Crazy Rock aka Cranky Rock
Leaving Bendigo mid June 2014, we journeyed through Dubbo which is located in Wiradjuri country. Dubbo has the largest population centre in the Orana Region of NSW growing from a village in 1849 to the thriving regional city it is today. It has a few attractions such as the Old Dubbo Gaol, Dundullimal Homestead which is Australia's Oldest Timberslab and the Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
Next on the route was Gunnedah, the hub of one of Australia's richest agricultural regions - the Liverpool Plains in North West NSW. The Kamilaroi Highway running from Willow Tree just south of Tamworth to the back of Bourke connecting the Great Divide to the Great Outback is worth driving. One of Gunnedah’s most famous residents is Miranda Kerr. From Gunnedah we drove to see Lake Keepit which is situated on the banks of Keepit Dam. The dam at capacity holds around 425,510 megalitres of water (about two thirds the size of Sydney Harbour) but unfortunately was only 17% full at that time. Make sure you bring along the fishing rods as you can catch Silver and Golden Perch, Murray Cod and even Catfish here.
Our next destination was Manilla which was famous as a fishing town deriving its name from the Gamilaraay language meaning winding river. In recent years however, Manilla has become famous throughout the world as a major sports flying centre supporting hang gliding, paragliding, ultralight aircraft, gyrocopters and gliders. It boasts of Mt Borah, one of the world’s best paraglider and hang glider launch sites. The TV documentary Miracle in the Storm which won an AFI award was based on the dramatic survival of paraglider pilot Ewa Wisnierska of Germany who was sucked up into a thunderstorm to 9946m a week before the 10th FAI Paragliding World Championships in 2007.
From Manilla we drove to the lovely town of Warialda, set on the north-west slopes of the Great Dividing Range about 80 kms east of Moree. Allan Cunningham came through this area in 1827, before pioneering on to Brisbane, hence the name of the Cunningham Highway. Warialda is an Aboriginal name meaning place of wild honey. Warialda is one of the major towns of the Gwydir Shire and located on the tributary of the Gwydir River. The Ceramic Break Sculpture Park, brainchild of bronze sculptor Kerry Cannon is a must see. There are some very old buildings such as the Warialda Convent, and the Warialda Court House commissioned in 1883.
The biggest tourist attraction is “Cranky Rock” east of the town on the Gwydir Highway. The rock formation makes you wonder at the huge eruption that must have taken place, millions of years ago. The story goes that about 1830, a Chinese fellow murdered a white lady. He was chased by the Police along Reedy Creek and jumped to his death from the rock into the creek. It was named Cranky Rock because the locals thought he was “cranky”. There are walks around the rocks. There is also a camping ground, but unfortunately the shower is situated in the open and is cold water. There is a kiosk there as well, also some lovely birds, kangaroos & emus are also seen occasionally. A swing bridge is across the creek, from the camping ground to the rocks.
Warialda hosts the annual Honey Festival that celebrates the town’s heritage with stalls selling local produce, such as beeswax candles, jewellery, local arts and crafts, garden products, food and conserves. There is always a major attraction at each Honey Festival, which in past years has included Helicopter Rides, Reptile Park & Vintage Cars.
There is a bridge over the Warialda Creek named the ‘Richard Bligh Bridge’ named after the explorer Bligh. The Presbyterian Church & Manse is built of sandstone blocks, with markings by the convicts. There was a Police Barracks originally in town for the convicts.
It was anticipated that Warialda would be the largest town, but unfortunately Tamworth out grew them. There is a 9 hole golf course, which also serves meals, a caravan park, & Roses Cafe serves very nice food too.
We then traversed through the Great Dividing Range to Stanthorpe in the Granite Belt Country. Stanthorpe was founded by tin miners and the word literally means 'tintown'. There are many things to do in Stanthorpe apart from visiting the 40 odd wineries, vineyards and breweries, the Granite Arch Walk, nature walks and birdlife.
From there it was a short distance to Boonah, the heart of the Scenic Rim situated within Australia’s Green Cauldron including the historic villages of Kalbar, Aratula, Roadvale, Harrisville and mountains like Mt Edwards, Mt Alford, Mt French, Mt Greville and Mt Barney. You can visit the famous Moogerah Dam or take a stroll down Boonah’s streets for a taste of the local produce or a sip at the pub.
That ended our SE Qld trip and we were off to Cairns with a quick detour to The Motorhome Conversion Co to visit John and his staff.
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