Free Bush Camping near Tabulam NSW

This long weekend we went camping. It was forecast to rain on the weekend, but be fine out west, near Tenterfield. So we packed up our stuff, including the dog, and off in to the sunset we drove.

We first went to Ewingar Forest Camp. We had been here before, and after doubting our GPS and how long it may take to get to another we had planned to visit, we thought we’d go with what we knew, as it was soon going to be dark.

We had been to Ewingar State Forest, and the Forest Camp, before, in our pre-kids days. We had found it in a 4wd weekender book, and tried to get there from memory, to find that our first turn off the Bruxner highway had a sign up saying the road was now closed indefinitely, so we had to go back to the GPS to direct us to the camp.

campfire at Ewingar

Toasting some marshmallows on the fire at Ewingar Forest Camp

We found the camp quite easily, and the road was in a reasonable condition. The camp had deteriorated since we had last stayed, the grass was long, the firewood shed had fallen down and the sign was broken in half, now saying “REST CAMP” on the sign, with “EWINGAR FO” on the cabin. It was a little surprising to have a few others arrive, who said they were staying in the cabin and camp kitchen (I believe it was built as a camp kitchen, but it really is just a room with a large open fireplace in it). They were fossickers from the Byron Shire.

The facilities include tank water, two long drops, 3 small separate inclosed “rooms”, a “camp kitchen” and a cabin. When we first came in 2009, firewood was provided, and the main cabin (a small house type cabin) and the long drop next to it were locked. We believed they were used by forestry workers. There is a large double bay shed that is still locked, most likely used for forestry storage.

Ewingar State  Forest Camp - Lizard

BallinaGirl with a skink we found, it was named Rosie. (Part of the main cabin, and it’s long drop can be seen in the background)

You can make a camp fire where ever you like on the site, as long as there is no current fire ban. We toasted marmallows, on a small fire before heading to bed. Dogs are also allowed in state forests, so BallinaDog got to have a good run around.

I checked out the cabin, once the occupants had packed up and gone home. It would have been a cute little dwelling at some stage. It, at one stage, had a shower installed in there, as there was gas water previously installed which had now been removed. There was a main area, with a big open fireplace, with the “bathroom” coming off this area, and a “bedroom” added on to the back. There are some random pieces of furniture in the cabin (chair, table, shelving, metal spring base of a bed), and some long shelf life food supplies left on a shelf. There is a few artworks on the walls, with some recommendations of leaving something useful, and making sure you take your rubbish. There was also a bowl of some “half crystals”, which leads me to believe that a lot of people go fossicking in the area, and use this as a base to stay.

There is nothing really too special about the site, not much view, and no “attractions” near by. But there are a lot of dirt tracks to take out your 4wd. We stumbled upon a few creeks, and had a quick “fossick” in a little one under a bridge. It would be a lovely place to splash around with the kids (who had fallen asleep by then). We also drove past a sign warning that there was some old mine shafts around. We were keen to try find them, but couldn’t see them from the road, so presume they were signs for hunters, or people who may go off the track.


Driving through a natural ford, following the GPS on some crazy 4wd tracks. We had to turn around and go back the way we came in. We weren’t prepared for serious off road adventuring.

We moved on to the original place we had planned to stay at, on Hootens Road. We followed the GPS’ directions, and went past where it thought we wanted to go. We kept driving to see if we could find it, and just as we were about to give up, we saw where the creek met the river on the GPS, that we had read about on a camping app. There were quite a few people camping here already, but we were able to drive up the back and get a space to ourselves on the river.

As soon as we got out, BallinaDog was in the river swimming, the kids wanted their bikes and found a “sandpit” and we quickly set up camp, trying to figure out where we would be able to position our set up to be able to get dry before we left (an issue we didn’t think of at Ewingar).

Campsite at Hootens Road

Setting up camp at Hootens Road, Lower Duck Creek

We set up a camp fire in an area already set up, circled with rocks. It was cold, and strangely, we discovered that the Tabulam area must be in a flight path. While the planes were high up, the quietness, seemed to help amplify their sound.

This campground, found on Hootens Road, is just bare land that people seem to camp on. There are no facilities, other than some areas where people have made rock circles to have camp fires. The grass is low though, as I think it is grazed by cattle, and the river is lovely to look at (although looks a bit too weedy for me to swim in).

We found that there was actually a quicker way to get there than the GPS first sent us, and we came out right across from where we came back to the Bruxner from Ewingar, which was slightly frustrating! We definitely need a map so we can double check the GPS knows what it is doing, and where it is sending us!

By the river at Hootens Road Camp

Climbing trees for a seat to watch BallinaDog’s water sports in the river, while the sun came up over the surrounding hills.

We were really happy that we found the new camp site, and plan to come back another time, hopefully with some friends to accompany us. We also hope to go back to Ewingar, but maybe when we have better off roading capabilities.


4 thoughts on “Free Bush Camping near Tabulam NSW

  1. Looks like you had a fabulous weekend and i just might know some people who would be keen to accompany you next time 😉

  2. I used to mow the grass at Ewingar Forestry Camp. Haven’t been able to do so for a few years. It is quite simple- if no one looks after the place it will fall down.

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