West of Kempsey is the mountain wilderness areas which are part of the Great Dividing Range and Eastern Escarpment. Numerous National Parks protect the variety of vegetation and fauna from development. These National Parks are Carrai, Kumbatine, Oxley Wild River, Werrikimbe and Willi Willi, with some of the best sub –tropical, warm temperate and cool temperate rainforest in Australia. Most of the Werrikimbe National Park and Banda Banda section of Willi Willi National Park are part of the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves of Australia and has World Heritage Rainforests. The rainforests are direct relations of the ancient forests of Gondawa, making this a high conservation area with landscapes of value with an outstanding array of biodiversity and magnificent scenery. Other vegetation types found on the Great Escarpment are sub-alpine woodland, upland heaths and old growth eucalypt forests. Spend time looking for the native animals which live in the mountain country with prized sightings of the endangered Hastings River Mouse, Yellow – Bellied Glider and Spotted – Tailed Quoll.
Carrai National Park and Carrai State Conservation Area is 14 860 hectares and was declared a National Park in 1999. High in the mountain tops the Carrai Plateau is access via the Upper Macleay (4WD required); follow the Kookaburra Scenic Drive to Kookaburra where a hut can be hired from the scouts for camping or free camping at the Daisy Plains Forestry Hut.
The Werrikimbe National Park is 33 292 hectares and was declared a National Park in 1975. Access is from Kookaburra, then south on Coachwood Road and Spokes Trail to Brushy Mountain Camp Area. Take Cockerawombeeba Road to Plateau Beach Camping Area and further south along Forbes River Road to Yarras on the Oxley Highway. Mooraback Camping Area is further west and accessed by turning off Coachwood Road onto Racecourse Trail and Cedar Creek Road. There is five bush walks within Werrikimbe National Park ranging from 1.5km to 9km in length varying from easy to moderate skill levels.
Willi Willi National Park is 29 870 hectares and was declared a National Park in 1996. This section of wilderness area of the Great Eastern Escarpment includes Mount Banda Banda (1258 metres) where one can walk the Banda Banda Forest Loop which is 3.7km moderate hike, around the management trail at the World Heritage site to see Antarctic Beech forest and walk to the top for a stunning view. There are three walking trails from the Wilson River Picnic Area ranging 300m to 3.6km and skill level varying from easy to moderate. Access to the Willi Willi National Park (4WD required) is from Wauchope via Beechwood stop for horse riding at Bellrowan Horse Riding. Continue along Bellangry Road onto Hasting Forest Way turning into Wilson River Road to the Wilson River Picnic Area.
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