Murrumbidgee Valley National Park
If you’re looking for a scenic day trip near Murrumbidgee River, near Narrandera, go 4WDing or mountain biking along Forest drive, in Murrumbidgee Valley National Park.
- 16km one-way
- Time suggested
Whether you’re touring by car, on a mountain bike, or hiking, Forest drive is a great route for exploring the MIA I section of Murrumbidgee Valley. There’s an abundance of birdlife in the area, so make sure you bring your binoculars. Look out for apostlebirds travelling in groups of 12, grey-crowned babblers with their distinctive curved bill, and dollarbirds with circular markings under each wing like old-fashioned silver dollars.
Murrumbidgee Valley National Park’s MIA (Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area) precincts, which are dominated by river red gums, access over 100km of river frontage. As well as river red gums, there are also white cypress pine, yellow box and black box growing in this area.
There’s also plenty to do whilst exploring the park along Forest drive. Why not have a swim at Middle Beach, find a shady riverside spot to fish, or enjoy a picnic whilst bird watching at Turkey Flat or McCaughey’s lagoon?
For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/driving-routes/forest-drive/local-alerts
- in Murrumbidgee Valley National Park in the Murray-Riverina region
Murrumbidgee Valley National Park is always open but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.
All the practical information you need to know about Forest drive.
Getting there and parking
Forest Drive can be accessed from within the MIA I or MIA II precincts of the Murrumbidgee Valley National Park. To get there:
- Travel northwest on Irrigation Way for about 12km
- Turn left at the signpost for MIA I
- Follow the access road in a southerly direction for about 2.5km to grid
- This is Grahams Grave Road entrance to MIA I and the start of Forest Drive.
Note: When exiting MIA I to join MIA II:
- Briefly travel north along Irrigation Way before turning left onto Kiln Road
- Follow Kiln Rd to McCaughey’s lagoon before turning left onto Euroly Road. Follow for about 2.3km
- Turn right onto Forest Drive to enter MIA II
- Travel south on Irrigation Way for about 500m
- Turn right onto Euroly Road for 400m
- Turn right onto River Road and follow for about 3.2km
- From the left turnoff for Turkey Flat picnic area, continue another 2.3km in a westerly direction along River Road to the park exit/entry point
- Turn left to begin the Forest Drive in the MIA II precinct
Note: When exiting MIA II to join MIA I
- Turn left onto Euroly Road. Follow for 2.3km
- Turn right onto Kiln Road to McCaughey’s lagoon and followl reaching Irrigation Way.
- Follow Irrigation Way south briefly before turning right onto Forest Drive to enter MIA I
Best times to visit
There are lots of great things waiting for you in Murrumbidgee Valley National Park. Here are some of the highlights.
Evenings can be balmy at this time of year, so it's still a great time to camp.
Picturesque morning mists are common at this time of year and birds and animals are most active.
Enjoy early morning and late afternoon swimming during these hotter months.
This is Murray crayfish season, and a great time to head to the river.
Weather, temperature and rainfall
16°C and 32°C
4°C and 16.5°C
The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day
Maps and downloads
Disability access level - hard
- Wheelchairs can access this area with some difficulty
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.
Forest drive is in Murrumbidgee Valley National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:
Murrumbidgee Valley National Park is synonymous with Riverina river redgum forests – an iconic Australian eucalypt which grows to awe-inspiring heights. With a deep red colour curving along rivers and channels, Riverina river red gum is of international significance. These special eucalypts provide a home to koalas, which you may spot in their branches. Bird watchers might catch a glimpse of white-bellied sea eagles, sacred kingfishers, and threatened superb parrots, amid the majestic trees. There are plenty of fishing opportunities available in the park too, with yellow belly, redfin and brim fish to catch in the area. Murrumbidgee Valley is also a sanctuary for reptiles and kangaroos.
- Forest drive If you’re looking for a scenic day trip near Murrumbidgee River, near Narrandera, go 4WDing or mountain biking along Forest drive, in Murrumbidgee Valley National Park.
- Turkey Flat picnic area and bird hide Set on Murrumbidgee River, Turkey Flat picnic area and bird hide is a great picnic spot. Visiting these NSW wetlands is a top choice for things to do in Leeton.
Take me to the river
Murrumbidgee River flows in a westerly direction and is over 1,600km long. Murrumbidgee Valley national and regional parks access over 500km of river frontage at irrigation hubs of Narrandera, Yanco, Leeton, the plains of Maude and Hay, and the edge of the mallee at Balranald. River red gums benefit from times of flooding as it recharges the subsoil with water. The river supports river red gums forests, which in turn support the banks of the river with their root systems. Logged since the 1820s and managed as forests by the government since the early 1900s, in 2010 NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service protected 107,000ha of river red gums by creating new parks and reserves, which will now be enjoyed for generations to come.
- McCaugheys Lagoon McCaugheys Lagoon in Murrumbidgee Valley National Park is a great spot for birdwatching or a romantic picnic.
- Middle Beach This sandy Murrumbidgee River haven, Middle Beach, is an ideal place to go canoeing, kayaking, fishing, swimming or picnicking. Secluded camping spots can be found nearby.
Water, water everywhere
Europeans settled the area in the 1840s. By the early 1900s, private irrigation works were replaced by government projects to develop Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA). Eventually, MIA supplied water to an area of 182,000ha and enabled subdivision of grazing land into smaller units of mixed farming, horticulture, dairy and sheep. During the 1950s, Italian migrants to Australia were drawn to the area because of its similar climate and soil to Italy and became integral in the success of Riverina agriculture.
River red gums have been important to Wiradjuri people, the traditional land owners of Murrumbidgee Valley, for thousands of years. As well as being used for making canoes and shields, they also provide warmth, shelter and food. Some river red gums were large enough for individuals to sleep in, and light a small fire during the cold nights. Even today, Wiradjuri artists in Narrandera use river red gum to make boomerangs, coolamons and carved didgeridoos.
Plants and animals you may see
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.
Common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus)
Commonly found in forests, woodlands and leafy gardens across eastern NSW, the Australian ringtail possum is a tree-dwelling marsupial. With a powerful tail perfectly adapted to grasp objects, it forages in trees for eucalypt leaves, flowers and fruit.
Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)
Of the 2 species of kookaburra found in Australia, the laughing kookaburra is the best-known and the largest of the native kingfishers. With its distinctive riotous call, the laughing kookaburra is commonly heard in open woodlands and forests throughout NSW national parks, making these ideal spots for bird watching.
River red gum (Eucalpytus camaldulensis)
Australian native plants, majestic river red gum trees are widespread across Australian inland river systems. The river red gum is a dominant tree species of the Murray-Darling basin which spans NSW, Queensland and Victoria. This iconic native eucalypt grows to a height of 30m and is thought to have a lifespan up to 500-1000 years.
Saltbush (Atriplex nummularia)
A hardy Australian native plant, the saltbush is a small spreading shrub that can withstand dry salty soils such as those found in the desert plains of western NSW. It is grey-white in colour and has small spear-shaped succulent leaves. It flowers from December to April.