I’m on a research trip, immersing myself in the beauty of the Manning Valley, a few hours drive north of Sydney. This area offers a breath-taking combination of rivers, rainforests, mountains and beaches. Its lush landscapes and national parks will provide a stunning setting for my new book. Aussie author Di Morrissey was born in Wingham, and she still lives in the valley. It became the title and setting for one of her bestselling books.(The Valley Pan Macmillan 2007)
I’ve been staying with an old school friend, Kim Gollan, who lives at Bobin, about an hour’s drive east of Tapin Tops National Park. Kim and her husband Pete run the magnificent forty hectare Dingo Creek Rainforest Nursery. They mainly grow plants endemic to the mid north coast of NSW, in order to conserve these species and make them available to home gardeners, farmers and restoration schemes. For example, they have provided thousands of plants for the Lord Howe Island World Heritage project, and the Manning Valley lowland flood-plain rainforests regeneration plan. They are also caretakers of Wingham Brush and Coocumbac Island (see previous post)
Kim’s stock-list reads like a Who’s Who of iconic subtropical rainforest trees: black booyong, flame tree, sassafras, tamarind, rosewood, yellow carabeen, Moreton Bay fig, plum pine, corkwood – the list goes on and on. There are lines of potted Red Cedars, a species logged into commercial extinction in the 1800’s. Along the driveway, wild cedar saplings spring up around a parent tree that Kim planted twenty years ago. Tree-ferns, stag-ferns and fish-bone ferns germinate naturally in pots and under walk ways. The place is bursting with life.
It’s not just the nursery and gardens that are impressive. Kim and Pete built their own character-laden mud-brick & stone home. Exposed beams and the extensive use of natural bush timber gives the house a delightful earthy feel. It seems to have risen organically from the hillside.
There is so much to see here! Rugged Tapin Tops National Park, high on the Great Eastern Escarpment. Legendary Ellenborough Falls, a horsetail waterfall on the Great Bulga Plateau with one of the longest single drops in the southern hemisphere. Or browse the stock at Tinonee Orchid Nursery, including a wide range of native orchids growing wild in the Manning Valley.
Exploring this magnificent region with Kim as my guide has been an amazing experience. I hope I can translate some of this beauty into words.