Thursday, 30 October 2014

Kings Plain National Park - a revelation

We drove out to Kings Plain National Park on a Friday night and arrived in the dark, pitching camp on a grassy site by Kings Plain Creek. It seemed a good omen that in the branches of a nearby tree a squirrel glider was happily going about its business. But apart from that, the car headlights gave little hint of the surrounding landscape. By arriving late we were arriving unseen and unseeing. But the beauty of this, was the revelation of a new landscape when we opened our eyes first thing the next morning. 

At dawn we heard the landscape before we saw it. The morning bird chorus was raucous. Sun streamed through the stringybarks and lit up a soft mist rising off the long pool in the creek, as an assortment of Little Lorikeets and Musk Lorikeets flew squwaking through the treetops. Dusky swallows swooped through the air chasing invisible insects. Gangs of honeyeaters squabbled and bickered as they chased each other through the low wattle trees (to get a feel for the place listen to this wonderful recording of bird song made at Kings Plain by Wild Ambience).

At breakfast on our first morning, amongst the general chatter in the treetops, a small but remarkable bird landed on the grass a few metres from our tent. Its bright red feathers were visible beneath its wings, and brilliant white spots were speckled along its black shoulders. Flitting amongst the grass, it jumped up to grab at seed heads with a tiny finch beak. It took a moment for it to sink in, but this was a rare Diamond Firetail, described as one of the most stunningly coloured finches and listed as vulnerable in New South Wales. 

Kings Plain National Park is a destination for those seeking solitude and wildlife. It is 48km from the town of Inverell and 50km from Glen Innes. It is one of those parks few people have heard of, and even fewer visit. For the entire weekend we had the place to ourselves - a whole rambling woodland campground with fireplaces and picnic tables and just the secretive wallabies scooting through the bush and all those wonderful birds like babblers, little cuckoo, white-naped honeyeaters, and yellow-tufted honeyeaters.

The variety of birds in the area is apparently due to the park's location on the edge of the Northern Tablelands. Here birds from humid temperate regions mix with birds from arid and semi-arid Australia and 82 species have been recorded in the park. There are also the endangered glossy black cockatoos and turquoise parrots. Late on our first evening, as I wandered the forest along the creek, a peregrine falcon came rocketing past in a low, straight trajectory with so much speed I could hear the roar of wind through its feathers and in a split second it was there and gone.

Perhaps because the park has so few visitors the animals seemed to be less shy and reclusive. The trees were crawling with small, native, mousey marsupials, climbing around branches and scuttling in and out of fallen logs. We saw several near camp and then more as we wandered along the foot track beside the creek. We also encountered a huge Eastern Bearded Dragon (pictured below) and the squirrel glider in our neighbouring tree emerged on both nights, dropping leaves and gumnuts on our tent as it scrambled from branch to branch. 

Bushwalking along the creek, with its pools and rapids, is the main attraction at this park and Kings Plain Falls, about an hour downstream from the campground, has a wonderful swimming hole at its base. Hiking or mountain biking along the park’s 15km of management trails takes you through grassy and shrubby woodlands, and a rare forest of McKies stringy bark.  There are opportunities for remote camping and walking in this park, particularly downstream of the designated campsites, and along the rugged, gorge like section before and after the waterfall. While Kings Plain Creek is the main watercourse there are other smaller creeks and feeders that look interesting to explore. It is one of those parks we just touched the edge of and the sort of place I would put near the top of our "must return to" list. It has potential and beauty.

And it was a peaceful place. The birds did their bird thing, the gliders did their gliding thing and the old forest provided a beautiful habitat for them all. It was one of those open, friendly ecosystems - where you happily find a rocky crossing in the creek and spend an hour or two dawdling through the open forest on the other bank watching and observing and picking up thoughts among the wildflowers. There was an absence of human noise that felt refreshing and good for the soul - a bit like waking one morning and finding not only a new landscape outside the tent door but a new of way of seeing and being seen.


  1. You've made this park sound so inviting. Great post! Love the photo of the Bearded Dragon with the rusty colours on its back.

    1. Thanks Cameron! It really was a lovely park - a nice surprise, and an added bonus that we had the place to ourselves.