Keen to kick 2018 off with a bang, we booked a weekend away at Wave Hill Station near Grafton in early January. We found the farm stay via Airbnb. Keen to stay in a cabin rather than the tent to avoid the sweltering summer heat, their cute Dingo Cottage looked like just the place we were after!
If you’re looking for a unique place to stay, we definitely recommend checking out Airbnb. We’ve stayed at a wide range of Airbnb’s all over the country – a huge open-plan studio that used to be a wine tasting room in Beechworth, a luxurious one bedroom unit in a converted presbytery in Broken Hill, and lovely studio-style cottage in the rolling hills of Timboon. We love staying in Airbnb’s for an experience far more unique than a fancy hotel can offer. It also gives us the chance to chat with locals – the hosts – who can provide insight that no tourist book can tell you! If you’re new to Airbnb and book a stay via any of the links in this post you’ll get $50 off. In the interest of full disclosure, we’ll also get a bit of credit towards our future travels, too. That makes it a win-win, right?
Wave Hill Station Activities
Wave Hill Station caught our eye not only because of the rustic farmhouse known as Dingo Cottage, but also because it was nestled in the middle of an area we’d never visited before. The Clarence Valley region of New South Wales includes the likes of Yamba and Grafton, as well as a bunch of small towns we’d previously never heard of. Wave Hill Station backs onto the Clarence River offering the opportunity to fish, swim, kayak, or just relax. There’s also plenty of chances for bird watching and bushwalking, either on the property or throughout the surrounding areas. The property even has horses if relaxing on a trail ride is your thing!
If you’d prefer to roll out your swag under the stars there are campsites on the property but you’ll have to book ahead. The owners prefer to keep the number of campers to a minimum, offering large, peaceful campsites, so you won’t feel like you’re living out of each others’ pockets. In addition to Dingo Cottage, there’s also the choice of two other cabins – a retro styled cabin near the main house, and an off-the-grid cabin right near the river. There’s also a couple of Safari Tents, too.
Dingo Cottage was the original farmhouse on the property. It has a genuine rustic vibe with wooden floor boards, a front verandah overlooking the dam, iron beds in both bedrooms, and a detached bathroom with a claw-foot bathtub. The cottage is basic, though does have a fridge and lights run by solar power, and hot water heated by a wood-fired “donkey” system. Don’t expect the Hilton when you stay here… but that’s not really what you come to a location like this for, is it? Dingo Cottage has more character than you’ll ever find in a high-end resort, and we’re sure you’ll find it much more memorable, just like we did!
We loved that the cottage is pet-friendly – a bonus for us as we prefer to take Dog with us on our travels. The front verandah is a great spot to relax as the sun goes down. The horses grazed around the cottage each afternoon and were happy to get a pat. Firing up the hot water donkey for a refreshing shower each evening was also a novelty that made the stay unique.
It’s also worth noting that there’s no mobile phone reception with any provider on most of the property. However, you will find Telstra reception a few kilometres up the track towards the river. The location is well marked on the property map and at the site.
Exploring Wave Hill Station
While both Dingo Cottage and Orange Tree Cottage are near the main house and can be accessed via a 2WD vehicle, you’ll need something with 4WD and low-range to venture much beyond that. The track through the property to the river has some decent climbs, wash outs and steep drop offs to watch out for. In wet weather we imagine it’d become quite difficult in places. We set aside a full day to explore the property and definitely needed it.
The river was up after heavy rains prior to our stay. Not being keen to tackle the rough currents and rapids we decided against swimming or kayaking, though there were quieter sections of river where this would have been much more enjoyable. There’s a walking track down to the river starting at the Safari Tents. The track isn’t suitable for those with mobility issues as it is quite narrow pushing through the surrounding scrub and a little steep in sections. However, if you’re keen to make the short trek down, it is quite relaxing sitting on the rocks watching the rapids.
Exploring the region
Wave Hill Station is roughly an hour north-west from Grafton. You’ll find everything you need to stock up on supplies here, with all your major supermarkets and so forth being in this large country town. Heading towards Wave Hill Station you’ll find a pub, general store and post-office at Copmanhurst.
We found a free camp by chance right on the river in the Lilydale area, right by the bridge on Winegrove Road. The campsite has an amenities block, though there is some discussion on the Wikicamps app regarding whether these facilities are always left unlocked. There also isn’t much shade to set up camp under, with only a few trees along the river’s edge. Another option if you’re keen to camp is The Gorge on the other side of the Clarence River. This is a paid campground with full amenities, and also right on the river. They have a number of large, grassy campsites available, though recommend that you book ahead, particularly in peak times.
The area is surrounded by State Forests and National Parks if you’re keen to explore – we didn’t get the chance this time. However, we did take a drive around many of the backroads, passing through Jackadgery, Coombadjah, Fine Flower, and Winegrove. The country changes dramatically as you drive, with rolling green hills dotted with cattle grazing becoming rocky gorges with the Mann and Clarence Rivers snaking their way through the landscape.