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Tenterfield to Coonabarabran

...following in Thunderbolt's footsteps

sunny 32 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

"Thunderbolt" was a bush ranger who, like one or two others had a 'rank' applied to his nickname. Like many bushrangers, he was revered by folk who lived in the country through which he ranged until he was shot by police near Uralla. This reverence was possibly a bit misplaced as his list of crimes is quite long, although he never killed anyone. His real name was Frederick Wordsworth Ward.

From Tenterfield we eased our way south to Glen Innes through countryside which began to give us some idea of why this area is called New England. We also stopped at one point where some superb blue wrens posed for us. Glen Innes itself was a delightful 'find' with many historic buildings but a thriving modern society. We thought this would be a very livable place, in terms of friendliness at least. After coffee and a (early) mince pie we headed out to the Standing Stones. This area is heavily influenced by Scotland and the Scots and these stones are a replica of the sort of stone circles found in Scotland, particularly on the islands. New South Wales's equivalent of WA's Stonehenge (see earlier blog)!

The name, Glen Innes is believed to have been given in honour of Major Archibald Clunes Innes, a soldier and pastoralist originating from, surprise, Scotland.


A lady in the Tourist Information Centre suggested that we take a scenic route just south of the town and we found this gave lovely views and a nice quiet drive. A little further on, now on the Australia Country Way (Tamworth was yet to come), we drove through Guyra and then found signposts to Thunderbolt's cave. As well as the cave, we found some colourful (mating) butterflies (moths?).

Guyra's name, not surprisingly has Aboriginal origins and means either white cockatoo or fishing place. We didn't see enough of the area to determine which meaning was more likely!


Our final destination was Uralla but we detoured through Armidale, a very attractive large city. Once we had checked in we went exploring and found Thunderbolt's rather understated grave. We were late enough to get just outside town for some sunset photography before catching some well-earned kip.

Uralla is named from an Aboriginal word being meeting place. For those of a mathematical bent, Uralla's postcode, 2358, is he only Australian postcode that is part of the Fibonacci sequence (thanks to New England: High Country for that little gem and the name derivation information)!


The following day we indulged in a little retail therapy in Armidale before driving out on the Waterfall Way to Wollomombi. At the General Store we found an inexpensive but very good lunch to give us strength for tackling the walks around the gorges. We found Wollomombi Gorge easily enough and although it was pretty dry, it was a stunning sight. Wikipedia let me down on the origin of the name Wollomombi so I just have to presume it is an Aboriginal word, probably referring to the nearby gorge and river.

The other 'falls' that we visited were Baker's Creek Falls - again, very little water but fabulous scenery. Back in Armidale I asked for a short back and sides and was scalped - I haven't had to have my haircut for two months! Armidale's name is yet anotherh one with Scottish origins. It was named after Armadale on the Isle of Skye, the ancestral home of George James McDonald, Commissioner for Crown Lands in the late 1830s. What would I do without Wikipedia?! Before leaving Uralla, we had to have a photo of the statue erected in Thunderbolt's honour.


After a far too short stay in Thunderbolt country, we set off for Coonabarabran. I had a dose of hay fever at this time, thankfully rare since being in Australia, and Judith was a bit weary so our driving was turn and turn about rather more regularly than usual. We took advantage of a rest area for a coffee break and, as it was quite hot and the area was not shaded, we made good use of our awning and put up the banner that Judith's brother, Bob, gave us before we left England. On the way we passed through the Country Capital of Australia, Tamworth, but were rather underwhelmed. We were more impressed with Gunnedah where we had a very edible lunch. Gunnedah is another Aboriginal word but this time takes its name from the local Aboriginal people who called themselves the Gunn-e-Darr.

As we were a bit late getting in, we did not get any exploration done before hitting the hay. The following couple of days were quite busy photographically, so I am bringing this blog to an early end in the hope that I can begin to catch up!


Posted by SteveJD 03:24 Archived in Australia

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Really enjoying your posts. Reminders of our visit to Australia, which was by no means so thorough! Blue wrens - my absolute favourite bird.

Ours too, even though they used to torment me when we lived here and it took me years before I took a half decent photo! Yesterday we were thrilled to spot, just, a gang-gang cockatoo. It had been on our wish list and we seemed to be losing out but saw just one but too far up and shaded for a good photo.

by Celia Hatfield

Brilliant photos, and of course just love reading the blog.
Judith looks very comfortable in that chair.

Thanks Lorraine - Judith was far too comfortable! It's a pity we shan't be able to carry the chairs home with us.

by Lorraine Wilson

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