From the upper reaches of our crystal clear waterways in the mountainous Coolah Tops area, to the more gentle hills in the west, the majority of the soils are fertile and highly productive.
Mixed farming is carried out, covering all winter cereal crops plus any of those suitable for summer growth, due to the varied average rainfall of 450 to 650mm. Prime cattle, fat lambs and fine wool production feature heavily in the district. Our timbered areas yield cypress pine, stringybark and ironbark.
The Coolah area was first discovered by the well-known botanist and explorer, Allan Cunningham, who reached Pandora Pass in June 1823, following a three month trek along the ranges in a northerly direction from Bathurst. Footsore and weary, Cunningham looked out over the magnificent grandeur of the Liverpool Plains and the Coolah Valley and was inspired to bury a bottle containing a message, which was to be conveyed by the finder to the people of Bathurst. There is no authentic record of this bottle ever being found and possibly it is still buried beneath the rich soil of the the Coolah Valley. Perhaps you will find it?
A memorial plaque set into a large rock near Pandora Road marks the site where Allan Cunningham’s party spent the night before moving further up the valley and discovering Pandora Pass. The site is adjacent to the creek and little imagination is necessary to understand why Cunningham chose such a spot – it is still a wonderful picnic place!
Pandora Pass itself, is 815m above sea level. From here, and nearby Direction Head Mountain (1095m above sea level), a magnificent panorama of the Coolah Valley and the Liverpool Plains can be seen.
During the late 1820s, early pioneers, Lawson, Vincent and Nevell, with their bullock drays, pack horses and livestock, came to the district to settle along the banks of the Coolaburragundy River.
Henry Clarke and Joseph Meyers were the first grantees of land near the site of the town in 1831. By 1848, at the present site of Coolah, several ironbark slab buildings had been erected, including a blacksmith’s shop and hotel. Legends abound of bushrangers and early squatters, shearers and bullockies and life on farms, stations and villages.
In 1866 the population of Coolah was 60 and in the 1870s fine local sandstone was employed for the building of homesteads and churches, reflecting the prosperity of the times.
For a snapshot view of Coolah in 1948, see the large format photographs taken by Max Dupain, on display on the walls in the Coolah Library.
Take a drive to Cameron’s Lookout, 6km from Coolah on the Cassilis Road. A simple parking place, it has as spectacular view of the Coolah township and the Coolah Valley.
As you look at the view, imagine the Coolah Valley in days long past when
the settlement was tiny, farms sparsely inhabited, small flocks of sheep looked after by shepherds who lived solitary lives, perhaps visualise a bullock and dray transporting essential items, the occasional person on horseback and a small group of aboriginal tribesmen moving through the lightly timbered country.
During the early days of settlement, aboriginal Gamilaraay and Wiradjuri tribesmen roamed the hills and valleys of the district and beyond.
Burial sites were identified at the turn of the 20th century, however locations of any surviving marked sites are jealously guarded.
One famous tribesman in the district was King Togee, who headstone stands 29km west of Coolah on the Neilrex Road. A loyal friend of the early settlers he was speared in old age by a young tribesman named Cuttabush, who eventually became leader of the Coonabarabran sub tribe. The headstone was provided by the settlers he had befriended.
A warm welcome is extended to visitors at our pubs, club and accommodation providers. Why not sample our hospitality and country living? We have lots of experience as several wayside inns existed in the area in the early days of the Colony.
These inns were certainly needed by those who had to travel long distances between towns. The best known was the Black Stump Wine Saloon, situated on the Warrumbungles Way, about 10km north of Coolah. It was the staging post for north-western NSW – an important role, resulting from its position at the junction of the coach roads – Gunnedah-Coolah, Coolah-Coonabarabran and all points west.
The position of the inn is clearly marked on the old maps and like many a pub before and since, it became the hub from whence men dated their journeys and gauged their distances. The saloon was named after the nearby Black Stump Run and Black Stump Creek. It is from these names that the saying “Beyond the Black Stump” was derived.
In 1826, Governor Darling proclaimed the boundaries in the area including the Black Stump Run. Although a number of towns in NSW have vied for the claim to the original Black Stump, Coolah has the oldest and most substantial claim.
If you enjoy nature, one of the most scenic areas in the Coolah district is the Coolah Tops National Park (previously known as the Bundella and the Warung State Forests). Its entrance is 30km east of Coolah and situated at the western end of the Liverpool Range.
The panoramic vistas from Bundella Lookout and the Pinnacle are clearly worth negotiating the gravel road to Coolah Tops National Park. The closest waterfalls are Norfolk Creek, Bald Creek and Rocky Creek, all accessible in fine weather. There are many hidden treasures in this natural wonderland. The polygonal basalt columns are evidence of the ancient upheaval that shaped this high altitude basalt plateau, tipping to the west to the Liverpool Plains and the eastern extremity to the Hunter Valley.
The colours of four seasons are painted on this unique sub alpine and temperate forest with kangaroos and wallabies appearing out of the morning mist to stare at strangers. The giant grasstrees transport you back to ancient times and the snow gums and other rare flora stand in the stillness of this majestic sanctuary.
Remnants of early settlers offer rustic accommodation and relics of a timber industry invite interesting photo opportunities. Stay a while and observe the myriad species of birds from finches to raptors and fauna such as the Greater Glider.
For more information on what Coolah has to offer please visit our Tourist Information Centre in Binnia Street.
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Coolah Town Tours Brochure – walking and self drive
While in Cassilis, explore the town using this brochure as a guide, or contact Cassilis local Kathy on 0473 241 288 for a guided walking tour and for entry into the Cassilis museum (gold coin donation). (Use of brochure allowed with thanks by the Cassilis Museum Committee).