The top walks that locals love in the Manning Valley

Looking for some more walks in the beautiful Manning Valley? If you’ve done the popular walks already and want to walk ‘like a local’ here are a few more with plenty of natural beauty and a bit of history too.

1. Harrington Forest Walk

  • START: 200 metres north of Discovery Parks on Crowdy Head Road
  • DISTANCE: 700 metre or 10 kms
  • DURATION: 10 minutes or 2 hours
  • GRADE: Easy/Moderate

The Harrington Rainforest walk takes you through littoral (coastal) rainforest which has formed on old sand dunes. The rainforest is sub-tropical and has a great diversity of plant species. It is the best remaining remnant of the local rainforest which once stretched north from Harrington to Crowdy Head. Sand mining in the 1960s and early 1970s took its toll on the rainforest. The saving grace of the rainforest pocket was that it contained historical grave sites. The walk takes you to Harrington Lagoon where you can turn around and return via the same track or continue onwards into Crowdy Bay National Park. This longer walk is 10kms and ends at Crowdy Gap Campground so make sure you have a pick-up arranged.

2. Black Head Flora Reserve

  • START: Baywood Drive
  • DISTANCE: 400 metres
  • DURATION: 15 Minutes
  • GRADE: Easy

The 21 hectare Black Head Flora Reserve connects rainforest reserves at Red Head and Black Head. The native vegetation has high conservation value and supports a variety of plants and animals. Rehabilitation of this reserve began in 2004 and continues today. The track starts midway along Black Head beach or can be reached from an easement road at the eastern end Hope St at Red Head. The track is flat and winds through tall flooded gum and swamp mahogany favoured by koalas. There is an impressive stand of hard corkwood along the track which eventually reaches the wetland reserve at Baywood Drive. A self guide leaflet is available at the Library. Dogs are not permitted on this track.

3. Old Bar Park Environmental Walk

  • START: Old Bar Airstrip, Old Bar Road
  • DISTANCE: 5 kms
  • DURATION: 2 hours
  • GRADE: Easy/Moderate

Old Bar Environmental Walk was an initiative of the residents of Old Bar to enhance and formalise once degraded walking tacks through Old Bar Park to the entrance of Farquhar Inlet, one of the two mouths of the Manning River. The timber bridges are clearly defined walking tracks and assist in the preservation of the botanical significance of the park by minimising the impacts from visitors and elevating the walkway over semi-permanent drainage lines.

4. The Dawson River Wetlands Boardwalk

  • START: Bushland Drive, Taree (access behind hockey fields)
  • DISTANCE: 800 metre loop
  • DURATION: 20 Minutes
  • GRADE Easy

The Dawson River Wetlands supports two endangered ecological communities – Swamp Oak Floodplain Forest and Coastal Saltmarsh. These ecological communities are considered to be a high risk of extinction in NSW due to a number of pressures caused by urban development, weed invasion and rising sea levels as a result of climate change. A raised boardwalk has been constructed to formalise the walking track through the wetlands to protect the soil from foot traffic and prevent the trampling of native plants.

5. Brimbin Nature Reserve

Located on the banks of the Dawson River and Tommy Owens Creek, Brimbin Nature Reserve is 15 minutes from Taree CBD. The name Brimbin is an Aboriginal word derived from “borembit” or stringybark, a tree species common in the reserve. Brimbin is home to an endangered species of eucalypt, the narrow leaved redgum Eucalyptus seeana, which occurs at its southern limit in the Taree area. This species is an important food and habitat for koalas.

a) Ms Kelly’s Walking Track

  • DISTANCE: 1.5 km loop
  • DURATION: 45 mins to 1.5 hours
  • GRADE moderate

Ms Kellys walking track in Brimbin Nature Reserve is a short walking track near Taree, that follows a historic bullock route and takes in landmarks with names significant to the area’s historic heritage. Named after Isabella Mary Kelly, NSW’s only independent female colonial settler, a wealthy Irish woman who sailed into Sydney Harbour in 1834. She bought up Crown land just outside the boundaries of AACo’s Port Stephens Estate and ran her own station at Mount George on the Manning River upstream of Wingham. Never marrying, she was looked at with suspicion and envy, apparently disliked by her neighbours for ‘doing men’s work’. Her house burnt down in her absence by an enemy and she was, for a time, unjustly imprisoned after subletting to a conman. History has painted her character in various extremes, from a gun-slinging tyrant to a brave pioneering hero but either way, she is a fascinating historical character of the Barrington Coast.

b) Dawson River Walk

  • DISTANCE: 1.5 km loop
  • DURATION: 45 mins to 1.5 hours
  • GRADE moderate

Starting at the Brimbin picnic area the walking track follows the mangrove-lined waterway of Brimbin Nature Reserve and joins with the historic bullock route of Old Port Macquarie Road, an important part of NSW’s colonial history.

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