Another easy drive was through the Werakata State Forest near Cessnock, which is a good dirt road & suitable for cycling

 One of the roads into this state forest is from Wine Country Drive,  take Lomas Lane past the Hunter Valley Zoo into the tranquil easy drive through beautiful forest that is a haven for bird watchers with sightings of threatened Swift Parrots, Regent Honeyeaters & several species of Robin, amongst others. Some rare plants  are found in a special section of endangered habitat & it is the home to many native animals, so take your camera & binoculars.

  There is great picnic area, Astills, the easy  Deadman’s  mountain bike loop or Astills Trail both of which are flat & suitable for all fitness levels.

  Whilst in this area you must go to Loviz Art Gallery on Ironbark Lane,  to see some incredible paintings by the very talented Tanya Loviz.

  The True Café  (see our story in this edition) is just a few kilometres from here making it a great place for coffee  & a meal

  Visit this link to find out more about this incredible forest.

   Many parts of the Yengo National park near Wollembi were closed when we were in the area, so didn’t venture there,  but is well worth considering just to visit this little village of Wollembi with it’s famous hotel, & café along with the great country markets that are there every long weekend.


  Our final adventure was to the incredible Ladies Well & Mt Allyn lookout within the Chichester State Forest on route to the Barrington Tops which was an easy drive from Cessnock to East Gresford where I met my son who came from Newcastle, for Father’s Day.

  Steven had been wanting to see this swimming area for a long time but wasn’t sure if he needed a 4x4 to get there so I jumped at the chance to go.

 We left his car behind the coffee van opposite the bowling club & headed off in my Landcruiser up the Allyn River Road to Ladies Well, passed the most incredible scenery of farming land & rolling hills to the foothills of the Barrington Tops. 

  I had entered the Lat/long coordinates of our destination into my very old,  but with an updated map Garmin sat-nav that my son had given me a week earlier as he no longer needed it, & the unit was just doing it’s thing, navigating us with ease.  The sealed road was narrow, winding & quite rough in sections from flood damage.  In fact the dirt road once inside the State Park was in better condition.

  What an incredible place, with little water falls, Granite boulders & lush forest around this popular crystal clear swimming hole. A place to enjoy but be sure to take your rubbish with you & keep noise to a minimum so as not to disturb the many native animals.

  After a small snack & drink we headed to the next stop, Mt Allyn Lookout  via a steep dirt road, which could prove to be very slippery after rain so not suitable for 2WDs.

  We finally emerged into a clearing on “Top of the World “ with an incredible view of the Barrington Tops & valley below. The altimeter in my old Sahara showed that our height above sea level was approx 1120m, the internet  shows it at 1125m, so not bad & great accuracy from the old truck.

  What great Father’s Day present, Steven opened the car fridge from which he took out a bag & proceed to assemble our chicken & salad wraps on the tailgate, moved things aside & then sat to eat a meal fit for a King in the finest restaurant with a $1m view. My senses were fully alive from the fresh air & beauty around me but a bit sad  that my wife, daughters, their partners & grandchildren  weren’t with us, I know that my recently deceased son in law, Huw, would have loved being there.

  All too soon we had to leave heaven & head  down the mountain. We decided that because Steven had to be back in Newcastle to be with his family & we were heading to “Noah’s On the Beach” for a few nights stay, we would leave the rest of the journey that for another time. With this in mind we headed back to East Gresford the way we came & parted company.

  For more information on camping etc in the Chichester State Forest visit