This half-day drive takes you west to the beautiful Richmond Range along mostly bitumen roads with picnic areas, toilets, camping, and accommodation available. The drive can be accessed from the Gold Coast, Lismore, Byron Bay, Ballina, or Evans Head. However, some areas may not be suitable for caravans.
Duration: Half day from Kyogle
- Bicentennial Bridge
- Eden Creek State Forest
- Toonumbar Dam
- Fairymount Lookout
Start from Kyogle: Take the Summerland Way, and turn into Anzac Drive towards Geneva, go under the historic railway viaduct and over the Bicentennial Bridge. The road is now called Afterlee Road, travel on through rolling rural landscapes of undulating farmland and prime horse breeding country. Along the way, you will pass classic horse breeds such as Clydesdales and rare Russian bloodlines – the rich land supports a wide range of equine breeds and services, renowned throughout Australia.
Eden Creek State Forest, a pine plantation situated on your right, is an example of the historical significance of timber as a local industry. Plantation hard and softwoods replenish this vital resource and are grown throughout the local district. Several waterways converge in this area to make the headwaters of the Richmond River. Quaint names such as Cob O’ Corn Creek, Eden Creek, Iron Pot Creek, and Black Horse Creek are as meaningful now as they were when given by the early settlers.
Coming to a major intersection, follow the sign to Toonumbar Dam. There is a sign to Toonumbar National Park to your right. While there are many interesting walking tracks and wildlife to be seen in this park, today’s journey takes you to Toonumbar Dam, which is indicated clearly on the signpost. Once in the dam vicinity, the road divides. On your right is a sign to Bells Bay Camping Ground. Secluded in magnificent forest, this popular spot is for people who enjoy outdoor camping life with basic amenities, but it has access to all the features of Toonumbar Dam itself, which offers superb picnic facilities, bushwalking, boating, and fishing. Locals boast that the dam has the best bass fishing on the North Coast! The fish population is maintained by an annual release of bass fingerlings into the lake. Fishing licences and bag limits apply.
The construction of Toonumbar Dam followed local representations from people wanting to conserve water; control flows in Iron Pot Creek, reduce flood risk, and provide a reliable water supply. The dam’s storage capacity is 11,000 megalitres with a catchment area of 9,800 hectares. The maximum water depth is 34 metres, the wall is 44 metres high, and at the crest, it is 229 metres in length.
The road you need to follow heads down below the dam wall, continuing to Iron Pot Creek Road. Turn left toward Kyogle, watching out for the wildlife that frequents this area. The road crosses Iron Pot Creek over a beautiful old-fashioned bridge, continue on Iron Pot Creek Road to enter Ettrick. Once famous for a butter factory, which exported its product worldwide, this once vibrant village now enjoys a quieter existence.
Continue until you come to the Andrew Campbell Bridge, named after a prominent local born at Ettrick, who lived to 102 years of age. Turn left into Ettrick Road; this road now heads in a northerly direction through beautiful farmland with Eden Creek State Forest on your right. At the top of Ettrick Range, you will experience the breathtaking views of pastureland, which greeted excited early graziers. Turn right into Afterlee Road and rejoin Anzac Drive at Geneva.