Our courses can cover:
Survival Basics: Shelter, Fire, Water, Food, Improvisation, Navigation
Bushcrafts: Hide tanning, Weaving, Making cordage, Tool making,
Nature Awareness: Camouflage, Tracking, Wildlife awareness, Nature observation, Bird Language, Botany
Food procurement: Plant identification and use, Spear making, Trapping and Hunting
Our programs help to build:
Motivation, Self reliance, Confidence, Knowledge, Initiative ability, Connections to nature, Awareness, Health, Community and Relationships
What you might expect on your camp or course…
An enjoyable time in a beautiful location with a focus on traditional bush crafts. Each day will focus on particular bush skills along with awareness based games and activities in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere. Skills will be practiced in a variety of situations – as a group, small teams and solo – and in a variety of locations. Be prepared for a bit of dirt, some water, maybe the odd scratch, and some laughs.
This is an outdoors program, so expect to feel the elements. The program will run regardless of the weather as there is a sheltered teaching space available if required.
Each day will start and end at a central meeting area. During the day we will venture into the surrounding forest, with all your needs for the day found in the bush or carried with you.
Overnight courses will include night-time activities.
What we expect
We expect everyone to be there for the start and the finish of the day. Outside of that, if you need to take time out for yourself at any time, just let us know. Some of the things we do are challenging – this is why we foster a supportive and encouraging environment.
When you come, you can make the most out of your time in nature by leaving the outside world behind. Leave mp3 players, electronic games, mobile phones, or any other screen-based distractions behind during activities – or leave them at home if you can.
No Alcohol/Drugs – these are drug free programs.
Meeting time and place
All Courses are held in the Gloucester and Dungog area unless specified.
Gloucester: The Steps Campground, 535 Manchester Road, Bindera (20km west of Gloucester). Ph.02 65582093 or visit www.boac.com.au for bookings.
Dungog: Ferndale Park Campground: 1940 Chichester Dam Road via Dungog (20km north of Dungog)
Ph.02 49959239. Camping fees can be paid on arrival. Location details in following section.
School Holiday Camps aka Wildcraft Kids Camp
Activities run from 9am-4pm each day. Parents/guardians are welcome to join in for all of the activities and are only required to stay if their child requires substantial one on one attention.
We meet 9am each day at a central location within the Campground (exact location advised by email). We return to this point at 4pm.
Those staying overnight on the Bush Craft Camps need to pay for their camping separately to owner of the campground.
Those requiring the shuttle lifts to/from Dungog Visitors Information Center or Gloucester Train Station need to arrange this beforehand.
Weekend Camps – for adults/mature students
We meet at 6pm at a central meeting place within the campground (exact location advised by email beforehand). We suggest that you arrive by 4pm on Friday to allow time to set up camp and cook dinner. We will meet on Friday at 6pm for a general introduction. You will then have a small amount of time for completing your set up and eating dinner etc before we meet up again at dusk for the official course start at 7.30pm.
It is important that everyone is present before we start, so if you will be delayed for any reason please text 0412 216 485 so we can wait for you.
Ferndale Park: Details
Ferndale Park is a scenic campground by the Chichester River, close to Chichester Dam, 20km north of Dungog. There are many camp spots, toilets, hot showers and water.
Camping fees: (if on a weekend course, your camping fees have been paid for you). Unpowered $12.50/adult, $9/child. Power (additional $6/night), firewood ($15 bag) and ice ($5 bag) are available. Pay on arrival – no bookings taken for camping.
Optional Accommodation: On-site Caravan: ~$60/night/couple, Cottage (sleeps up to 6):~$135/night/couple(min 2 night stay). Contact Ferndale Park on 02 49959239 to book in.
Mobile phone reception is very limited – Telstra may work in some areas of the campground.
To protect wildlife, cows and campers, please drive slowly on entry. Thankyou!
Ferndale Park Campground – 1940 Chichester Dam Road via Dungog.
To contact the campground phone 02 49959239
The Steps Campground: Details
The Steps of Girrba Campground is located on the beautiful Barrington River, 20km west of Gloucester. There are many camping areas, two permanent camp shelters, toilets, hot showers and water.
Camping fees: $15/adult, $8/child. Firewood ($15 bag) is available. Bookings must be made in advance via Barrington Outdoor Adventure Centre unless your camping fee is included in the course price eg Weekend Courses.
Optional Accommodation: Cottage (sleeps up to 11):~$220/night/couple (min 2 night stay). Prior booking is essential.
Mobile phone reception is very limited – Telstra may work on top of the hill.
