In December 2016, Luke Nicolson, his brother Adam and myself went on a 3 day, 66km canoe trip down the Nymboida river. Luke and Adam had been several times previously and for some people it had been a challenging experience.
We drove two cars to the Mann River Caravan Park run by a great family team Curtis Parker and his wife. We stayed the night in one of the cabins at the caravan park and in the morning, we loaded our gear and canoes into Curtis’s specially setup Toyota Landcruiser Troop Carrier with canoe trailer. For a small fee, Curtis then drove us an hour, by road, up river and dropped us off where Old Glenn Innes Road crosses the Nyboida River, which is where our Nyboida River trip starts.
We loaded all of our gear into our canoes and then started down the river. At this point, there is no going back, the river moves downstream continuously and I had been told there was no option but to canoe all the way down. This was particularly worrying, since there is no mobile phone reception, we did not have a personal locater beacon or a two way radio. I suddenly felt silly not to have bought some form of communication.
The plan was for us to canoe down the Nymboida River until we arrived at Mann River Caravan Park 3 days later. The first day was easy, a fair few small rapids but nothing so dangerous that I wouldn’t take my children with me. I asked my friends why we didn’t bring the kids and they simply said “you wait”. That night, we stopped on the side of the river and camped in a very small rocky section no more than 5m from the rivers edge. Moving further away wasn’t possible because of the very steep mountains on either side.
On the second day, the rapids were much more dangerous, the river at some points drops 20 meters in the space of 50m, at some points it drops vertically. At these rapids, you need to get out of your canoe and drag it for 50 or more meters over massive boulders or walk down the rapids, holding onto your canoe. On the bottom of one rapid, there was a canoe wrapped around a tree, I changed my mind about it being safe to bring children.
Luke and Adam had told me that it would be remote and that we wouldn’t see many people but I am not sure it registered. During the entire 66km trek, we saw 3 people close to our entry point and then no one until we arrived at the Mann River Caravan Park
The sound of the cicada’s was like nothing I had heard before. They would sing together in their millions to the point that you could feel the sound of their chorus in your body, much like the bass at a very loud concert.
We didn’t catch many fish (which was unusual), though simply traveling such a beautiful river with two great friends was enough.
On the second night, there were less sleeping options than the first night. We stopped and camped on a huge granite outcrop on the side of the river, a photo of which is below.