Explore your South Coast State forests

Looking for something to do over the school holidays?

Why not visit a State forest near you?

Anyone with a fondness for the great outdoors will find fantastic opportunities in the forests of the South Coast.

Hiking, birdwatching, bike riding, fishing and swimming are just a few of the most popular forest-based activities.

“If you enjoy birdwatching, searching for plants and animals, the smell of beautiful eucalypts, splendid forest scenery or just the quietness of the bush, come and take a walk through some of the most beautiful forests in NSW,” says South Coast regional manager for State Forests, Mr Steve Dodds.

“The State forests of the South Coast contain a number of interesting walking trails, with a number of longer mapped routes through national parks.”

Mr Dodds said shorter walks were available from many of the recreation areas within State forests, while many of the roads and tracks in the extensive State forest road network were infrequently used by vehicles, giving the walker the opportunity for a peaceful stroll.

Visitors seeking a fairly challenging mountain bike ride should head to the foothills of the escarpment in Dampier, Yadboro and Wandera State Forests.

“There are plenty of streams to cool off in or camp beside,” Mr Dodds said.

“If you prefer a more relaxing and flatter ride, stick closer to the coast where there are many lovely trails that can be followed by a refreshing ocean swim.

“When cycling in State forests, it's best to stick to designated forest roads and trails.”

Trail bikes are popular in State forests, where the extensive network of roads and tracks allows for seemingly endless enjoyable exploration.

Motorbikes must be registered, riders must be appropriately licensed and must remain on existing roads and tracks. Some tracks may be locked or closed to prevent track damage or unauthorised access to private property.

The Clyde, Deua and Tuross Rivers are popular canoeing waterways and there are countless creeks that can be explored throughout State forests.

Although quiet water paddling is well catered for on the South Coast, at times of rainfall whitewater kayaking can be experienced in the forested upper reaches of the major rivers.

Horseriding through the South Coast's spotted gum forests is a popular pastime for many, with a number of roads and tracks frequently used.

Commercial horseriding operations are available and details can be found at the local visitors information centre.

“When horseriding in State forests it's best to stick to designated forest roads and trails,” Mr Dodds said.

“Advice on where timber harvesting is taking place can be obtained from the State Forests office in Batemans Bay.”

The South Coast has some of the best picnic areas in the State.

Lowden Forest Park in Tallaganda State Forest

Well worth the drive from Braidwood or Canberra, historical relics more than 170 years old are scattered throughout this park, including a waterwheel originally used to generate electricity. The park was the location of a logging camp during the 1830s, the evidence of which can still be seen today. The surrounding native bush of Tallaganda State Forest includes majestic stands of brown barrel, making bushwalking, four-wheel-drive tours and mountain bike riding a favourite in the area. Bird watching is also popular, with the rare olive whistler a possible sighting. From Braidwood, follow Krawarree Road to Nithsdal, before taking Parlour Creek Road into the forest. Follow Coxes Creek Road through the pine plantations before turning into Lowden Road which will take you to the forest park.

Bodalla Forest Park in Bodalla State Forest

A great spot for a family picnic not far from the Princes Highway in Bodalla State Forest near Narooma. The shaded area is nestled under tall spotted gums, with a easy walking trail from which you may spot a variety or native animals and birds.

Wagonga picnic area in Bodalla State Forest

A scenic spot for a camping or picnicking on the banks of Wagonga Inlet, not far from Narooma.

“If bushwalking is your thing, there are a few favourites to be had on the South Coast,” Mr Dodds said.

Coman's Mine in Dampier State Forest

Suitable for all age groups and levels of fitness, generally gentle grades. Five kilometres from the township of Nerrigundah in Dampier State Forests, Coman’s Mine is part of the region's goldmining history.

The mine was opened in the 1880s by EJ Coman and his partner Bloomfield. It operated for a brief but unsuccessful period and by 1889 was left idle. The mine may have been worked periodically since but it wasn't reopened until 1938 by Radiant Mines.

It was last worked by Immarna Mines from 1947 to 1950, but there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that the hunt for gold may have continued through to the 1960s. Today, a walking trail passes by relics of the mine, including the stamper battery used to crush ore and the railway tracks used to move ore from the shafts.

If you are visiting the site, please keep to formed tracks and do not interfere with any artefacts.

If the region's history gives you 'gold fever', fossicking is permitted on State forests. Contact State Forests' Batemans Bay or Eden offices for permits.

Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens

Suitable for all age groups and levels of fitness, generally gentle grades.

A herbarium, display garden, picnic ground, barbecues, walking tracks and visitors centre can be found in these botanic gardens, located 5 km south of Batemans Bay on the Princes Highway. The gardens are managed by Eurobodalla Shire on 42 hectares of Mogo State Forest and demonstrate native plants from the Clyde, Deua and Tuross River catchments. The large herbarium contains 8000 specimens of flora and 500 samples of fungi.

Old Blotchy in South Brooman State Forest

Suitable for all age groups and levels of fitness, generally gentle grades.

Almost the largest spotted gum tree (Corymbia maculata) in New South Wales, Old Blotchy is 53 metres tall with a diameter of almost 3 metres. A walking track leads you from a small car park just off 18 Mile Peg Road through moist eucalypt forest until the huge shadow of Old Blotchy looms above. Just south of Termeil on the Princes Highway, take a left turn into 18 Mile Peg Road.

“If you want detailed information on the forests and parks of the region and the roads, tracks and facilities that they contain, they can be found in the South Coast Forest Map,” Mr Dodds said.

“This comprehensive map shows recreation areas, special features and roads, while the colourful reverse side provides information on forest management, history and recreation in the area.”

The map is available for purchase from the State Forests Information Centre on 02 9871 3377 open 7 days a week, or local your local State Forest office for a recommended retail price of $9.85 with $1 postage and handling.

"People are welcome to use their four wheel drives in State forests as long as they are registered and they stick to the road system," Mr Dodds said.

"Drivers should go with another vehicle, and be sensible about their vehicle and driving ability.

"A GPS receiver is helpful, and a mobile phone or CB radio can be useful in case of emergency.

"Trail bikes can be used in State forests but they, like all vehicles used in our forests, must be registered and riders must be licenced. All the RTA rules apply on State forest roads just as they do on any other public road."

Mr Dodds said that irresponsible vehicle users would be reported to police.

"All we ask is that people who use the forests act responsibly," Mr Dodds said.

"Visitors should respect other people using the forests, so do not ride a motor bike close to a camping ground or horse riders."

People are welcome to camp in State forests for limited periods.

"We do ask that campers take out their rubbish, and be very careful with campfires," Mr Dodds said.

"Make sure the fire area is properly cleared, and that no fires are lit on total fire ban days or on days where there is a hot dry local wind.”

The South Coast Region office is in Crown Street, Batemans Bay, phone 02 4472 6211.

Media contact: Steve Dodds on (02) 4472 6211.