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Published March 9th 2014
Black Rocks rock
So the challenge was set: find a campground that had a place to swim, a place to fish and a place to relax.
Cue some frantic Googling and we eventually stumbled across the Bundjalung National Park, and in particular the Black Rocks Campground just south of Ballina.
Like so many things these days, it's easy to book a campsite online - the main thing for those with vehicles is to book a parking site. There are a number of sites without parking (walk-in sites), but with all the basic sites just $20 per night you can always call like we did and change the site type.
Before arriving at Bundjalung (the three accommodation points are Black Rocks, Woody Head campsite and Woody Heads Cottages & Cabins) people must purchase a car pass for every car that will enter the park. While there's no way of buying this at the park's entrance, you can stop in at Alstonville west of Ballina and purchase a pass there. The bonus part about doing this is that there is an excellent butchers on Main Street that sells quality fresh meat - for around $30 we managed to buy enough steak and different-flavoured sausages for three of us to have leftovers a couple of days later. Alstonville is also a good place to stock up with at the local supermarket.
Suitably stocked we headed into the campsite, turning off just south of Woodburn and heading down 12km of dirt track. Two-wheel drives can make it down this track, as my fully-laden Holden Commodore proved.
The campground itself was really split into two after fires in November 2013 tore through the northern part. You see the burnt trees on the drive in; walking south to north you can see how far the fire went as the vegetation surrounding each site goes from green to burnt.
A still-functional campsite at Black Rocks post-bushfire
Walk north of the campsite and you can head up towards Jerusalem Creek, a popular swimming, fishing and paddling spot. It's around this area that the fire damaged but didn't destroy - oddly enough it provides an interesting change from the beach area and in a certain way provides its own beauty.
Heading along the beach you'll find the black rocks that give the campsite its name. The rocks themselves are "coffee rocks" of the same type found on Fraser Island.
The campsite itself has most facilities except for showers; while the northern end of the campsite was affected by the bushfire the southern end where we stayed was surrounded on three sides by thick vegetation that provide a level of privacy and noise reduction. If not for the people that walk past on their way to the beach or to the bathrooms, it would be easy to think you have the place to yourself.
For those minus a 4WD but still looking to get away from it all, Black Rocks Campground is well worth a look - not bad for a random bit of Googling!