To protect the Wallaroos, Wallabies and campers, please drive slowly on entry. Thankyou!
The Steps Campground – 535 Manchester Road Bindera via Gloucester.
To book contact BOAC via www.thestepsbarrington.com.au, or phone 02 6558 2093
For map, click here.
Overnight courses: camping information
Busk Skills Weekends
On arrival you may proceed directly to our camp site as your booking and camp fees have been arranged already. Your camping fee covers you for an unpowered site for anytime on Friday to anytime on Sunday. We have already selected a group camping site, however if you prefer another camp spot, you are welcome to camp anywhere within the camping ground.
Other Accommodation Options:
Each of the campgrounds have luxury accommodation options. Contact the campground for details.
What to Bring – all courses
- Day Pack (small backpack to carry your food, water and personal items)
- Water Bottle
- Healthy and nourishing food (eg low sugar/low additives)
- Clothes suitable for bush rambling
- Sensible walking shoes
- Additional Pair of shoes that can get wet (river shoes or thin soled shoes are ideal)
- Hat / long sleeve shirt / suncream / insect repellent (avoid aerosols)
- Small personal first aid kit – eg bandaids, bandages
- Rain jacket
- For the last day – a set of bush coloured clothes or swimmers that can get dirty
Extra items for overnight courses
- Camping gear – tent/swag, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, cooker, pots, plate, cup, utensils.
- water container – While there are taps at the campground, they are away from the campsite. By bringing your own container that holds several litres, you can have water available at the campsite. You can bring this full of water or fill it up at the campground.
- Pocket knife or knife in sheath if you have one (adults/mature students only)
Getting to the course:
We encourage car pooling – so if you are driving and have spare seats, or if you require a lift, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will do our best to match people up. For anyone providing lifts, we trust that you are a safe and considerate driver.
Directions to Ferndale Park, via Dungog
Train (and school bus, pick up or bike it):
Both the CountryLink and City Rail trains stop at Dungog. City Rail fares are a maximum of ~$8.60 Adult, ~$4.30 concession, even if coming from Sydney/Nowra. Countrylink XPT fares are higher (~$10 Adult from Newcastle). Bikes can be taken on both trains, however Countrylink requires the bike to be booked on and boxed. Pick up from the train station can be arranged if given advanced notice.
If you want a country experience, the 3.20pm Wangat School Bus from Dungog Primary School will take you to Ferndale Park’s front gate. Connecting trains arrive in Dungog at midday so you’d have about 3 hours in Dungog – it is a lovely town with information centre, cafes, antique shops, craft shops, hardware, bakery, butcher and IGA. Later trains get in to Dungog just before 5pm on Friday.
PICK UP: Pick up or drop off from Dungog Vistors Centre is available for $10/person each way (must be arranged in advance)
BIKE: It is a beautiful, slightly hilly 20km cycle out to Ferndale Park along Chichester Dam Road.
As GPS can be unreliable in the area and has got many a person lost. It is recommended to use a map and directions below.
Ferndale Park is next door to Chichester Dam, around 250km north of Sydney, 100km north of Newcastle, and 20km north of Dungog. It takes around 3 hours 20 minutes from Sydney, around 1 hour 40 minutes from Newcastle and 20 minutes from Dungog. It is fairly straight forward and well signed to Dungog and Chichester Dam, although you may feel like you are in the middle of nowhere in the last few kilometres.
DUNGOG TO FERNDALE PARK
From Dungog’s main street, Dowling Street head to the Obelisk in the middle of the road (Bank Hotel on the corner). Turn west here (left if coming from the south, turn right if coming from the north), and follow signs to Chichester Dam (veering right at the General Store). STAY on this road (Chichester Dam Road) for 20 km. You will go past 2 churches, cross the river twice and meander up and down. On top of the last hill there is a 60km speed sign, and usually Red-necked Wallabies. Soon after is the Ferndale Park sign on the right (Road marker 1940). Turn right here, and follow signs to Ferndale Park (1.5km gravel).
If you arrive at Chichester Dam, you have gone too far, so turn back and look out for Ferndale Park.
DUNGOG FROM THE SOUTH – SYDNEY TO DUNGOG
Head north along the F1 Freeway for approximately 130km. Just after the Freeway End sign, follow Highway 1 signs to Raymond Terrace turning right at the large roundabout, veer right heading to Newcastle, then exit left over the Hunter River to Heatherbraye. At Heatherbraye, turn left at the large roundabout, leaving Highway 1, to go through Raymond Terrace. Turn left at McDonalds (William St), following signs to Dungog. Keep following the signs to Dungog through Seaham and Clarence Town.
