Spread the love
There are many epic road trips to be had in my country of Australia. Historically we have traced the amazing coastlines of Australia, but we have since discovered that the inland trails are just as remarkable. Our recent caravan trip took us touring along the Newell Highway of New South Wales. What we found were a range of diverse and interesting towns and simply stunning countryside in some regions.
The Newell Highway extends from Goondiwindi on the border of New South Wales and Queensland, to Tocumwal on the Murray River. The highway then terminates in Shepparton in northern Victoria. Its claim to fame is that it is the longest highway in New South Wales with a distance of 1058 kilometres. It is also the most direct route between South East Queensland and Southern New South Wales. Hence it is heavily used as a freight route.
The landscape along the Newell Highway is ever-changing. As it is located west of the Great Dividing Range it is largely flat with some steeper terrain passing through the Warrumbungle Range. Due to the fact that the outback regions have experienced high rainfall during the past few months, we found the countryside to be green and lush.
The Newell passes over several rivers, including the Macquarie, Lachlan, Murrumbidgee and the mighty Murray River. There are many low-lying areas adjoining the highway that become huge floodplains during high rainfall and the road is prone to flooding.
Agriculture is the lifeblood of many Newell towns, so you will see plenty of farming land along the route and friendly little country towns. We saw hectares of flat plains growing wheat, barley, hay and canola and a mixture of livestock including sheep and cattle.
Located at the junction of six highways in South East Queensland.
Statue of the “Goondiwindi Grey” Gunsynd, one of the most popular race horses in Australia. His statue stands proudly along the riverfront in the town of Goondiwindi.
Goondiwindi is located on border between New South Wales and Queensland on the Macintyre River. Its location at the junction of five major highways makes it a very popular stop-over destination.
There is a pretty 4 kilometre walkway along the tree-lined Macintyre river featuring interpretive signs. You can also discover the original historic Border Bridge connecting NSW and Queensland, and the charming Customs House and Museum.
From Goondiwindi to Moree 147 kilometres
Moree Artesian Pools that were discovered by accident in 1895.
The town of Moree features the splendour of the bygone Art Deco era, as evidenced through its architecture and the many art deco buildings in the town. You can take a heritage walk through the town or take a refreshing dip in the mineral-laden Artesian waters of their pools.
From Moree to Narrabri 116 kilometres
Sportiest town in Australia
We discovered the town of Narrabri was renowned as “Australia’s sportiest town”. The Sporting Wall of Fame in the centre of town honours the achievements of sportspeople who contributed to this claim to fame.
Narrabri is the gateway to Mt Kaputar National Park, 52 kilometres east of town, where you can bushwalk or rock climb. There is also the awesome sight of the almighty wall of organ pipes at Sawn Rocks within the national park.
In keeping with the astronomy theme of the region, the CSIRO Australia Telescope is located a few kilometres west of Narrabri.
From Narrabri to Coonabarabran 127 kilometres
Astronomy Capital of Australia
Coonabarabran is the Astronomy Capital of Australia and hosts Australia’s largest optical astronomy research facility at Siding Spring Observatory. But there are more observatories at Milroy Observatory, Warrumbungle Observatory and at Coona Astro Ventures.
Coonabarabrin is the gateway to the amazing Warrumbungle Range. The Warrumbungle National Park is Australia’s only Dark Sky Park, renowned for its crystal clear starry skies, perfect for star-gazing. The dramatic rocky spires, domes, forested ridges and deep gorges in the national park are also extremely popular for bushwalking and camping.
From Coonabarabran to Gilgandra 95 kilometres
The Town of Windmills.
The agricultural town of Gilgandra is located on the Castlereagh River, where we enjoyed lunch in the park on the banks of the river. This country town in the central west region of New South Wales, services the surrounding wheat growing area, together with other cereal crops, and sheep and cattle.
From Gilgandra to Dubbo 65 kilometres
Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Dubbo is a city located almost 400 kilometres north-west of Sydney at the junction of the Newell, Golden and Mitchell Highways. It sits upon the Macquarie River and is a regional hub for the surrounding wheat and wool producers.
The city centre has a number of historical places of interest, including the old Dubbo Gaol, that are best experienced by doing the Dubbo City Heritage Walk.
