Tuesday, November 17, 2015

North Brother Mountain, NSW, Australia

2015 November: Detour to North Brother Mountain (NSW, Australia) while driving pass the town of Laurieton to take a walk in Diamond Head later on


5 km, 7 minutes drive on a tourist road called Captain Cook Bicentennial Drive will take you from the town of Laurieton to a lookout and picnic area at the top of North Brother Mountain.

North Brother Mountain

At 490 meters, the mountain dominates the landscape in the Camden Haven area (which is between Port Macquarie and Taree).

It is surrounded by water on all sides:
  - On the north is Queens Lake.
  - On the east is the Pacific Ocean.
  - On the south is Watson Taylors Lake (through which Camden Haven River flows).
  - On the west is Camden Haven River.

There is a steep walking track from the town of Laurieton to the top. Scroll forward is a map of the North Brother Mountain area where the track is marked as Laurieton Walking Track. There is also a road called Captain Cook Bicentennial Drive. I take the road ... why walk when you can drive !

At the top, there are:
  - Picnic areas.
  - Toilets.
  - 3 lookout platforms at the carpark:
      •  One is un-named.
      •  One is called Laurieton Lookout.
      •  One is called Don Johnstone Lookout.
  - A loop track (about 700 meters for the entire loop) that leads to another lookout ... see photos #10 to #13.

Plenty of cars drive up for a visit. But no one bothers to take a walk on the loop track. One reason maybe the start of the track is at distance from the carpark / lookout areas. Unless you explore around, you won't know the loop track exists.

The summit itself is about 300 meters from the carpark - towards the south-east. You can't drive there, you have to walk. Just like the loop track, no one bothers to go there. This is excusable ... beside a concrete cairn, there is nothing at the summit; and no view ... too many trees. The best views are at the lookout platforms at the carpark.


9434-1S  Laurieton  1:25,000

GPS tracklog file & route

For what it is worth, the GPX tracklog file of my walk can be download from:

Here is the tracklog (brown colour) in the 1:25,000 map.

In detail:
09:17  0.00 km  At start of rainforest loop track - walk in clockwise direction
09:26  0.36 km  At lookout in the loop track
09:35  0.76 km  return to start of loop track

Enjoy views at the lookouts at the carpark

09:43  0.95 km  At start of track to summit of North Brother Mountain
09:46  1.19 km  At concrete cairn marking the highest point of North Brother Mountain

09:47  1.19 km  Turn around
09:50  1.42 km  Return to start of track
09:51  1.50 km  At car


Total:  34 mins
           1.5 km  Distance is from Google Earth
           1.6 km  Distance is from Garmin GPS

Pictures - North Brother Mountain from a distance

1)  North Brother Mountain from Diamond Head

2)  North Brother Mountain from Reid Street at Laurieton (at the west side of the bridge over Camden Haven River inlet)

Top of North Brother Mountain - carpark / lookout area

3) There are nice picnic areas at the top of North Brother Mountain.  Here is one of them.
The elevation here is 487 meters. It is not the summit. The summit is another 300 meters towards the south-east. (In the pic, it is straight ahead.)

4)  There is a World War I memorial

5)  There are 3 lookout platforms - this is one of them. The view from here is similar to that in photo #7.

6)  This lookout platform, called Laurieton Lookout, is next to the one in the previous photo.

7)  The view from Laurieton Lookout is towards the north-east ~~~
- The 6 red arrows point to, from left to right:
      •  Queens Lake
      •  Tacking Point
      •  Grants Head
      •  Camden Haven River inlet
      •  Gogleys Lagoon
      •  Kattang Nature Reserve
- The beach between Tacking Point and Grants Head is Lighthouse Beach.
- The beach between Grants Head and Camden Haven River inlet is Grants Beach.
- The close by town with a green park is Laurieton.
- Further away, between the sea and Laurieton is the town of North Haven.

8)  This lookout platform is called Don Johnstone Lookout. It is on the opposite side to Laurieton Lookout.

9)  The view from Don Johnstone Lookout is towards the south ~~~
- The lake is Watson Taylors Lake
- The 3 red arrows point to, from left to right:
      •  Kylies Beach
      •  South Brother Mountain
      •  Middle Brother Mountain
- The area between the lake and Kylies Beach is Crowdy Bay National Park
There is an aboriginal dreamtime story about North, Middle & South Brother Mountains, retold by the old men of the Birpai Tribe when they met for a tribal initiation in the Kempsey area:

The three Brothers Mountains are named after three brothers. Two of them were slain and eaten by a witch. The youngest, returning from a visit to his parents, killed the witch and buried his brothers' bones on North and Middle Brother, then killed himself on South Brother.

The parents searching for their sons heard a voice telling them that each mountain held the spirit of one of their sons. And so the name of the "Three Brothers Mountains" was perpetuated.

Rainforest Loop Track

10)  There is a short rainforest loop track from the lookout and picnic area - as illustrated by this weather-beaten information board at the start of the track.
The words at the bottom of the above information board are:
1. Summit to Viewing Platform (300 m)
Suitable for people in wheelchairs with assistance. Start on western side of summit picnic area to viewing platform along tar-sealed track through the transition zone from dry to wet eucalypt forest to rainforest.

2. Viewing Platform to Summit (400 m)
Not suitable for people in wheelchairs. Track through shaded rainforest to North Brother Summit.
A moderately easy walking track that rewards you with view southward across Crowdy Bay National Park to Crowdy Head from a hidden viewing platform. A good alternative to the steep-graded walk on the eastern face of the mountain. This walk loops through cool shaded rainforest.

(Note: The word "summit" in the information board means the carpark / lookout area. The real summit is 300 meters to the south-east of the carpark.)

11)  I do the loop walk in a clockwise direction - in the reverse order of the above ~~~
These 2 photos are what the track is like.

12)  The track leads to this lookout platform.

13)  From the lookout platform, there is a good view towards south - towards Kylies Beach & Watson Taylors Lake.
The red arrow points to Crowdy Head, at the end of Kylies Beach.

Highest point of North Brother Mountain

14)  After the loop walk, I go on to the summit of North Brother Mountain ~~~
This is what the track looks like.

15)  The concrete cairn at the centre of the pic marks the summit of North Brother Mountain, 490 meters.
- It is 300 meters south-east from the carpark.
- There is no view from here - too many trees.
The track keeps on going, but I turn back from where the cairn is. And now I'm kicking myself for not keep on walking to find out where it leads to  :-(   If you know where it goes to, please let me know.

Post Script

The main activity for today is to explore the Diamond Head headland. North Brother Mountain is merely a detour on the way to there. Photos and a write up on my walk in Diamond Head are in my blog:

1 comment:

  1. Next time you are in the area, take the road that turns off the Pacific Highway near Johns River to the top of Middle Brother - short walk and stunning views from there too.


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