Ashford, just south of the Queensland border in rural NSW, is a (very) small town that is doing it tough. In a bid to bring much needed tourism to the area, the locals have done some light-hearted re-branding and dubbed it ‘Cod’s Own Country’ after the mighty Murray Cod, which can be caught locally in the Severn River. While Murray Cod fishing might be one of the main attractions of the area, excellent bush camping for those who just want to chill and relax in a pristine natural environment is also available.
We camped right on the banks of the Severn, in an absolutely awesome spot off the main Pindari Dam Road, on property owned by Fernlee River Camping. This was a spot that that only recently opened up for camping, and offered no facilities, apart from an area where the grass had been mown short. What it did offer though, was solitude, peace, tranquility, and a ‘hands-on’ view of the beautiful Severn river as it flowed over some gravelly runs and down through some pretty amazing tree-lined swimming holes. We weren’t completely on our own though, as the station is a working cattle property. Curious cattle did come down to inspect us, and gave the smaller of our two dogs something to yap at; there also was a bit of work to do around the campsite with our indispensable shovel, ‘tidying-up’ you might say, but apart from that, all was good, and we were left to enjoy nature in peace.
Access to the riverside campsite was fairly straight-forward. We were able to cross the paddocks and ease down through the boulder-strewn banks with our 4×4 Prado towing a Marlin Escape camper-trailer, without any serious issues. These are farm tracks that are regularly used and which a normal ute should have no trouble with. We camped in January, but there had been plenty of rain and the grass was high and thick. It was delightful to see a pair of Quail flutter up before us as we drove, while a pair of Black Shouldered Kites kept watch from a nearby treetop.
The river itself literally bubbled with life. Rarely have I seen so many Dragonflies, while delicate Damselflies were also in abundance. Perhaps these were the reason that the flies, which can often be a problem on cattle properties, were really not too bad. Kingfishers and Herons patrolled the banks, while many other types of birds came down to the shallow run near where we camped, to drink. Among these were the Turquoise Parrots which are a feature of the Ashford area and which can often be seen around the hamlet of Ashford itself.
On the hottest days we spent happy hours splashing around in the rapids and swimming in the deeper pools, while in the evening we chilled out with a campfire on the gravelly river banks. Our camp kitchen lights attracted many insects and moths but also some hungry frogs who had a genuine feast!