Wee Jasper Reserves
Explore | camping | South East Tablelands | New South Wales

Wee Jasper Reserves

Some times the best discoveries are made by mistake

by Susie Baber  |  12 December 2021

When I write this blog I often leave out a lot of the personal stuff and just give you a rundown of the place we have visited. Not today. Today you get all the drama of our weekend, or at least the journey we began with.

It was almost like someone was trying to tell us not to go away this weekend. The weather forecast was not particularly promising and it was bucketing down as we packed the van. But we were fairly determined to escape for one more weekend before the silly season gets into full swing.

The plan was to head for the south coast. I managed to snaffle the last spot in a camping area near Batemans Bay and was hopeful that the weather might improve enough for some time on the beach.

Heading out of Sydney on Friday afternoon the rain was heavy and so was the traffic. Towing the van is still quite new for us and we are still a little nervous about it, so we planned to stick to the freeway for as long as we could before turning left and heading for the coast. The last practical option seemed to be turning south from Goulburn and heading down through Tarago and Braidwood. We hadn’t made it far past the turn off when we were stopped by traffic control and a lovely lady informed us there was no way we were getting though to the coast this way – the road was blocked by flood water. In fact most of the roads heading for the coast were flooded. Our only option was to keep heading west to Yass and turn down the Barton Highway. Just as well we weren’t in a hurry, our four hour drive had just turned into an eight hour drive.

Not that we don’t trust traffic control, but ever hopeful that there might be a shorter alternative we consulted the internet and saw another route from Breadlebane. To no avail, turned back by another closed road. Then to top it off, as we returned to the freeway, we got a phone call from National Parks. Just wanted to let us know that the camping area we had booked had reported a positive COVID case and while they weren’t closing, there would be no facilities available, and they were offering a full refund if we would like it. Someone really doesn’t want us on the south coast this weekend.

Every problem has a solution

Assessing our options we decided there was probably no point battling flooded roads as well as COVID, and maybe there was somewhere closer we could spend a couple of nights. Back to the internet. A search of camping areas near Yass brought up the Wee Jasper Reserves. A quick call to the manager had us heading for Billy Grace Reserve where we were assured there was plenty of space available and the creek was definitely not flooded.

Wee Jasper is about 60km south of Yass on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. A tiny (dare I say ‘wee’) town with a long pioneering history.

Fun History Fact

Wee Jasper was home to Banjo Patterson for a few years. He lived at ‘Coodravale’ in the early 1900’s with his family and farmed the property with limited success.

The Reserves

Billy Grace Reserve is one of four reserves run by a trust. They are classified as primitive camping which means there are no powered sites. The reserves are also available for day use with picnic tables and bbqs on offer.There are toilets and showers at each of the reserves and the office is at Billy Grace if you need to pay your camping or picnic fees. The office also has a few basic provisions for sale and the staff are very friendly and helpful.

Billy Grace is at the confluence of Wee Jasper Creek and Goodradigbee River. The camping sites are not marked and you can just pick any spot that appeals to you. The area down near the river has more facilities and there are more people already set up, being the anti social creatures that we are, we opted to head to the other end of the reserve and picked a lovely grassy spot next to the babbling (but no, not flooded) creek.

Saturday morning we woke to a stunning day, not a cloud in site. After breakfast we jumped in the car to have a quick look at the town of Wee Jasper and explore the other reserves.

Wee Jasper has a church, a very cute little school, tennis court, community hall and a general store that is currently closed. And that is about it. A very small but very cute town. There was a historic pub which sadly burnt down a few years ago, there does however appear to be a distillery being built, might be worth a return trip when that opens. North of the town is Carey Cave, reportedly not as spectacular as other caves you can visit in NSW but still worth a visit and they do offer tours on weekend – just not at the moment, you know, COVID and all that.

Heading south from town the closest reserve is Fitzpatrick Trackhead Reserve. Toilets, showers, BBQs and washing up facilities. This reserve is the starting point for a section of the Hume and Hovell walking track. The complete track runs for 426km from Yass To Albury and follows the route taken by the explorers in 1824 when they tracked from Appin to the Victorian coast. This section, which runs from Wee Jasper to Fitzpatrick Trackhead, is 4km (8km return) and is quite steep, about a 6hour return walk.

Not far from here is Billy Grace Reserve, then about 3km further south is Swinging Bridge Reserve. The smallest of the reserves, along the banks of the Goodradigbee River, and although we didn’t see it there is apparently a swinging bridge. There are several historic fishing huts along the river, along with toilets and showers and several picnic spots. 

Another 4km along Nottingham Road is Micalong Creek Reserve. Probably the largest of the reserves with several groups camped but still lots of space available. 

There are a couple of short walks heading out from Micalong Creek reserve. From the eastern end of the camping area walk past the ‘no camping’ sign along the creek down to ‘The Junction’ where Micalong Creek meets the Goodradigbee River, about a 30 minute, moderate, return walk. You can continue further along the river if you would like to but you will eventually reach private property and have to turn back. From the western end of the camping area you can walk to Micalong swimming hole and Micalong Cascades. About a 15 minute walk to the swimming hole and another 10 to the falls, 45 minutes return to do both. This walk is a little harder than the Junction with a couple of steep, slipper sections and a bit of a rock scramble to see the cascades, but worth it if you are up for the challenge.

Some times the best discoveries are made by mistake. This is a fabulous camping area with great facilities. You can also bring the family pooch as long as you keep them on a leash. Fishing, short walks and just relaxing by the river. A beautiful spot to wile away a couple of days.

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