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Byron Shire
May 16, 2021

True wilderness for original tree changers

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Clarence River Wilderness Lodge

Steve and Sharon were the original tree changers, even before the phrase was coined. They left their city jobs some 39 years ago to build themselves something different to the suburban dream, in the middle of the Great Dividing Range at the headwaters of NSW’s largest coastal river – the Clarence.

They were organic farmers for some years with the help of overseas travellers (Willing Workers on Organic Farms). These helpers are what inspired Steve and Sharon to build what would become the Clarence River Wilderness Lodge.

The backpackers would often return, after travelling around Australia, to say that this region was one of the most scenic parts of the country they had visited.

Given Steve and Sharon’s commitment to environmental values and their limited financial resources, they decided to rebirth some existing buildings.

One of the cabins started life as a ‘tickies’ accommodation on the Mt Lindsay border gate. The other cabin was a main roads workers’ accommodation. These cabins were refurbished in a rustic style using timber that had been felled and milled on the property.

The inspiration for the tree huts came from an early type of semi-permanent camp used by selectors and tick fence boundary riders in the region. To protect the canvas and give good cross flow ventilation, a corrugated iron roof was built over the canvas tent as well as half timber walls and a timber floor. This type of structure was used by the early settlers for up to ten years while they accumulated the resources to be able to build a more permanent structure.

Off the shelf safari huts seen in lots of remote tourism operations were contemplated, but it was decided something that had the uniquely Australian look and feel would better suit this location, and Steve and Sharon’s love of early Australian colonial history.

The Clarence River Wilderness Lodge is in true wilderness, with 11km of Clarence River/Tooloom creek frontage and surrounded by the Cataract and Yabbra National parks. Steve and Sharon manage their 1200 ha for its environmental values, dedicating the property as a wildlife refuge before they even moved onto the land.

They look forward to sharing their slice of paradise with you.

To find out what adventures await you at the Clarence River Wilderness Lodge, visit their website: www.clarenceriver.com.

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