New England / Bylong Valley

Day 1 – 4 March 2015

Left home at 9:30am and headed for Tamworth. No scenic trips down the back roads this time, straight down the New England Highway. Did have to do one detour around Glen Innes due to the highway being closed as a result of a School bus accident.

Day 2 – 5 March 2015

Rest day in Tamworth

Day 3 – 6 March 2015

Alison took a long walk today around Tamworth.

Day 4 – 7 March 2015

Left Tamworth at 10:30am down the New England Highway. Have always wanted to stopped and see Burning Mountain and see if it is still as interesting as when I went there as a child., The bush walk up the trail to the site from the parking spot was delightful. There is certainly some beautiful views to be enjoyed. The burning mountain bit? – Well it was disappointing, not as I remember and although you could feel some heat and smell a hint of sulphur not really much to see for the 90 min walk.

Finally turned left off the New England Highway at Muswellbrook and headed along the Golden Highway into the ranges. First stop was Pukara Estate – Olive farm. Olive tasting certainly provided some surprises. There was an incredible variety of products they are made from olives. Who would have guessed? The ladies behind the counter were also a joy to talk to as they went about their sale pitch. We purchased an olive and chilli jam.

Pukara Estate Pano Pukara Estate

Before long we reached Denman, and then just before Sandy Hollow we headed down Bylong Valley Way.

Decided to head down to Widden Valley to take a look. The scenery was lovely and we saw mountains with names like the Cats Ears and Wedding Cake Mountain.

Cats Ears

After a small amount of 4WDriving we arrived at Wollemi National Park where we setup camp for the night amongst the cliffs.

Thinking back it had been a wonderful day, including a quick chat with Ben from Myrtle Creek and a interesting drive through Widden Stud.

Tonight will be the first real camping night for this trip. The scene was beautiful as the sun set, and the evening air was filled with the sound of bellbirds and crickets. The sun also filtered the light over the scene casting a rich orange glow.

Myrtle Creek 001

Or a better name for this may be where there is NO Smoke, NO Fire!.

The walk up Burning Mountain is a pretty walk. There are many seats along the way so you can rest the tired legs. You start your walk at a large set of steel steps that cross a fence before heading into mixed eucalypt woodland. The walk takes you through several great lookouts that provide views for kilometres.

Burning Mountain

Eventually, you find the vegetation changes to Stringybark’s, the first type of tree that revegetates these areas after the coal seam has burnt out beneath it. There is not much undergrowth, but the fierce tiger pear cactus is in abundance.

On reaching the pinnacle of the walk, you come to a walk way along the side of the most recent area that has been subjected to the massive heats vented up from below. The surface is encrusted with red ochre (iron oxide) and white alum and the vegetation is bare. The area is not as active as it once was and there is no sign of smoke or fire. I still remember the first episode of Leyland Brothers where they featured a much different place. I am sure one day the seem will once again come to the surface and smoke will once again be seen.

Burning Mountain Trail View