The historic rural town of Gilgandra is on the banks of the Castlereagh River in the beautiful Great Western Plains region of NSW. You’ll discover the origins of the iconic bush call at the Coo-ee Heritage Centre. There is the Windmill Walk, galleries and museums, and an emu farm to tour.
The prolonged coo-ee is usually used in the bush to attract attention. The historical connection with Gilgandra dates back to 1915, when a group of 35 men set out for Sydney on the first recruiting march of World War I and called 'Coo-ee' at each town they passed to attract men to join them.
On display in the Coo-ee Heritage and Visitor Information Centre are significant artefacts from the march, including the flag carried by the marchers. There are photographs and the Coo-ee Honour Wall, a moving insight into the men’s lives. The parkland next to the centre is a lovely picnic spot.
In the community plaza is the Coo-ee Digger, a bronze sculpture made by Brett Garling, a leading Australian sculptor. ‘In recognition of the 35 men whom left Gilgandra in 1915 and their eternal footprint on the history of our community and our nation,’ reads the inscription on the plinth.
The kids will love a feathery encounter at Emu Logic, an emu farm. In the Gilgandra Rural Museum are fascinating artefacts, including a Cobb & Co blacksmith shop. A short drive northeast is delightful Tooraweenah, a village at the foothills of the Warrumbungles, an ancient volcanic mountain range.
You’ll find a range of accommodation options to suit various budgets in Gilgandra, which is at the junction of the Oxley, Castlereagh and Newell highways and roughly halfway between Melbourne and Brisbane. The drive northwest from Sydney is 5h 30min. You can also fly to Dubbo and hire a car.
Gilgandra is also known as the Town of Windmills. Some 360 windmills once dotted the area, tapping underground water, before central water supply in 1966. For an enchanting wander, take the Windmill Walk past an avenue of trees and windmills along the banks of the meandering river.