The Border Ranges National Park is exactly that: a national park that stretches across the volcanic rim of the Queensland – New South Wales border. It’s a picturesque area with lookouts, waterfalls and walks but being a rainforest in northern NSW, there’s also a lot of rainfall over the summer.
The Border Ranges are actually not that far from the New South Wales coast since they’re only some 100 km inland. But as there’s no direct road, you end up doing some sort of a loop, either south via the town of Kyogle or along the scenic Lion’s Road if approaching from Queensland.
Border Ranges: Camping Spots
Unlike in Queensland, there are tons of NSW National Parks where you don’t have to pre-book your campsite, and the Border Ranges is one of them. And like in many other national parks in New South Wales, camping here also works on a first come first serve basis.
There are two campgrounds in the Border Ranges: Sheepstation Creek and Forest Tops. The latter is a small, grassy clearing that’s right next to the Tweed Drive Scenic Road and probably only suitable for 1-2 families.
We ended up camping at Sheepstation Creek as I didn’t really fancy staying next to the road with no views.
We pitched our tent at the Border Ranges over Christmas and at no time was the campground completely full. I expect it might be a little different over Easter as the weather should be a bit drier (the driest month is actually September) and not quite as humid.
Being in a rainforest, it never got uncomfortably hot with the average temperature around 30°C in summer.
Being prone to massive rainfall over the summer, you should come expecting a fabulously green and lush but also wet and mozzie-enriched camping spot. The latter didn’t actually bother us much, it was the cicadas that drove me utterly insane during our three nights camping here. I’ve never heard cicadas as loud as I’ve heard in the Border Ranges – I had to put earplugs in, I couldn’t bear it!
There are some 40 unmarked sites at Sheepstation Creek but at least a third was blocked off due to recent weather damage. Most of the sites are fairly open but also somewhat shady. They vary from grassy spots to more compact dirt sites, which didn’t need much to turn them into mud puddles with a bit of rain. Some sites also had more of a gravel pitch.
With a fee of $6 a night (per person), it’s a pretty cheap spot to hang out for a few days unless the cicadas drive you crazy first.
It’s a nice enough spot for a couple of days but it’s not picturesque or interesting enough to tempt me back in a hurry. If we were passing by, we’d stay here again but I wouldn’t plan another trip to the Border Ranges.
PROS: Easily accessible (2WD) in a temperate rainforest setting; makes a good base for exploring the Border Ranges; clean, hybrid compost toilets; vehicle-based camping and a few sites suitable for camper trailers; most sites have shady areas; close to a couple of walks; BBQ shelter; some sites have picnic tables
CONS: Cicada noise: Insanely loud and going on almost all day (at least in summer); a few sites are quite slope-y while others turn into mud baths; relatively little privacy as sites are open around a loop track; not particularly picturesque, e.g. no views other than tall trees
Not sure what the tents and mozzies mean? Check out my tents and mozzies guide.
In addition to your camping fees, you’ll also need to pay a daily parks entry fee ($8) unless you’ve got a NSW Parks pass. You can pay the day-use fee directly in the park, there’s a pay station (I’m pretty sure it’s cash only) along the Tweed Ranges Scenic Road not far from Sheepstation Creek campground.
You can also order a NSW Parks Pass online if you want to get an annual visitor pass for various NSW national parks.
Find more information about camping at Sheepstation Creek or at Forest Tops on the Border Ranges National Park website.
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