Scenic Drives

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Wine to Caves

Kick off your trip with a visit to Kingsdale Winery and then head up north through Crookwell, Binda and the historic gold rush town of Tuena. Finish up by visiting the fascinating underground world of the Abercrombie Caves.

Kingsdale Wines

Kingsdale Wines is an award winning boutique winery producing a range of premium cool climate red and white wines. As you sit and enjoy your wine tasting experience you can enjoy beautiful views over Lake Sooley.

Pejar Dam

Pejar Dam was constructed in 1979 on the Wollondilly River system to augment Goulburn’s water supply. Nestled between rolling hills, this extensive water body has become a favourite spot for angling, bird watching, photography, kayaking and wind-surfing. There is a picnic area with car parking, shaded tables and public toilets. Interesting granite boulder rock formations can be found along the river on the western side of the Crookwell Road.

Crookwell 2 Wind Farm

Crookwell 2 Wind Farm consists of 28, 130 metre diameter wind turbines constructed by Global Power Generation. The wind farm has a 91 MW capacity and supplies power for 41,600 homes in the ACT.

Crookwell 1 Wind Farm

Crookwell 1 Wind Farm consists of 8 wind turbines and was the first grid connected wind farm in Australia when built by Pacific Power in 1998. Stop at the viewing area where the information boards will tell you more about renewable energy production.

Crookwell

Crookwell sits high atop the Great Dividing Range. A cool climate, rich basalt soils and reliable rainfall provide perfect conditions for growing seed potatoes and lovely gardens. These are celebrated with two major annual festivals, the Potato Festival in May and the Garden Festival in November. The town features many historical buildings, many dating back to the 1800s. Crookwell is also well known for its specialty shops including the famous Lindner sock factory, Arcadia, Top Paddock and Mad Hatters. With plenty of food outlets, there’s also a wide choice of places to have a meal.

Binda

Binda at first impression is a small, sleepy village, but in its heyday during the gold rush years from the 1840s to the 1880s was an important administrative and law enforcement centre. The town originated as a response to the need to control marauding bushrangers, including Thomas Whitton and “The Bathurst Mob” (1840), and Ben Hall and his associates (1860s). Binda hosts the oldest country horse racing event, the famous Binda Picnic Races, which were first held at Funny Hill Farm, Binda in 1848. Historical buildings include St James Anglican Church, Rose Cottage, the Binda Mill and Residence, and the Binda General Store.

Tuena

Tuena was once home to a thriving gold mining community in the 1850s. Although the gold rush days are long gone, Tuena Creek remains a popular gold fossicking area to this day. Parson’s General Store (established 1860) can supply panning equipment and helpful advice if you want to try your luck. They also have a small museum display and information on Tuena’s colourful history and historic buildings.

Abercrombie Caves

Abercrombie Caves are surrounded by rugged bushland and the area was used as a hideout for bushrangers Ralph Entwistle and “The Ribbon Gang” in 1830. Abercrombie Caves offers cave walks through spectacular limestone caverns, camping, bushwalking, fishing, swimming, birdwatching, photography and fossicking for gold, garnets, zircons and sapphires.

Explorers and Bushrangers

Hamilton Hume famously began his trek south from his property near Gunning in 1824, however he also explored extensive parts of the Goulburn Plains. Likewise, bushrangers including Ben Hall terrorized travelers along these key transport routes. Explore from Gunning to Collector and get a sense of this history.

Gunning

Your journey back to the time of the explorers and bushrangers starts in the historic village of Gunning. Explorer Hamilton Hume established a sheep property here in 1821, and soon after the area became an official settlement. In 1824 Hume and Captain William Hovell set off on their famous expedition south to what is now Melbourne. In 1840, bushrangers Thomas Whitton and his ruthless gang held up the town. Hamilton Hume’s brother, John Kennedy Hume and a group of local men faced up to the bushrangers, but John Hume was killed. You can find his grave, and those of others from this time, in the Gunning General Cemetery at the end of Wombat Street. Gunning features a whole range of interesting historical buildings and sites dating from this time onwards, featured in the self-guided Heritage Walk of Gunning.

