Harry up. It is worth the clamber to sit and look up at the cliffs high above you and listen to the fall of the water into the pool below. Its mesmerizing to watch the clouds move over and the water from the falls shift and change direction as the passing breeze circulates around the cliff face.

 

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Minyon Falls9

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Harry took delight in the walk down, stopping to look at the bark on trees and point out different fungi. He was hot and bothered at the base of the falls, but we let him dip his feet in the icy cold water and he was happy again for a while. The walk back up was fine until we began to ascend out of the coolness of the shaded forest below and back up into the hotter drier and steeper section of the track. With much complaint from him and much encouragement from us, we made it back to Minyon Grass, where we sat and took in the view of the falls from a different vantage point.

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I did the longer 8 km Minyon Falls circuit walk with my friend, lets call him Running man, about two months ago. Running man and I chose to start the walk from the top of Minyon Falls, crossing the creek and heading up around the escarpment through the blackbutt and scribly gum filled forest. The track zig zags its way down into the valley, leading into the palm and fern filled valley below. The track gets a bit tricky underfoot in places, and one needs to take care not to trip on rocks and roots.

After making it to the creek on the valley floor, we clamber up over the boulders to sit and look up at the falls, while having a bite to eat. There was less water in them on this trip, but it is still a very tranquil spot to stop and sit beneath the towering cliffs. We took the track back up to the Minyon Grass picnic area and then walked back along the road to the top of Minyon Falls to complete the loop. It was a refreshing change to do a walk child free. I could walk faster and stop when I wanted to stop, not when Harry wanted to stop which was quite the novelty for me! Running man and I finished our walk with a glass of red and some cheese and crackers back at the Minyon Grass picnic area, this blog is called Walk and Wine after all 🙂

If you have the time, then I would definitely recommend making the time to do the full loop track rather than just walking from Minyon Grass to the base of the falls.

As I put this post together and look at the photos I think about the person I was when I did my integrated project. Twenty-two years old, in my final year of university and I thought that anything was possible. I think about the walk I did every weekend for 3 months back then and think how much my life has changed and how much this place has stayed the same.  It was so nice to take Harry to the falls and see his delight at discovering a new place, a place with so much history for me. It was also lovely to share this place with my good friend Running man. Minyon Falls will always hold a special place in my heart and I won’t leave it so long between visits next time.

 

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At a Glance

mapMinyon Falls Loop track
7.5 Km (grade – hard) Allow 3 – 4 hours
http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/Walking-tracks/Minyon-loop-walking-track

mapWalking track to base of Minyon Falls – from Minyon Grass picnic area 4 km return http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/Picnic-areas/Minyon-Grass-picnic-area/Near-by

 

 

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4 Responses

  1. Hi Amanda,
    Re-visiting a place that holds so many memories is always an interesting experience. I know I viewed the world very differently in my early 20s. I had different expectations and hopes and dreams back then. It certainly causes a lot of reflection. I’m so glad you got to take Harry back there and that you will revisit it again. I’ve never been there but it’s not too far south really so I must check it out. You’ve certainly made it very appealing with your pictures and description!
    My younger brother did the same degree as you but At UQ in Gatton. He enjoyed it also. He loves national parks and the outdoors in general.
    Hope to see you in January to share a walk together! 🙂

    • Hi Jane,
      I really like re-visiting places that are special to me with different people at different points in my life, it really makes you look at where you have been where you are going. I think you would like Minyon Falls. There is a campground just up the road called Rummery Park (I will update my post with the details shortly) so you can stay the night and do the walk. I had Gatton down as my second preference for Uni. I wonder how different my life would have been if I hadn’t got my first preference of SCU! I hope we can do a walk in January too. Maybe we could have a crack at the Ships Stern track?

  2. Oh that is such a lovely memory Amanda! Thanks so much for sharing it with us. It’s amazing how the wilderness can change us, whilst it remains unchanged (hopefully). Oh and I couldn’t help but wonder if Harry was excited to visit looking for Minions! 🙂

    • Yes thankfully the place is mostly the same if not better than it was back then. Yes Harry thought there were going to be little yellow minions running around the falls. He was a bit disappointed when I told him the falls weren’t named after those Minions! He enjoyed himself all the same though. Thanks stopping by and commenting Caro 🙂

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