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Coleambally in New South Wales
Coleambally is keen to welcome grey nomads

Much of the joy in travelling along inland roads such as the Kidman Way in New South Wales is in ‘stumbling across’ unique communities.

While most grey nomads instinctively imagine historic towns with corrugated iron buildings, windmills, and tiny museums that trace back more than a century of pioneering adventure, age is not always an indicator of interest.

For example, the tiny Riverina town of Coleambally ‘opened’ in 1968 making it the newest town in New South Wales, but it still has much to offer grey nomads. Unfortunately, as the highway doesn’t actually go through the township, many travellers miss the opportunity to turn off and explore.

The community was established as the administrative, commercial and social centre of the 87,600-hectare Coleambally Irrigation Area, which was created in the 1950s. Rice is the principal crop grown in surrounding farms, although wheat, barley, corn, canola, soybeans, and olives are also in evidence. A huge rice mill opened in the town in 1969, and tours can be arranged.

Situated 65 kilometres south of Griffith in the middle of a pine forest, there are numerous walking tracks through natural bushland near Coleambally. The birdlife here is prolific, with more than 80 different birds sighted. Among them are the superb parrot, brolgas, and noisy minors.

All the streets in Coleambally – which has a population of around 600 – are named after birds. For example, the modern shopping centre, which also houses an art gallery, is located in Brolga Place, as is the Murrumbidgee Shire Office where visitors can study a pictorial history of the town.

However, it is the distinctive wine glass-shaped water tower which first catches the eye. The 80,000-tile mosaic which decorates the structure depicts the story of Coleambally.

At the Lions Park, there is a very visible reminder of the town’s reason for existence. A giant Bucyrus class Erie Dragliner which was used to excavate the main irrigation channels in the Murray Valley and the Coleambally Irrigation Area sits there. It is one of four machines imported from the United States in 1935 and is still in working order.

For more understanding of the sheer scale of the irrigation work carried out in the area, it’s well worth a visit to the gigantic Gogeldrie Weir structure on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. It’s a great place to picnic and to camp, but there are fees involved.

Like many small rural towns, Coleambally is extremely friendly and is also highly appreciative of the benefits that travelling grey nomads bring. As well as a warm welcome, the Brolga Hotel Motel offers free parking to all grey nomads wanting to stop for a while. The town’s golf club is currently encouraging more travellers to have a swing at its lush 18-hole course, and is reminding people there is also free unpowered camping available for self-contained rigs in the township.

The pet-friendly Coleambally Caravan Park is also a good camping option for travellers, and offers shady powered sites in a natural setting for $25, and unpowered for $18.

Coleambally. It’s a new’un but a good’un!

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