Fish River

After exploring Gunning’s rich history, and maybe enjoying refreshments in one of the delightful cafés, it is time to head east out of town on the Cullerin Road. Around 5 km out of Gunning you will find a commemorative memorial erected in 1924, marking the start of Hume and Hovell’s expedition in 1824. The road from here takes you over the Cullerin Range to Breadalane, intertwining with the Main Southern Railway line, through breathtaking and picturesque scenery. Driving distance is around 23 km and it will take you approximately 25 minutes.

Breadalbane

Breadalbane is a tranquil little village these days, but back in the 1860’s it was one of the haunts of notorious bushranger Ben Hall and his gang. As you come into Breadalbane, turn left at the Mutmutbilly Road and you will find Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church (which was constructed in 1865). The cemetery is the resting place of one of Ben Hall’s associates, Tom Byrne, who was buried here in 1888.

Collector

From Breadalbane, take the Breadalbane to Collector road, heading south. The drive to Collector is around 20 km through more exquisite countryside and takes around 25 minutes. Like Gunning, Collector dates back to the 1820s. The village features many historical buildings and is also famous for bushranger history. Ben Hall and his comrades John Dunn and John Gilbert held up the town in 1865. They were confronted by the town’s Constable Sam Nelson, who bravely faced the gang armed only with a single shot, muzzle loading carbine. John Dunn shot the constable in the chest with a shotgun, then callously finished him off with a revolver shot to the face. Constable Nelson’s memorial stands by the heritage listed Bushranger Hotel.

The Tablelands Way

Welcome to Macarthur country. With stunning views of the Blue Mountains this scenic drive takes you from Goulburn, Australia’s first inland city, all the way to Bummaroo Ford on the Abercrombie River, an ideal picnic spot.

 

Tarlo River Country

As you head out of Goulburn on the Taralga Road you will drive through some of the prettiest scenery the Southern Tablelands have to offer. Enjoy a leisurely cruise though gently undulating hills with lush green paddocks interspersed with extensive stands of natural bushland. Taralga sits at an elevation of around 830 m and you will notice the countryside becoming greener and lusher as your drive takes you up into the high country. Keep an eye out for possible local wildlife along the way!

Taralga

Located just 45 km north of Goulburn on the Tablelands Way, the historic village of Taralga is famous for its many beautiful stone buildings including the heritage listed Catholic Church of Christ the King. The village was originally planned for workers on the Macarthur estate, “Richlands”, and dates back to the 1820s. Taralga has a very active historical society who run the Taralga Historical Museum, in the former Wesleyan Methodist Church and its grounds. Here you can see a Nissen hut, old school house, settler’s cottage, slab dairy and other fascinating historical buildings and artefacts. If you feel like a break from driving, there are no less than 42 “places of interest” listed on the Taralga visitor guide, so there’s no shortage of things to see! Check into the Taralga Visitor Information Centre when you arrive for more details. Taralga also features some great specialty gift shops. If you’re ready for a cup of tea and cake or hanging out for something more substantial there are some excellent food outlets. Enjoy brunch or lunch made from fresh local produce at one of the cafés or pubs. It’s a great place to enjoy some retail therapy and delicious country food! If you have kids with you, check out the Taralga Wildlife Park. It’s open Thursdays to Mondays, and every day during school holidays, from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm.

Bummaroo Ford

Leaving Taralga on the road to Oberon, you will soon be driving through lush countryside. As you get closer to Bummaroo Ford the country becomes more rugged and you will drive past extensive tracts of Eucalypt and forest. It’s around 30 km from Taralga and the drive will take approximately 25 minutes. Bummaroo Ford Campground is set on the Abercrombie River, surrounded by bushland teeming with wildlife. You’ll probably encounter a wallaby or two and you may even see a platypus in the river. It’s a top spot for a tranquil picnic. If you are visiting in summer, be sure to bring your swimmers and enjoy a refreshing dip. You can fish here, or bring a kayak for a paddle. A wonderful place to get away from the city hustle and bustle and get back to nature!

Sapphire & Gold Country

This region is interwoven with waterways many of which contain gold and precious gems. Whilst alluvial gold was prevalent, the area around Dalton is dotted with mine shafts chasing the elusive reefs. This drive takes you from Gunning to Tuena, across classic Southern Tablelands landscapes, with rolling hills and stunning vistas, as you explore country that brought riches so some and hardship to others during the gold rush times of the mid to late 1800s.

Gunning

The historic village of Gunning is located around 75 km from Canberra, between Goulburn and Yass. Dating back to the 1820s, Gunning has a rich and fascinating history, much of which revolved around the gold hungry bushrangers who terrorized the area.

