Gunnedah

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Gunnedah for grey nomads
Dorothea MacKellar is commemorated in Gunnedah Pic: Destination NSW

Sitting on the junction of the Kamilaroi and Oxley Highways, the attractive rural town of Gunnedah is a natural stopping off point for grey nomads exploring the wheatbelt of northern New South Wales.

However, the settlement of 10,000 or so – which is situated on a sloping ridge above the Namoi and Mooki Rivers – has a lot more going for it than simple convenience. It was the sheer natural beauty of the local landscape that inspired Dorothea MacKellar to write her best-known work, ‘My Country’.

And like the iconic poet, today’s caravanners and motorhomers love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains. This is rich agricultural land and the livestock selling centre here is one of the biggest in the state.

Visitors are welcome to absorb the bustling atmosphere at the sale yards when the auctions kick off every Tuesday. While beef, wool and wheat have helped shaped Gunnedah, so too has coal and coalmining. A real country welcome awaits visitors, along with a great range of services, cafes, restaurants and shops.  Gunnedah’s Cultural Precinct is the heart of it all and incorporates the heritage-listed Town Hall, cinema, theatre, art gallery, and Visitor Information Centre.

The Gunnedah Tourist Caravan Park offers a quiet spot for grey nomads to park up for a night or two, and there’s also a 72-hours-only RV Camping area on South Street. There’s a free camping area at the Red Bank Rest Area, about 10 kilometres east of town. Another popular place for grey nomads to camp is at Lake Keepit State Park, about 40 kilometres away towards Tamworth.

For hikers, the 22-kilometre Bindea Walking Track – which can be subdivided into a series of shorter loops – is an excellent way to get your bearings. There are also a couple of great lookouts in the area to give visitors a greater understanding of why this country so inspired Dorothea MacKellar.

Porcupine Lookout is two kilometres from town, off Apex Road. To the north, it offers views to the Nandewar Ranges, over 100 kilometres away, and to the south are panoramic views of the agricultural land of the Breeza and Pullaming plains. There are amazing views also from Pensioners Hill Lookout, which was actually the site of a shanty town during the great depression. There are a number of rock sculptures here depicting people and characters from Gunnedah’s history.

Elsewhere, there is a life-sized bronze statue in Anzac Park memorialising Dorothea MacKellar, who spent time here between 1905 and the late 1930s. Another famous former resident of the area, the bushranger Ben Hall, is remembered on a mural wall at a rest area in Breeza, just off the Kamilaroi Highway. If all of that wasn’t enough, the Gunnedah area is also home to the largest koala colony west of the Great Dividing Range in New South Wales … and they are regularly spotted in town.

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