Bielsdown River

Billings Road to Nymboida River (with alternate shorter put in)

Verified! Steep Creek Advanced Rain Run! CLASS III CLASS IV CLASS V


Northern Tablelands and Northern Rivers. 80km East of Coffs Harbour

Contributed by Mark Killip


Class: III / IV (some IV)

Season: When it rains. Usually Jan-May. (Often good at Easter)

Gradient: Not sure, but sections are up to 100m/km. Mostly about 40m/km I would estimate

Time: 5-8hrs depending on group, water level, and put in location

Length: Full trip is approx 14km on the Bielsdown and 6.5km on the Nymboida. The shorter section would take approx 5km off this (2 hrs)

Level: We paddled it at 1m and it was perfect. It would still be very nice lower but rocky in places. Possibly down to 0.8?

Gauge: Bielsdown Creek at Dorrigo

Shuttle: Same as Platypus Flat vehicle, so a reasonable clearance 2 wheel drive or a 4x4 is ideal

Character: Pool drop creek with some moderate length rapids

Suits: Grade IV paddlers. Everything is portagable without any real problems

Thanks to Brian Cork (and Boris) for writing the "Steep Creeks on the Dorrigo Plateau" guide. It allowed us to experience what may well be the best steep creek section in the country.

See Billings Road to Nymboida River

We put in at an alternate put in which takes about 6.5km (2-3hrs), most of the pools, two possible portages and lots of low branches out of the trip.

It does miss two nice drops, but I feel this make the river a more enjoyable day. If you have plenty of time, the longer trip is great as well. Take a saw.

My recommendation however is the shorter option.

The shorter option puts you about 300m above the top of the steepest section of the river. There is a short section of long pools to warm up, then you are into 4 nice runnable drops, all easy to scout.

Take great care after the 4-6m falls (nice and clean as there is a grade 2 lead up that goes straight into a grade 5 15m waterfall section. These falls could be ran, but there are 3 must make boofs at the level we scouted at and it’s a bit nasty if you don’t get the line! Portage is on river right. It is a bit slippery and steep as you come back down the hill to the river. You may want to lower the boats down if you are not good on your feet.

From here there is a lot of scout and run, and read and run drops that are really nice the whole way down to the Nymboida. We portaged one drop, but only after the leader got a working in the 1st hole and had a very nasty swim. It’s all very runnable though.

Comments: We put in just above the waterfall by accident scouting the alternate short route in, and then had to carry around it anyway.

From the bottom of the waterfall it took 3 reasonable grade IV paddlers 4 hrs to get to Platypus Flat.

We then got back in after lunch and ran the section from Billings Road to the waterfall to see what we had missed. As long as you go straight through the farmers’ paddocks at the put in, and end up at the top of the U shape in the river and get the 4 nice drops, there is not a huge amount to rave about the top section.

Two of the drops we portaged. One was a narrow fall that could easily spin your face into a rock, can’t really remember the other one, but we didn't like the look of it. Once we got to the put in we suggest above the 1km of 100m/km section, it was less than an hour to the waterfall. So we would have done the river in 5 hrs easily including the portage of the large falls. A group that has never paddled this section or the Nymboida should be able to do it in 6 hrs comfortably if you scout reasonably quickly. Leave 8hrs+ light for your first run.

Putting In: Billings Road (longer section) or private property located at the end of Davidson Road, which turns west off Lower Bielsdown Road at Tallowood ridge. This is private property and the farmer at the house on the left on the way in needs to be asked. At time of writing there is a family dispute over this land, and the house at the very end of the road is still abandoned and has been for a few years. In a 2x2, park at the farm house on the left and drag your boat a 300m or so through the paddocks down to the river. This will put you about 300m above the steepest 1km of the trip (so only one pool!)

Taking Out: Platypus Flat. See Nymboida guide if you canít see it on the map. It is 6.5km down the Nymboida.

Map: Dorrigo 1:25000

Camping: Platypus Flat is a good base camp for the area, on the Nymboida

Entry Date: 14 April 2009

Verified by: Brian Cork


Do YOU know MORE or BETTER than this?
Want to offer your own experiences / opinions on this paddle?