Dalton

Around 10 km from Gunning, the sleepy little hamlet of Dalton has some surprising claims to fame. One of these is that it is located on a geologically active fault line and experiences regular earth tremors. Another is that it is home to the famous Dalton fossil leaf deposits, a sample of which can be seen in a shelter in Oolong Park. But for us the main attraction is that this area was the scene of active gold mining in the late 1800s and it has been reported that in 1879 stone crushing batteries were active 24 hours a day. Although active mining no longer occurs in the area, a visit to Dalton can give you a sense of what it was like back in the gold rush days when this was a rough frontier town.

Grabben Gullen

After visiting Dalton, its time to head back to Gunning and then on to Grabben Gullen. From Dalton the drive is around 43 km and it will take about 36 minutes. Grabben Gullen means “Small Waters” in the Wiradjuri language. There is a designated fossicking area on Grabben Gullen Creek along Sapphire Road, where you can find sapphires, zircons, garnets and flecks of gold if you’re lucky. The Albion Hotel in Grabben Gullen dates back to 1886 and has a reputation for serving great pub meals, so this might be a good spot for a lunch break, or you can head on to Crookwell which is about 15 km away.

Crookwell

Crookwell features a whole host of interesting specialty shops, including Arcadia, Top Paddock, Mad Hatters, Lindner Sock Factory, the Crookwell Visitor Information Centre and more. There are some great eateries in the town too, so it’s a great place to take a break, have some refreshments and spend some time exploring before you head off to the historic gold rush town of Tuena.

Tuena

Located in a sheltered valley around 60 north of Crookwell on the Bathurst Road, Tuena offers camping, fishing, bushwalking and gold fossicking. Gold was first discovered here in 1851 and the town experienced a massive gold rush soon after. Call into Parson’s General store to see a fascinating array of relics from the gold rush era, purchase refreshments and get information on gold fossicking in the area. Try your luck panning in Tuena Creek and you may find some gold!

River to River

Boasting stunning views of the Southern Tablelands rolling hills, this journey spans the Sydney Water Catchment from Crookwell to Wollondilly River Country.

 

Crookwell

At close to a thousand metres above sea level, Crookwell has a cool climate and high rainfall, creating lush green landscapes and beautiful gardens. The town boasts a range of specialty shops and it’s a great place to look for gifts or collectibles. Be sure to call in to the Crookwell Visitor Information Centre for an update on things to see and do while you are in the area, before heading out of town to Laggan.

Laggan

The drive from Crookwell to Laggan will take around 10 to 15 minutes, through pretty, picturesque rural countryside. Laggan is home to the famous Laggan Markets, which run on the third Saturday of each month. If you book ahead, Laggan Pantry offers superb meals and you can try some of the amazing beers produced in their craft brewery. Laggan Hotel offers great pub meals and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

Crystal Brook Gardens & Lavender Farm

From Laggan take the Taralga road and you’ll soon be driving through spectacular hill country, with stunning views to the far horizon. Around 10 km out of Laggan, turn left at Tyrl Tyrl road and head down to Crystal Brook Gardens & Lavender Farm. Peak lavender season is December and January, but the property features a range of gardens and has something interesting to see at any time of year.

Taralga

After visiting the lavender farm, head back to the Taralga Road, turn left and drive through more stunning countryside. It will take around 20 minutes to reach Taralga, which features many wonderful historic stone buildings, the Taralga Historical Museum, specialty shops, cafés and two excellent pubs.

Taralga Wildlife Park

From Taralga you will need to find Bunnaby Street and then head out of town on the Bannaby Road, taking you past the spectacular, State Heritage listed Christ the King Catholic Church and the Taralga Showground. The Taralga Wildlife Park is 2 km past the Showground and is open from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m., Thursday to Monday (every day during school holidays). You’ll be able to see an amazing collection of unusual fauna and the petting zoo is always a big hit with the kids!

Bannaby

From the Wildlife Park, keep heading out along the Bannaby Road to experience some truly awesome countryside. As you head to Bannaby through rolling hills and Eucalypt forests, the stunning views over the surrounding landscape just keep getting better and you can really appreciate the concept of “wide open spaces”! When you get to Bannaby, be sure to have a look at historic St Matthews Anglican Church, which was built in 1898.

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