This special place near Gloucester is full of treasures.

A group of us were lucky recently to experience the hidden treasures of tours offered within Copeland Tops State Conservation Area near Gloucester. These tours are conducted by volunteers with NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service and we enjoyed a taste of two tours.

The day was a bit wet and gloomy, but nothing that a fresh brewed hot coffee and a Hebby’s sausage roll didn’t fix. Driving in convoy our group departed from Gloucester Visitor Information Centre including our own personal photographer Craig Mason from East Coast Photography. We arrived 20 minutes later at the heritage gold mine precinct in Copeland Tops SCA, which is 11 km from Gloucester on sealed road, so no 4WD is required.

At the car park picnic area we were greeted by local Worimi mother and son tour guides: Boe and Gai Clarke. The tour started with a moving Acknowledge of Country spoken by Boe, I instantly felt a connection with this beautiful place. Boe is a local young man who’s very interested in learning about his culture and ancestors through connecting with the land. His memories of his late grandfather, local elder Jimmy Clarke, has set him on his journey of cultural awareness and learning.

Boe was entertaining, knowledgeable, raw and honest. He pointed out bush tucker, plants and resources used for making tools. The Cultural Tour took us along a well-maintained walking track with a rainforest canopy overhung by strangler figs, red cedar and grey myrtles. The sound of the water running in Copeland Creek and birdsong set a surreal experience. We then reached the beautiful boardwalk which winds around the creek. The boardwalk is well maintained with absolutely magical views through the forest, with bridges and occasionally short sets of steps, all with handrails.

The walk is graded as medium level and it was relatively easy for me. The walk filled the morning and we gathered for lunch (delicious fresh rolls with lovely cakes made again by Hebby’s Bakery in Gloucester) at the Education Centre hidden under the thick canopy.

In the Education Centre Boe showed us his craftsmanship talents with aboriginal tools he made himself. Each one was explained and we learnt how to use them. He also played his didgeridoo, explaining the necessary breathing motions that create the vibrations and sounds.

Boe is a real asset to the aboriginal community, NPWS and the Copeland heritage precinct. I thoroughly enjoyed the cultural experience.

As rain was threatening, we started out on the second tour to Mountain Maid Gold Mine, hidden in the rainforest. This fascinating tour took us back in time and told us the history of gold mining in Copeland Tops. We got up close to a whirly gig gold separator and an old stamper, it was great to see this machinery restored and now in working order. The tour guide Mikayla made it full of fun and gave us an informative tour. Even under the shelter of our umbrellas, the moss-covered landscape was impressive with everything glistening in the misty rain. It was such a tranquil and stunning sight, another fantastic experience in this perfect spot.

Some helpful tips:

  • wear a hat and your shoes must be enclosed and non-slip (no thongs, sandals or slides)
  • bring an umbrella for the rain and insect repellent
  • bring your own drinking water and snacks, and take all rubbish back with you.

Working at the Gloucester Visitor Information Centre it’s so easy to promote these tours now I’ve experienced them first hand. I love to share my feelings about this wonderful place.

Copeland Creek, Copeland State Conservation Area
Copeland Creek under the boardwalk
It was such a tranquil and stunning sight.
Barney Tonks
Copeland State Conservation Area, Mountain Maid Heritage Tour
Walk through the old machinery shed.

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