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Ben Lomond was once a place of some importance. These days only the curious traveller will find time to divert off the New England Highway to bother with a visit
It's reasonable to suggest that there's not a lot of highlights though it is a pleasant enough route if you have the time.
In the old scale it's just under 5,000 feet (1520 metres) and is the highest point on the New England Range.
The somewhat forlon railway station, at 1363 metres, is Australia's highest and has been tarted up but as you stand midst the tall grasses enveloping the tracks you can't help but reflect on the demise of a once grand railway system slowly decaying due to neglect from successive state governments.
Ben Lomond was featured in the Australian movie, Little Boy Lost. The old memorial hall has many memories of crowds watching the old silent movies.
There is a village and some shops but you probably would be unlikely to buy your weekly groceries here.
If you would like a B&B in the guise of a farm stay then there are several in the area and they would be wonderful either for a romantic weekend or for a school holiday with the kids.
Updated May 6, 2006
This is some of a series of shots I took adjacent to the New England Highway just south of Tamworth. I remember ringing my mate Col, another keen amateur photographer, and tipping him off it might be going to happen that night.
With the luck of the draw I was driving and found a lovely foreground that the whole spectacle worked around while Col, some 15 kilometres away, didn't even bother taking a picture as his viewpoint was so different and it didn't really happen where he was.
If you go to the extra pictures you will clearly see the various phases that it went through. I took about 10 to get these. Hope you enjoy.
Written May 5, 2006
Standing above gorges is something I find almost mesmerising. Here, almost surrounded by sheer rock faces on a blissful afternoon, your gaze transfixed on the panorama before you, the enormity of the chasm compells your senses to focus on your mortality; on your insignificance in the overall scheme of things.
The torrent's echoing roar up the canyone walls is softened by the green foliage as plants tenuously cling to their cliffside niche while the cool breeze flexes their stems and the leaves bow in homage to their demands.
Updated Apr 20, 2006
Drought is a fact of life in rural Australia. Just about every year, somewhere in this wide brown land, there is a dearth of water.
This shot was actually taken at the beginning of a drought.
Three weeks before there had been a little bit of green shooting at the bottom of the grasses then the frosts came and knocked it off.
Now, the only natural colour other than fawn grasses are the introduced species of trees flaunting their autumnal colours.
This photo is of a property about 2kms south of Guyra.
Written Jun 3, 2005
Address: New England Highway, Guyra
Looks pretty on the side of the road. Shame it's on its way to being a noxious weed in Australia.
Those leaf tips are very pointed as well, so don't try messing with them. The Yucca plant (Yucca Gloriosa) is not for us.
This example was on the Bundarra Road between Uralla and Inverell.
Updated Mar 7, 2005
The lower Apsley Falls are reached via the Owens Trail that crosses the river before the main falls and skirts the clifftops on the northern side with some lookouts at key points. This is taken from just before the bridge that crosses the river, easily fordable most times without a bridge.
It was about 2 minutes after taking this shot that I nearly stood a red-bellied black snake. Just as well he was more scared than me!
Updated Mar 4, 2005
There are certain roads in Australia. They are on the east coast and they travel from the coast to the top of the Great Dividing Range. En route they pass through, in my opinion, some of the most stunningly beautiful scenery Australia has to offer.
Sadly, few international tourists gravitate onto these roads. Instead, lured by beaches they've only ever seen on brochures, they hug the coast. While I'm not knocking that activity, I am suggesting that you tarry awhile inland where you will come across scenes such as this on the Wauchope - Walcha Road. This route also passes by Tia and Apsley Falls, also included in these pages.
If this has appeal then don't miss it. There's about a dozen such roads and all of them have something to offer.
Written Mar 4, 2005
This is one of the many falls around Armidale that cascade from rolling farmland into the gorge that eventually becomes the Macleay River and the Oxley WIld Rivers National Park.
Easily accessed and with a good range of walking trails (a good place to see echidnas), you will need your own transport to get there but it's only about 20kms from the town and, if you like that sort of thing, well worth a look.
It's officially listed as a 394 foot drop.
Updated Feb 1, 2005
This is on a road appropriately titled, these days, Waterfall Way. It was in a blatant attempt to promote the area and make people aware of what they were driving past, that the authorities renamed the roads.
It's worked a treat. Slowly but surely people are starting to become aware of the fabulous gorges and falls that abound in the New England area.
This is one of the better know ones, called Apsley. It's sharp drop over jagged steps into a precipitous gorge is spectacular, as is the canyon itself as it gravitates seaward.
When this shot was taken, years ago, there were no facilities. Nowadays you can camp there, buy a hot dog (what are you thinking of, obviously not your weight!) at the kiosk and dine on the park tables.
At 374 feet, it's not the longest drop but, believe me, it's still a looooong way to the bottom!
It's situated east of Walcha, heading towards Port Macquarie.
Updated Jan 30, 2005
This is not so much a "must-see" activity as a "hard-to-avoid" activity. Its proximity, adjacent to the New England Highway, means that you will notice but, apart from buying fuel at the local service station, I haven't found any reason to tarry there. The village has a nice setting, situated as it is at the base of the Moonbi Range, but there's nothing there to make you stop except this rather attractive sign that the local council has erected.
Written Jan 28, 2005