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Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales

  • February 28, 2022
  • By 50 Shades
  • 0 Comments
Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales

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.

Where is the Newell Highway

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Somewhere on the Newell Highway

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Sunset somewhere along the Newell Highway

Goondiwindi, Queensland

Claim to fame

Located at the junction of six highways in South East Queensland.

Top Five Things To Do in Goondiwindi

  1. Goondiwindi Cotton Tour
  2. Victoria Hotel Beer & Bullshit Tour
  3. Customs House Museum
  4. River Walk
  5. Gunsynd “Goondiwindi Grey” statue

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.

Touring the Newell Highway in New South Wales
Gunsynd statue

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Goondiwindi Sign

Moree

Distance

From Goondiwindi to Moree 147 kilometres

Claim to fame

Moree Artesian Pools that were discovered by accident in 1895.

Top Five Things To Do in Moree

  1. Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre hot pools
  2. Guided Moree Heritage and Art Deco Walking Tour
  3. Guided Agricultural Tours
  4. Experience the Arts
  5. Parklands on the Mehi River

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Beautiful art deco architecture in Moree

Narrabri

Distance

From Moree to Narrabri 116 kilometres

Claim to fame

Sportiest town in Australia

Top Five Things To Do in Narrabri

  1. Mt Kaputar National Park and Sawn Rocks
  2. Pilliga Bore Baths
  3. CSIRO Australia Telescope Compact Array
  4. Yarrie Lake
  5. Narrabri Fish Farm

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Sawn Rocks in Mt Kaputar National Park

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Sporting Hall of Fame in Narrabri

Coonabarabran

Distance

From Narrabri to Coonabarabran 127 kilometres

Claim to fame

Astronomy Capital of Australia

Top Five Things To Do in Coonabarabran

  1. Warrumbungle National Park
  2. Siding Spring Observatory
  3. Pilliga Forest
  4. Explore night skies
  5. Crystal Kingdom and Pilliga Pottery

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Siding Spring Observatory

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Clock Tower in Coonabarabran

Gilgandra

Distance

From Coonabarabran to Gilgandra 95 kilometres

Claim to fame

The Town of Windmills.

Top Five Things To Do in Gilgandra

  1. Windmill Walk
  2. Street Murals
  3. History, Art and Culture
  4. Warrumbungle National Park, Flora Reserve and Breelong National Park
  5. Gilgandra Speedway

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Castlereagh River in Gilgandra

Dubbo

Distance

From Gilgandra to Dubbo 65 kilometres

Claim to fame

Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Top Five Things To Do in Dubbo

  1. Taronga Western Plains Zoo
  2. Wellington Caves
  3. Old Dubbo Gaol
  4. Lake Burrendong and Arboretum
  5. Western Plains Cultural Centre

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
The railway bridge across the Macquarie River

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. 

The Newell Highway of New South Wales
The Old Dubbo Gaol

Parkes

Distance

From Dubbo to Parkes 120 kilometres

Claim to fame

Parkes Observatory

Top Five Things To Do in Parkes

  1. The Dish
  2. Henry Parkes Centre
  3. Peak Hill Goldmine
  4. Public Art Trail and Statues
  5. Memorial Hill and Peace Precinct

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Steam Train in Parkes Parklands

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
The “Dish” at Parkes Observatory

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
The old goldmine at Peak Hill

Forbes

Distance

From Parkes to Forbes is only 33 kilometres

Claim to Fame

Connection with the Bushranger Ben Hall

Top Five Things To Do in Forbes

  1. Lake Forbes
  2. Heritage Trail and Historic Buildings Walk
  3. Somewhere Down the Lachlan Sculpture Trail
  4. Ben Hall’s grave at Forbes Cemetery
  5. McFeeters Motor Museum

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Lake Forbes bridge

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Forbes Visitor Centre and Ben Hall Statue

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Goanna Sculpture on the Lachlan River

West Wyalong

Distance

From Forbes to West Wyalong 105 kilometres

Claim to Fame

Gold mining heritage

Top Five Things To Do in West Wyalong

  1. Wyalong Museum
  2. Lake Cowal
  3. Exclusive Hot Glass Gallery
  4. True Blue Mining Poppet Head
  5. Wetlands Boardwalk and Green Corridor Walk

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Thoms Corner in West Wyalong

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Wetlands Boardwalk in West Wyalong

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).

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Silo Art in Weethalle Image Credit: Visit NSW

Narrandera

Distance

From West Wyalong to Narrandera 131 kilometres

Claim to fame

Murrumbidgee River

Top Five Things To Do in Narrandera

  1. Narrandera Flora and Fauna Reserve for Koala spotting
  2. Lake Talbot Swimming Complex
  3. Barellan Clydesdale and Heavy Horses Weekend
  4. Grong Grong Earth Park
  5. Narrandera’s Heritage Buildings

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Town Clock and pretty trees in Narrandera

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Fountain in Narrandera Park

Jerilderie

Distance

From Narrandera to Jerilderie 116 kilometres

Claim to fame

Ned Kelly Gang hostage saga

Top Five Things To Do in Jerilderie

  1. Ned Kelly Raid Trail
  2. Lake Jerilderie and Horgan Walk
  3. Steel Wings Windmill
  4. Jerilderie Miniature Steam Railway Track
  5. Jerilderie Historic Buildings
Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
The man-made lake in Jerilderie

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
The Jerilderie Bank that Ned Kelly robbed

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
The Jerilderie Journal building

Tocumwal

Distance

From Jerilderie to Tocumwal 57 kilometres

Claim to fame

Historic aerodrome

Top Five Things To Do in Tocumwal

  1. Camp on the Murray River and enjoy fishing, bushwalking, boating and water sports
  2. Tocumwal Heritage Railway Museums and Chrysties Museum
  3. Round of Golf at the Golf Course
  4. Street art depicting Tocumwal’s history
  5. Tocumwal Aviation Museum
Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
One of the murals in town

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Our riverfront camping site at Tocumwal

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.

Touring Along the Newell Highway of New South Wales
Tea Rooms and Gift Shop in Tocumwal

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.

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By 50 Shades, February 28, 2022 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.

50 Shades

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.

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