The streets of Tenterfield, NSW, are especially nice during Autumn, as rusted gold and apple-green leaves form tunnels and mottled shadows. Passing beneath this seasonal show, my friend and I headed towards town to get supplies after a morning climbing Bald Rock. Tenterfield, as we found out, has an interesting mixture of tourists and country folk and it’s a good place to sip on a coffee and just watch…
Heading towards Boonoo Boonoo National Park, we passed an old hideout of the notorious bushranger Frederick Ward – also known as Captain Thunderbolt – who became Australia’s longest surviving outlaw. Thunderbolt’s Hideout is located about 100 metres off the road, so is easy to access. Here you’ll find a cave, some crevices to squeeze through and pockets to explore. A nice spot but you could give it a miss if you’re pressed for time.
Twenty minutes walk from the hideout, through roadside forest, are the World War II Tank Traps – a few stumps in the ground where Australian troops prepared for an invasion that never happened. I found the logic behind this site bizarre (perhaps I’m missing something). The walk is the best part and unless you’re a fanatical military strategist and/or feel like a forest stroll serenaded by traffic, I wouldn’t bother.
Boonoo Boonoo National Park
From Thunderbolt’s Hideout we drove along Mount Lindesay Road towards Boonoo Boonoo National Park. Here we found a campground (our spot for the night), a spectacular lookout with a lofty waterfall and a dark, mesmerising pool with a cascade that twists across scabrous terrain. This is a lovely spot and is worth at least an afternoon, evening and morning of your time. The stars here were wonderfully vivid. Best bring a jumper or two if you’re here outside of summer though.
Taking the short walk to the lookout I watched the Boonoo Boonoo River plunge 210 metres into the gorge below. In the distance, forested mountains folded into one another and shadows and sunlight pierced valleys that looked seldom visited. This was allegedly the spot where Australian bush poet Banjo Patterson wooed his wife-to-be. I could see how a girl might have trouble fending off the powers of a half-decent poet here.
Further up from the lookout, the dark pool swirls and froths, stirred by a cascade that snakes across bronze-coloured boulders. This place reminded me a little of the 4,000 Islands in southern Laos. At twilight we sat here and watched the water churn and glisten. The next morning I explored the place for hours – hopping over rocks and watching stagnant jade pools as the water travelled swiftly towards its descent into the gorge below…