DUNGOG FROM THE SOUTH – NEWCASTLE TO DUNGOG (via Raymond Terrace, Seaham, and Clarencetown)
Head north west out of Newcastle on Maitland Road. At Hexham, stay in the left lane to merge onto Highway 1 over the Hunter River, following the signs to Raymond Terrace. At Heatherbraye, turn left at the large roundabout, leaving Highway 1, to go through Raymond Terrace. Turn left at McDonalds (William St), following signs to Dungog. Keep following signs to Dungog through Seaham and Clarence Town. See above for directions from Dungog to Ferndale Park.
NOTE: You can also get to Dungog via Maitland and Paterson, or via the Bucketts Way/Limeburners Creek/Clarencetown.
DUNGOG FROM THE NORTH – BRISBANE TO DUNGOG
Head south along the Pacific Highway and take the Buladelah exit. Just south of town, look for the road to Booral/Stround on the right – it is easy to miss – turn right here. (Note: the highway has been upgraded in this section so accessing this road may have changed). This road to Booral is a potholed windy road for about 25km. At Booral turn right, Pass through Stroud and then turn left to Dungog. When you get into Dungog, turn Right at the Obelisk in the middle of the road and follow the directions above to Ferndale Park.
DUNGOG FROM THE NORTH – GLOUCESTER TO DUNGOG
Head South on the Bucketts Way from Gloucester for around 40km. Turn Right into Stroud Hill Road (Signed to DUNGOG). It is 25km to Dungog from here. When you get into Dungog, turn Right at the Obelisk in the middle of the road and follow the directions above to Ferndale Park.
Directions to The Steps Campground, via Gloucester
Directions to Gloucester from Sydney:
• Take the M1 Pacific Motorway (previously called F3) from Wahroonga, head north 128 km towards Newcastle until you get to the end of the freeway, marked by a large roundabout (ignore any Newcastle exits) approx 1.25 hours from the Wahroonga turn-off.
• Turn right at the roundabout signed to Brisbane/Pacific Hwy and travel 6km.
• Turn left across the Hunter River over the Hexham Bridge onto the Pacific Hwy, heading north towards Taree.
• Drive past Raymond Terrace/Heatherbrae heading towards Taree. (caution: Do not take the left turn at the roundabout to ‘Barrington Tops via Dungog’, that is the way to Ferndale Park.)
• Drive for 28km along the Pacific Hwy, then at 12 Mile Creek just past the truck inspection station, turn left at the large brown tourist sign for Gloucester, onto the Bucketts Way (if you get to Karuah or Buladelah you’ve gone too far). You’re on Tourist Drive 2, the second road in NSW to be declared a tourist route, way back in 1961.
• Travel for 80km along Bucketts Way to Gloucesters and continue along the main street – Church Street. (Last chance to buy provisions at Foodworks or Woolworths; maybe stop for a coffee at Roadies Café on the left hand side & admire the antique motor bikes.)
Basic Directions from the North
You can take the Taree exit and travel through Wingham or turn off at Tinonee to Gloucester for the most scenic drive to Gloucester. The quickest way is to keep heading south to Nabiac and take the Gloucester turn off on the right. Follow the signs to Gloucester passing through Krambach.
Directions to The Steps from Gloucester (about 20 minutes):
NB. There is very limited mobile phone reception once you leave Gloucester.
At the roundabout at north end of the main street, head west (left turn if coming from the south) onto Park Street – this becomes Thunderbolts Way which heads towards Tamworth.
· Soon out of town after crossing the Gloucester River, there is Barrington Outdoor Adventure Centre on the right. They own the Steps campground – you are welcome to call in and they can help you with any queries.
•Otherwise continue driving 8km on Thunderbolts Way, through the village of Barrington (last chance for petrol, provisions and decent mobile phone coverage)
•After Barrington Village, you cross the Barrington River Bridge (extreme caution – one lane only, expect to give way). NB. You must cross the river to Barrington West Road (Barrington East Road is the long way and involves a river crossing)
•After crossing the bridge, turn left at the next intersection, onto Barrington West Road (this turn is easy to miss, so get ready to turn left as soon as you cross the bridge – if you get to a major right turn to Walcha you’ve gone 200m too far).
•Drive 8km along Barrington West Road then turn right into Manchester Road (road becomes gravel)
•Drive 5km along Manchester Road, then you’ll see the sign for The Steps of Girrba just after the green water tank (caution – wallabies and wallaroos frequent the area – please drive slowly and safely)