2019 - 7 Days: Discover Coonabarabran

*Sunday Departures - 2019

Coonabarabran is located at the junction of the Newell and Oxley Highways, midway between Melbourne and Brisbane. The town is on the banks of the Castlereagh River and is nestled in the foothills of the Warrumbungles, one of the most accessible national parks in New South Wales. The Warrumbungle National Park has become known as the astronomy capital of Australia and is known as the first dark sky park in Australia, because the night sky is free of artificial light. Our tour is staying at the delightful Matthew Flinders Motor Inn where we will be warmly welcomed and made to feel like we are staying with friends….

Coonabarabran, New South Wales

Coonabarabran, New South Wales

Day 1 (D): To Coonabarabran (Sunday)

We are off to “Coona”– on the divide between the Central West and the North West Slopes regions of New South Wales. Coonabarabran – it’s a strange name but a great country town. It will be fun getting there as we tour north from Melbourne with an overnight stop at Narrandera. Narrandera is located on the banks of Lake Talbot and the Murrumbidgee River and was founded in the 1860s as one of the earliest settlements in the region. It was also the gateway to the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (M.I.A.). With several stops along the way we plan to arrive at our motel at around 4pm. (Meal Inclusions: Welcome dinner in the motel)

Club Inn Narrandera (subject to availability) – 1 night

Day 2 (BLD): Narrandera to Coonabarabran (Monday)

We follow the Newell Highway today passing through West Wyalong and onto Forbes – known for its connections with the bushranger Ben Hall. We make a stop at the Forbes Railway Arts and Tourist Centre which is located at the Forbes Railway Station. The old Albion Hotel was built when the town was first founded in 1861. It was partially destroyed by fire and rebuilt from 1888-93. Cobb and Co. used the hotel as a changing station and booking office from 1863. Agents used a lookout tower, sounding a bugle at the approach of coaches, whereupon a fresh team was made ready for a quick changeover. 

Lunch today is at the Forbes Memorial Club before our afternoon touring takes us through to Dubbo and onto Coonabarabran. A warm and friendly welcome at the Matthew Flinders Motor Inn, our home for the next 4 nights (Meal Inclusions: Breakfast & dinner in the motel/Light lunch at Forbes)

Matthew Flinders Motor Inn, Coonabarabran (subject to availability) – 4 nights

Forbes Railway Arts and Tourist Centre, Coonabarabran

Forbes Railway Arts and Tourist Centre, Coonabarabran

Day 3 (BD): Local Touring (Tuesday)

Our day starts with a look through the very interesting mega fauna museum where we’ll find the bones of a giant Diprotodon! We are then joined on the coach by a local guide for a tour of town. Next is Newcastle Hats, a local business that has manufactured stylish work hats and outdoor bush hats since 1988. The company created the concept of washable, “squash able” hats which is now common place in Australia. After a look around the showroom and manufacturing warehouse we have some time to purchase lunch before a visit to Crystal Kingdom. This is a private collection of crystals, minerals and fossils found only in the local area. The exhibit also contains some rare and colourful zeolite crystals. Returning to our motel we have time to relax prior to dinner. This evening we enjoy an astronomy presentation at our motel.

We’ll be joined by Peter Starr from the Warrumbungle Observatory where we can take a look at the night sky through some mobile telescopes (Meal inclusions: Breakfast & dinner in the motel).

Coonabarabran, New South Wales

Coonabarabran, New South Wales

Day 4 (BLD): Warrumbungles (Wednesday)

Our day begins with a short drive into the Warrumbungle National Park and Siding Springs Observatory, home of the Anglo-Australian telescope, one of the most advanced in the world. Perched high above the township and chosen because of the clear, dark night skies, Siding Springs is the centre for most of the optical astronomy research in Australia and home to Australia’s largest optical telescope. 

After last nights’ information we should get a lot out of this visit. The Warrumbungle Mountain Range juts abruptly from the expanse of inland plains to form a range of mountains born of violent volcanic action estimated to be some 13 million years ago. The National Park is home to hundreds of native animals and wildflowers. A National Park guide will give us a talk before we head on into the Visitors Centre. They have some picnic grounds here where we will have a picnic lunch before heading to the western side of the Park.

