You don’t have to be a cowboy or cowgirl to appreciate the town of Walcha in the New England region of NSW, but it helps. The town is famous for its rodeos, festivals and classic country charm. You’ll also love the wild national parks, lazy touring routes and rich history.
Things to do
Start with a tour of the town’s colonial buildings on a self-guided walking route – pick up a brochure from the Walcha Visitor Information Centre. And keep an eye out for the Open Air Gallery, a collection of 40 outdoor sculptures along the streetscape, created by local, national and international artists.
Check out the events calendar for what’s on around town. The two-day Walcha Mountain Festival in October is great family fun, and in November there’s the Golden Gate Rodeo at Walcha Showground, an event that’s been going for over 50 years.
Walcha serves as the southern gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, where there’s plenty of wilderness adventure and scenic drives to enjoy. Fishing is popular in the national park, where the Oxley and Apsley Gorge Rim walking tracks offer stunning views.
Spot brush-tailed rock wallabies among the eucalypts, or try kayaking and rafting. The Apsley River meanders through Walcha into the national park where it falls over two sheer cliffs into a deep gorge. The Apsley Falls picnic area is a great spot for lunch.
Touring around Walcha
You’ll find two popular motorcycle and car touring routes between Walcha and Wauchope, on the Oxley Highway, and between Gloucester and Walcha, on Thunderbolts Way. The Oxley Highway trip is about two hours and winds through Cottan-Bimbang National Park (along an old convict road).
When touring, you’ll get to see the pastoral wonderland that makes up the Walcha district. It’s home to some of Australia’s finest grazing land for merino wool and prime lamb. The rich soil round these parts also supports vineyards and wineries.
Getting there and where to stay
Walcha is just over five hours’ drive north of Sydney, around six hours from Brisbane and 50min from Armidale. You can also fly into Armidale Airport, a 40min drive away. Places to stay include motels, pub rooms, B&Bs, farmstays, wilderness retreats, cottages and campgrounds.