Grenfell

grenfell for grey nomads

It will always be known first and foremost as the birthplace of legendary bush poet Henry Lawson, but the New South Wales town of Grenfell offers grey nomads plenty of other compelling reasons to visit.

As an old goldrush town, it boasts a fascinating history filled with fascinating characters including notorious bushranger Ben Hall; it’s got some superb historic buildings including the fully-restored heritage-listed railway station; and it’s got some superb national parks on its doorstep which include some excellent camping options.

Oh, and it’s a town that loves grey nomads.

It all began back in 1866 when Cornelius O’Brien discovered a gold-bearing quartz outcrop in the area, sparking a huge influx of miners who set up camp along the banks of Emu Creek. The fledgling community was actually originally known as Emu Creek but was re-named in 1867 after Gold Commissioner, John Granville Grenfell, who was shot and killed by bushrangers.

It was in these wild times and among these wild characters that a Norwegian migrant Niels Hertzberg Larsen arrived with his wife, Louisa. When their son was born on the goldfields, the couple named him Henry … and he grew up to be a literary legend.

Grenfell celebrates its most famous son every June long weekend when it hosts – Covid willing – the Henry Lawson Festival. There is also a large white obelisk in a local sports field which apparently marks the spot where the Larsens – later to become the Lawsons – first set up their tent.

The historic heart of Grenfell is packed with impressive old buildings, including the brick Court House built in 1873, the old School of Arts building which now houses the local museum, the Railway Hotel, the old Salvation Army Citadel, and Oddfellows Hall.

The pièce de resistance though is the old railway station which was built in 1901, and Issue 244: March 19, 2021 Lawsons learned which fell into disrepair after its closure to passengers in 1974. Happily though, the local Lions Club eventually stepped into to save – and then – restore the old building, as well as bringing in some train carriages to add interest.

Grey nomads seeking to check out the station will be delighted to know that this is also a spot where they are free to park up for the night, and there are even toilets, a shower and a dump point!

For those seeking to stay a little longer, the council-owned Grenfell Caravan Park which has capacity for 22 vans is a good option.

The Weddin Mountains National Park, which is about 20 kilometres west of town also offers camping at Ben Halls campsite and the more basic Holy Camp. Bushranger Ben Hall reputedly arrived in the area as a 12-year-old and eventually bought a station in the Weddin Mountains. He was shot dead by police in 1865 when he was 27. His former home though was burned down by police.

Weddin Mountains National Park itself consists of a small rocky range of mountains with beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife, and some great bushwalks.

Another national park in the area is the much smaller Conimbla National Park, which is about 40 kilometres north-east of Grenfell and is particularly popular with birdwatchers.

Also, just a short drive from Grenfell are the historic and attractive villages of Greenethorpe, Caragabal, Quandialla, and Bimbi … all of which are fascinating in their own right.

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