Coolah is a small town in the beautiful Coolah Valley. The charming town is the gateway to the magnificent Coolah Tops National Park, where bushwalking, mountain biking and camping are popular activities.
Things to do
Visit the Pandora Gallery for fine local art, and relax in the Coolah Garden Cafe and Pantry. Follow the trail of colonial explorer and botanist Allan Cunningham and stop at the Cunningham’s campsite before discovering Pandoras Pass, a natural break he found through the Warrumbungle Range.
Coolah Tops National Park is where the Warrumbungle and Liverpool ranges meet. There are trails for bushwalking and mountain biking in the park, as well as campsites, enchanting waterfalls and spectacular lookouts. Among the diverse wildlife are wallabies, gliders, kangaroos and eagles.
The town traces its heritage to the ‘black stump’, a reference to the limits of colonial settlement. The Australian colloquial saying ‘Beyond the black stump’ – beyond European civilisation or deep in the outback - is closely associated with Coolah and has ties all the way back to Governor Darling’s 1826 limit on authorised settlement.
The term, according to the Macquarie Dictionary, might have been popularised by the Black Stump Wine Saloon which in the 1850s stood where two horse-drawn coach routes met near Coolah. The saloon took its name from the earlier Black Stump Run, the boundary limit set by Governor Darling.
A fire burnt the saloon down in 1905. Today the Black Stump Rest Area marks the location of the colonial boundary. There are picnic shelters, an electric barbecue and other amenities at the delightful rest area. Stop for a family picnic at the historic location, a short drive from the town.
Getting there and where to stay
Coolah is in the Warrumbungle region 70 minutes’ drive south of Coonabarabran, Australia’s astronomy capital. Dubbo is 85 minutes to the southwest and Mudgee is 80 minutes to the south. The drive from Sydney to Coolah is five hours, via either the Blue Mountains or the Hunter Valley.