The incredible Taronga Western Plains Zoo located just outside of Dubbo is and open-range zoo that specialises in large animals. There are more than 4,000 native and exotic animals from over 350 species dispersed over 300 ha of landscaped parklands. These can be observed from raised earthen viewing areas that separate the public with a ditch or moat with a small unobtrusive electric fence.
From Dubbo to Parkes 120 kilometres
One of my favourite towns along the Newell Highway was Parkes. This gorgeous place not only has the magnificent “Dish”, but it has pretty parklands with a duck pond and an old steam train exhibit. It also hosts the infamous Parkes Elvis Festival in April of each year.
The Parkes Observatory, CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope or “Dish”, helped broadcast the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing and is a must-see. It is located around 30 kilometres north of Parkes.
The open cut goldmine at Peak Hill, located between Dubbo and Parkes is worthwhile checking out. There is a walking track with viewing platforms and interpretive signage around the rim of the mine.
From Parkes to Forbes is only 33 kilometres
Connection with the Bushranger Ben Hall
Another picturesque town along the Newell Highway is Forbes. It features a fascinating sculpture trail along the Lachlan River and pretty parklands fringing Lake Forbes, a natural lagoon on the Lachlan River.
Our first stop was to visit the Forbes Visitor Information Centre, which in itself is a remarkable building. We took in the impressive statue of Ben Hall the Bushranger, whose resting place is in the Forbes Cemetery.
But the most interesting thing to do in Forbes is to follow the Somewhere Down the Lachlan Sculpture Trail. Some are located in Albion Park and around the town, but the majority are nestled among nature along the Lachlan River.
From Forbes to West Wyalong 105 kilometres
Gold mining heritage
West Wyalong really does look like a town from the “Wild West” with its crooked main street and old buildings. Although it was formerly a gold rush town up until the 1920s, it is now majorly a hub serving the vast agricultural lands in the surrounding area.
The corner shop called “Thom, Dick & Harry’s”, a homewares, gourmet grocer and cafe, intrigued me, as did the Aboriginal Artefact Shop in Main Street. Also a stroll along the Wetlands Boardwalk was pleasurable.
If time permits I would highly recommend some day trips to surrounding country towns of Barmedman (Mineral Swimming Pool), Tallimba, Naradhan (historic woolshed), Ungarie (Big Sherrin Football), Mirrool, Kikiora and Weethalle (silo art).
From West Wyalong to Narrandera 131 kilometres
A lovely little town for a rest stop, Narrandera is located in the heart of the Riverina on the Murrumbidgee River. It exudes charm, warmth and country hospitality.
Naturally with the Murrumbidgee River on its doorstep, the most popular things to do in town are fishing, boating, paddling and swimming. There are plenty of places to explore nature, walk or ride a bike along the river, Marie Bashir Park or into Narrandera Wetlands.
From Narrandera to Jerilderie 116 kilometres
Ned Kelly Gang hostage saga
With such an astonishing claim to fame, I discovered the town of Jerilderie to be absolutely fascinating. This pretty little Riverina town boasts a man-made lake surrounded by shady trees and green parklands. It was a welcome lunch stop on our trip down the Newell.
We grabbed a brochure from the Sticky Fingers Candy Shop and set off on the Ned Kelly Raid Trail that took us to 16 different sites. The story goes that Ned Kelly and his gang held up the bank, locked the police in cells, chopped down telegraph poles and took 30 hostages over three days. During this time he composed the infamous “Jerilderie Letter” where he pleaded for justice.
From Jerilderie to Tocumwal 57 kilometres
The end of our journey and the place for us to rest and repose on the mighty Murray River for three days, was in the town of Tocumwal. I think the best thing about this town is that you can camp right on the sandy riverbanks of the Murray River for around $10 a night. It was certainly welcome since the temperature was in the mid 30s, so we were able to cool off in the river.
What I enjoyed the most (apart from swimming), was walking along the shady banks of the river through the river gums and seeing a variety of birdlife. The town itself is interesting with a number of murals depicting the town’s history. Many of the buildings are heritage-listed. There are also plenty of interesting shops, a couple of pubs and a variety of cafes for a leisurely coffee or bite to eat.
In a way we left the best to last. Tocumwal was an incredibly interesting place and we welcomed the cooling waters of the Murray River. I think the Newell Highway is one journey that everyone should experience. It gives one a great insight into our vast agricultural industry, the small but friendly country towns, gold mines of yesteryear and the wonders of astronomy.
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.