Outback Road Trips

Barraba to Dunedoo

Sunday 16 May 2021: Barraba to Gunnedah 130 km

Manilla

Manilla (Winding River) is another lovely historical small town. It must have been important at some stage as it has 4 pubs, two of which are still open, instead of the three hotels normally found in outback towns.

Imperial Hotel Hotel, established in 1900
Bank of New South Wales building, now Westpac, opened 1911
Manilla Railway Bridge and Viaduct was completed in 1906
Only three spans will remain after the Transport NSW proposed demolishment, locals are not happy

Gunnedah

Gunnedah is a medium-sized town in the agricultural region that inspired Dorothea Mackellar’s poem, My Country. It is known as the koala capital of the world, but we couldn’t find any.

Poet Dorothea Mackellar on the 38 meter high Gunnedah Silos – Artist: Heesco (2020)
“I love a sunburnt country/A land of sweeping plains/Of ragged mountain ranges …”
Eastern Rosella beside our camp at the Gunnedah Showgrounds

Monday 17 May 2021: Gunnedah to Murrurundi 125 km

1912 Commercial Hotel Curlewis about 15 km south of Gunnedah
Stock brand tiles of early sheep and cattle runs on the Liverpool Plains in the footpath of Quirindi
Quirindi is a medium sized town 83 km south of Gunnedah that has little changed since the 1900s

Murrurundi

Murrurundi and its rural heritage have been well preserved with the main street being declared an urban conservation area.

The railway station built in 1872 and there’s still daily services to and from Sydney
Top – National Trust listed White Hart Hotel erected in 1842 and enlarged in 1857
Bottom – Railway Hotel, established in 1880 and was rebuilt in the 1920’s after a fire
The town’s wooden suspension bridge was built before World War I
The Police Station and Court House, handsome sandstone structure from 1840
We spent the night in our van behind the Royal Hotel which was built in 1863
It was freezing cold during the night

Tuesday 18 May 2021: Murrurundi to Cassilis 195 km

From Murrurundi we went along the New England Highway via Scone to Muswelbrook and then on the Golden Highway via Denman and Merriwa to see their silo art. Stopping to pick up local apple cider, cheeses, olive oils and wine from farms on the way filled in the day nicely.

Burning Mountain

Burning Mountain, 20 km south of Murrurundi is a rare phenomenon – a coal seam, buried 30 metres underground, which has been burning for over 5,000 years. It was a pleasant climb of 4 km (return) through bushland which became increasingly bare the closer the we got to the smoking vent; the smell of burning coal obvious a kilometer away.

Kangaroos playing on the side of Burning Mountain
Smoke from the coal that has been burning 30 meters below Burning Mountain for over 5,000 years

Scone

It was the 40th Scone Horse Festival week
The parade was cancelled, instead all the shops were given identical horse cutouts to decorate

Denman

Pukara Olive Estate – Olive oil from the press – Olive oils for tasting
We bought a bottle of the new, unfiltered oil and a bottle of caramelized balsamic vinegar
Around 1860 the postmaster built his house in the English style, it’s now the Royal Hotel
Two Rivers Winery in the Upper Hunter – we got the Verdelho

Merriwa

Merriwa Silos depict a sheep wearing red socks in a canola field – Artist: David Lee Pereira (2019)

Every year on the June long weekend is the Merriwa Festival of the Fleece, a special parade event is held called the ‘Running of the Sheep’.

“One of the sponsors couldn’t give us money so they gave us red socks and the committee back then said well what are we going to do with the socks?”

“Then someone said well how about we put them on the sheep and that’s how it all started.”

So the sheep now wear red socks as they run down the street.”

Cassilis

Royal Hotel Cassilis, built of sandstone in 1869
Anglican Church of St Columba of Iona, built of sandstone in 1899, near the Cassilis Bowling Club

Wednesday 19 May 2021: Cassilis to Mudgee 195 km

The Drip Gorge & Rock Art- Hands On Rock

The Drip Gorge, about 30km south-west of Cassilis, is a significant place for the local Wiradjuri People. From the parking lot a wonderful 1.4km walk beside the Goulburn River brings you to The Drip, or “Great Dripping Wall” with rain water trickling through the porous rock wall.

The Drip
Nearby “Hands on the Rock” rock art site has over 100 stencils of hands, emu feet and other motifs
Traditionally this was a place for only women and children
Two Brothers – an interesting rock formation that looks like two men

Dunedoo

Hotel Dunedoo, built 1914
Dunedoo, pop 747, has 4 pie shops! One called Dinky Di Dogs Eyes (Real Pies in Aussie slang)

Dunedoo obtained a State Government Grant of $95,000 at the end of 2019 to have the silos painted. The eastern side shows local jockey Hugh Bowman with champion racehorse Winx and trainer Chris Waller. The southern side the silo depicts Dunedoo local rural landscape including Black Swans (Dunedoo means Black Swan in the local Wiradjuri language).

Dunedoo Silos – Artist: Peter Mortimore (2020)