This afternoon we make a brief visit to Tooraweenah, a tiny rural village on the south west edge of the Warrumbungle Ranges. The 16,000 acre Tooraweenah Run was taken up by squatter Andrew Brown in 1837. The first store was opened in 1841 and a village began to develop, though it was never more than a small centre. One event memorialised in the town's history is the Kookaburra March, wherein 23 men set out in 1916 from Tooraweenah on a march to Bathurst to recruit men for service in World War I. There is a veteran's plaque on the village common. Most of the town's buildings remain as they were in the early 20th century so a stroll around the village is a must.

Our final afternoon visit is to the Wattagan Estate Winery, consisting of 12 acres of wine grapes planted in 1996. The vines are drip irrigated and the use of sprays is kept to a minimum. Whilst here, we enjoy a wine tasting. Herbs are also grown in the Wattagan Herb Gardens, a feature of the Estate. After our interesting day we return to the motel for dinner (Meal inclusions: Breakfast & dinner in the motel/ picnic lunches supplied). 

Siding Springs, New South Wales

Siding Springs, New South Wales

Day 5 (BLD): Pillinga (Thursday)

Today we head to the complex known as Barkala Farm which also incorporates Pilliga Pottery. The beautiful woodlands of the Pilliga surrounding the farm provide inspiration for the work done here, ranging from garden pottery to beautifully designed kitchenware and decorative pottery of every shape and size. Using a local source of clay, they make their own cream earthenware and traditional terracotta clays to form into lovely shapes on the potter's wheel and then decorate using their own unique and distinctive methods. Whilst here we are given a demonstration and shown the showroom where the final product is displayed. Following some time to look around the work, we enjoy our lunch at the on-site Blue Wren Cafe

The area is full of a wonderful array of bird life which we may spot during our visit. We then re-join the coach for the drive back to Coonabarabran to relax for the remainder of the day (Meal inclusions: Breakfast & dinner in the motel / lunch at Pilliga Pottery). 

Dundullimal, Dubbo

Dundullimal, Dubbo

Day 6 (BD): Heading Home (Friday)

Today we begin the trip home. This time we make a stop at Dubbo and enjoy morning tea and a tour at Dundullimal, a National Trust property built in the 1840's originally as part of a 6,500 hectare squatting run. 

The timber slab homestead is sophisticated in its T-shape plan and fine cedar joinery, stone stables, stockyards and the remnants of a 19th century garden will all help make this a fascinating visit. Following the Newell south we travel to West Wyalong before taking the road to Temora and onto Wagga Wagga for our final night on tour. (Meal inclusions: Breakfast & dinner in the motel)

Mercure Wagga Wagga (subject to availability) – 1 night

Day 7 (BL): Home to Melbourne (Saturday)

It been a fun week and we have seen quite a bit of Central NSW. Today we have a special “end of tour” lunch planned Fowles Winery & Restaurant at Avenel in the Strathbogie Ranges. Fowles was the first Victorian winery to win the Great Australian Shiraz Challenge trophy for Australia’s Best Shiraz. Mid afternoon we return to Melbourne to complete our tour having had a wonderful tour discovering Coonabarabran and her surrounds (Meal inclusions: Breakfast in motor inn / platter lunch at Fowles Winery).

Tour Price

$1275 per person (minimum 35 people) sharing a twin or double room

Add $290 for a guaranteed single room

($1330 minimum 30 people, $1410 minimum 25 people 

Tour Inclusions

Tour Price includes accommodation as per the itinerary, meals as indicated (B= Cooked breakfast, L= Light or packed lunch, D = Buffet or limited choice 2 course dinner) deluxe touring coach with seatbelts, attractions/entries as noted. 

To make a booking/Cancellation Policy

Contact ARJ with the preferred dates your Club would like to travel. ARJ will then confirm all the arrangements in your Club Name – subject to availability. A quantity (50) colour information flyers will be provided for distribution to interested club members. The Club’s Group Organiser or Tour Manager should then collect a minimum deposit $200 per person from those members who wish to travel on the tour. ARJ will fully refund this amount for anyone who cancels up to 60 days from departure. The deposit becomes non refundable within 60 days of departure. Balance of payment is due 30 days prior to departure. Any cancellation within 30 days of departure attracts an additional cancellation fee of $200 per person. No refund inside 7 days. Travel insurance is strongly recommended.

All itineraries are subject to change due to occasional restrictions in opening times/days of some attractions, e.g. churches, wineries etc. We cannot be held responsible for any changes due to closures, inclement weather etc.