Expedition to Cheery Tree Creek June 2005

Please Note:
Part of our access to Cherry Tree Creek runs alongside PRIVATE LAND.

The law states that you must stay below the high water mark or seek the owners permission.
In this case: Robert & Jenny Thompson.
Get their details by telephoning the Jackagery Caravan park. More here


Mann Bindery National Park
53,346 ha nominated in 1988.
Rugged wilderness known for its scenic river systems supporting large plant and animal populations.
Recommended Topographic maps:
Mount Wellington 9338-I-S
Gundahl 9438-IV-S
Jackadgery 9438-IV-N
Ballina to Grafton, 1.5 hrs M1 then take the ‘Gwydir Hwy’ to Jackadgery.

Gold Mining Equipment abandoned at Cherry Tree Gold Mine >

The New England Batholith uplifted and intruded into marine and terrestrial sediments at the end of the Permian age, ending a period of deposition. The Mann Bindery Wilderness lies on the north-eastern edge of the New England Tableland.

The Mann and Nymboida Rivers, that cut through the centre of the area, are wild and scenic rivers. The Mann has worn a valley through Ordovician sedimentary rocks, but as it approaches its junction with the Nymboida, it cuts through the granite of the Gibraltar Range. The two rivers combine and flow over the rocky cascade called New Zealand Falls, to eventually join the Clarence River after Jackadgery.



The diversity of soils, topography and climate combine to provide a range of habitats supporting an outstanding array of plant communities.

Five distinct vegetation groups occur in the area. These are:

The Granitic Plateau comprising sedge swamps, heath, mallee, shrubby woodland, open forest and occasional rainforest.

The Sedimentary Plateau including warm temperate rainforest, subtropical rainforest and tall open forest of New England Blackbutt.

The Moist Escarpment in the steep drop off from the plateau to the Mann River valley and Cooraldooral Creek, a tall open forest of Tallow wood, Blue Gum, and Brush Box.

The Dry Valley on the steep slopes of the southern side of the Mann River and Cooraldooral Creek, woodlands and open forests of Pink Bloodwood, Broad-leaved White Mahogany, Grey Gum, Grey Ironbark, Large fruited Blackbutt, Coastal Grey Box and Spotted Gum.

The Cunglebung Catchment is distinguished by a taller forest containing Spotted Gum, Grey Gum, White Mahogany, Grey Ironbark and Brush Box. The area has a high biodiversity and concentration of threatened animal species, and is recognized as the second most important area in Australia for high priority species.

Twenty-eight Threatened Fauna species of animals are recorded from the area.
These include the Hastings River Mouse, listed in imminent danger of extinction and one endangered fish, the Eastern Freshwater Cod.

The area is in lands traditionally occupied by the Banbai Aboriginal people. The Bindery (Mann) area contains archaeological evidence of Aboriginal occupation for 4,000 years. Open campsites are well preserved in the Mann River terraces and sources of stone blades and axes are found in river gravels. Other stone artifacts occur on the higher ridgelines, indicating the presence of camps used en route to the tablelands. 

Grazing – 1838 Archibald Boyd of Stonehenge station follows Nymboida River to a point near Cunglebung in search of a route for a dray road in order to get wool to port on the Clarence River.

Mining –1870’s Gold was mined in small scale operations in the lower reaches of the Nymboida River and in the surrounding hills, but returns were usually poor. Subsequently, tin prospecting was undertaken.

Forestry – 1920’s & 1930’s
First sawmills established on the Glen Innes to Grafton Road in 1920’s and by the late 1930’s three mills operate in the area. First electric saw mill established during 1930’s at Nymboida using electricity from the hydro-electric power station there and timber supplies from Dalmorton State Forest.

Pre 1990s – Until gazette of Nymboida National Park extension in 1990, some of the Nymboida River flats were used for grazing.

Awoke at 5AM and started final packing and preparations for closing our house. Everything went well and  miraculously we got away by 8am. Beaut morning, crisp and crystal clear. We arrived at Grafton after a pleasant drive south on the Pacific Highway where it follows the Richmond and Clarence Rivers, In Grafton, all the shops were gas heated and everyone was shivering. The grog shop lady summed it up. “It’s not a ‘real snap’, she said fast and sharp, ‘but it’s our first this winter and we’re feeling it,” said giving her shoulders a rub.

