Carrai and Coachwood trails

Carrai National Park

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Carrai and Coachwood trails combines 2 remote 4WD adventures in Carrai National Park and Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, between Kempsey and Armidale.

137km one-way
Time suggested
2 days
What to
Drinking water, snacks, clothes for all weather conditions, first aid kit, personal locator beacon
Please note
  • This route combines Carrai trail in Carrai National Park and Coachwood trail in neighbouring Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.
  • It can be driven in either direction.
  • The start of Carrai Road to Kookaburra is 24km. It’s another 22.5km to/from Daisy Plains picnic area. It’s around 51km from Coachwood Road to Oxley Highway via Racecourse trail and Kangaroo Flat Road.
  • This is a remote area. Please ensure you’re well-equipped, with fuel, spare tyre, water, and warm clothing. It’s a good idea to bring a personal locator beacon.

This route combines Carrai trail in Carrai National Park and Coachwood trail in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. Driven in either direction, it’s a great way for self-reliant 4WD enthusiasts to explore the views and natural beauty of the mountain plateau west of Port Macquarie.

From Kempsey, it’s around a 1hr drive to reach Carrai trail, which follows unsealed Carrai Road through open farmland before delivering you into the forest. After around 24km, at the junction with Coachwood Road, stop for a break in Kookaburra. Once a thriving centre for trade in prized red cedar, it’s now a ghost town overgrown by trees.

From Kookaburra, continue around 22.5km north along Carrai trail, through old growth forest to Daisy Plains picnic area. Set among tall eucalypts, it's a good place to stop for lunch if you want a break from driving.

Listen to the squawk of glossy black cockatoos before backtracking to the junction with Coachwood Road. Follow this trail, which winds 17km through Gondwana rainforest in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. The 300m walk to unfenced Hoppy’s lookout is an optional stop along the trail.

From the end of Coachwood trail, connect with scenic Racecourse trail around 19km, and make your way out via Werrikimbe National Park, and Walcha.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info


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Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Carrai and Coachwood trails.

Getting there and parking

Carrai trail is in Carrai National Park, and Coachwood trail is in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. To get to there:

From Kempsey:

  • Turn off Macleay Valley Way north of Kempsey onto Second Lane
  • Cross the train line and continue to the end of the road
  • Turn right onto River Street which becomes Armidale Road
  • Drive around 19km then turn left on Temagog Road
  • After 8.5km this becomes Willi Willi Road, continue 17.5km
  • Turn left onto Carrai Road. From here, it’s 24km to Coachwood Road or 46.5km to Daisy Plains picnic area.

From Armidale:

  • Take New England Highway south then Oxley Highway east
  • From Walcha continue around 54km
  • Turn left onto Kangaroo Flat Road and follow signs to Werrikimbe National Park
  • Take Mooraback Road, then Racecourse trail through to Coachwood Road
  • From here, Coachwood Road travels 17km to Kookaburra, where it meets Carrai Road.

Road quality

  • Unsealed roads

Vehicle access

  • All roads require 4WD vehicle

Weather restrictions

  • Dry weather only


  • Non-flush toilets and a kitchen hut with open fire are located at Daisy Plains huts in Carrai National Park. Bring your own firewood.
  • The huts also offer basic accommodation on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Please ensure you’re well-equipped.
  • There are no bins so please take your rubbish with you when you leave the park.

Maps and downloads

Safety messages

These 4WD trails are in a remote area. It’s a good idea to advise a family member of friend of your travel plans.

Mobile safety

Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency Plus app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).


Bushwalking permitted. Keep well back from cliff edges, lookouts and waterfalls at all times, especially when taking photos. Please stay on tracks, be aware of your surroundings and footing, and ensure children are supervised.


Permitted at Daisy Plains hut. Free camping is not permitted along this route.


Mountain biking is permitted on public roads.


Camp fires and solid fuel burners

Gathering firewood



Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the pets in parks policy for more information.

If you're travelling through a national park or reserve on a public road you can have pets inside your vehicle. However, you must keep them inside your vehicle while driving through national parks or reserves. You must also comply with any conditions in the park’s plan of management, and you cannot stop to visit the park or use park facilities (unless for safety reasons, or to use publicly accessible toilets).


NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

Learn more

Carrai and Coachwood trails is in Carrai National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

A safe haven for native animals

Hastings River mouse (Pseudomys oralis), Carrai National Park. Photo: OEH

Maintaining vast tracts of remote forest, like those at Carrai, is essential for protecting biodiversity and keeping the populations of native animals at high levels. Carrai is known to harbour endangered species like the Hastings River mouse, a rodent that likes damp habitats, and the giant barred frog, which grows to a size of about 12cm and lays its eggs on banks overhanging rivers. Listen for its deep grunt when you stop by a creek.

  • Daisy Plains picnic area Visit Daisy Plains picnic area when you travel through Carrai National Park by 4WD. It’s the perfect spot for peaceful lunch when exploring this park’s beautiful forests and steep escarpments.

From the 1800s

Daisy Plains Huts, an old forestry camp on Carrai Road, Carrai National Park. Photo: Shane Ruming/OEH

In many ways, Carrai’s remote location has protected it from extensive grazing and mining. In 1818, John Oxley was the first European to visit the New England Tablelands, closely followed by cedar loggers. Graziers eventually moved their stock up river valleys onto the tablelands. Both tin and gold were mined in the area until the 1960s, and forestry ceased in the early 90s.

  • Carrai and Coachwood trails Carrai and Coachwood trails combines 2 remote 4WD adventures in Carrai National Park and Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, between Kempsey and Armidale.

Protecting Carrai's wilderness

Rock outcrop in Carrai National Park. Photo: Piers Thomas/OEH

An area of 3,530ha within Carrai National Park has been declared wilderness under the Wilderness Act 1987. Although much of Carrai's forested area has been affected in some way by human habitation - logging and grazing, for example - it's now protected, allowing it to recover. There are three old-growth forest ecosystems in the park, including groves of white mahogany, dry redgum, bloodwood, native apple, and tallowwood. Look for the endangered Guthrie's grevillea, with its green and maroon flowers, as well as epiphytic orchids attached to the trunks of trees.

  • Daisy Plains picnic area Visit Daisy Plains picnic area when you travel through Carrai National Park by 4WD. It’s the perfect spot for peaceful lunch when exploring this park’s beautiful forests and steep escarpments.

Traditional lands of Thunggutti People

The view from Carrai National Park over the upper Macleay Valley. Photo: Piers Thomas/OEH

The Carrai plateau is a special place for the Thunggutti People, with many ceremonial sites that have their origins in the dreamtime. It's believed that Aboriginal people moved from the coastal hinterlands to the New England Tablelands, including parts of what is now Carrai National Park, during the summer months. In the early to mid-1800s, the rugged country at the head of Macleay River also provided refuge for many Aboriginal people.

Plants and animals protected in this park


  • Profile view of a rufous scrub-bird (Atrichornis rufescens) standing on a mossy rock. Glen Trelfo © Glen Trelfo

    Rufous scrub-bird (Atrichornis rufescens)

    The vulnerable rufous scrub-bird is a small, ground-foraging bird that lives only in isolated rainforest areas of south-eastern Australia.

  • Swamp wallaby in Murramarang National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    Swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor)

    The swamp wallaby, also known as the black wallaby or black pademelon, lives in the dense understorey of rainforests, woodlands and dry sclerophyll forest along eastern Australia. This unique Australian macropod has a dark black-grey coat with a distinctive light-coloured cheek stripe.

  • Southern boobook. Photo: David Cook

    Southern boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae)

    The southern boobook, also known as the mopoke, is the smallest and most common native owl in Australia. With a musical 'boo-book' call that echoes through forests and woodlands, the southern boobook is a great one to look out for while bird watching.

  • Brush tail possum. Photo: Ken Stepnell

    Common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)

    One of the most widespread of Australian tree-dwelling marsupials, the common brushtail possum is found across most of NSW in woodlands, rainforests and urban areas. With strong claws, a prehensile tail and opposable digits, these native Australian animals are well-adapted for life amongst the trees.

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