After Grafton, on the Gwyidir Hwy, when it starts to climb towards the escarpment sits Jackagery on the Mann River. There’s a huge bridge there, quite high above the river, and just after lies a caravan park. Our road trip finished well with our meeting Owen, the new owner of the Jackadgery Caravan Park, which is where we normally leave our car. After explaining our mission, he was keen to assist, so in no time at all, we were packing a mountain of gear into our packs that soon were dramatically over full. Jude rummaged thru hers, discarding clothes and the scant few luxuries. I re-packed mine, filling a few hollows, squashing, compressing it down till I could just get the lid straps closed. My sweater and camp loafers were tied to the outside.

 I normally help Jude up with her sack, which I did, but for the first time I needed help to get mine on my back. Must have weighed 30 kilos. Ache in my left hip straight away. Bit of an alarm, hurt in abdominal hernia area too.

Departed from caravan park at a snail’s pace, balancing our load on a mostly easy going track. Ten minutes in, not halfway to the river, I decided to raise my lumber support belt, which is done by adjusting the harness back length. I shortened mine to 31cm. Felt so much better straight away.

The first 8 kms follow the Mann River along privately owned river flats used for grazing. Over the years, we have travelled this route many times and know the owners who have a great concern for their livestock. In the past, some walkers have caused them trouble by frightening their stock, leaving gates open, and the kind of trouble that requires rescue. Common Law in NSW allows citizens to follow the course of rivers, which is what we do when on their land and respect their property.

Munningyundo Point the rocky peak on right

After these flats, the Gibralter Range rises from the river, making travel more difficult, more dangerous and slower.

Therefore we camped overnight on the grassy flats at New Zealand Falls.

From my notes for Day Two:

Tough day yesterday, heavy packs and a couple of poor choices made it hard going. Jude fell over twice, once hitting her head, or to be precise, her forehead stopped her fall. She broke skin. Worrisome. A lot of this section travels high on an ancient track supported by long rock walls. Built by who? And when?

I got fed up with navigating over fallen trees, and my thirst had an effect, so I took us down thru miles of low bush, over rocks, searching for the water and an open path. We found the river, but by that time a new obstacle presented itself, the rapids and falls that lay a kilometre from the confluence.

If we had stayed high, on the old track, we would have continued up and down gullies to a series of grassy slopes leading down to the confluence. On our way out, we found this route blocked in many places by falling trees. But, at river level with heavy packs, it was another matter. We boulder hopped for the last kilometer. Beautiful, albeit dangerous with these loads. 

Confluence of Nymboida and Mann Rivers
1500 hrs – Arrived camp alongside the confluence of Nymboida and Mann Rivers. Before us stretched a large quiet body fed by the gurgling Mann River escaping through a gap. End of Day TWO.

Boulder hopping up the Mann River

From Campsite to Cherry Tree Creek

A third, hard day – again starting badly by my poor choice of routes. With the river at low levels, I decided to follow it in lieu of climbing up and down the ancient path. That was a mistake. An hour of boulder hopping gave us jelly knees, so we rejoined the track as soon as we were released from a narrow rocky squeeze.

We then made fast passage from hard work along a narrow track carved into the hillside probably a century ago. Now, overgrown and blocked with fallen trees, it was often hard to follow, but there were times when we found long runs reinforced with rock walls.

By 1300 hours, we knew it would take all day to achieve the 5 kilometers to Cherry Tree Creek, so we had lunch on a pebble bank mid-river. Hot soup warmed our bodies while we discussed which side of the river looked the easier to trek. The southern side appeared a tad more open, so after packing up, we crossed to the south for a short, easy walk that abruptly ended in another crossing.

At 1637 hrs, with little more than thirty minutes of daylight remaining, we arrived at a grassy flat just a half kilometre short of Cherry Tree Creek, and when I dropped my sack, Jude yelped, ‘HOORAY!’

Quickly we made camp. The thin cloud that had drifted in around mid-day had become a sheet of gray froth that blocked the moon from view. We made a lovely fire in the thick grass, then lay back in comfort enjoying some much deserved wine while a fine meal of cheese pasta, spiced up with salami for me, bubbled on the fire.

Looking up stream Mann River adjacent to Cherry Tree Creek

> Gold Mining Equipment abandoned at Cherry Tree Gold Mine.