Today’s tour takes you into the western reaches of Narrabri Shire into the heart of the Pilliga Forest. Soak your aches away in hot artesian baths and venture onto the road less travelled.
Tour – Day 5
Kamilaroi meaning: Swamp Oak
Situated 105km west of Narrabri and approximately 60km north west of Gwabegar, Pilliga got its start from the early development of the timber industry. Gazetted as a township in 1885, Pilliga was once an important centre on the Cobb and Co route, but today is renowned for its hot artesian bore baths.
A wander in the cemetery reveals a fascinating montage of the lives and trials of the past. Of particular interest are the rough–hewn graves of the Indian traders.
The Community Link Centre is a good place to start your visit. Staff will be happy to direct you to such attractions as the Pilliga lagoon, a bird watcher’s paradise.
When you’ve worked up an appetite, the Pilliga Pub, with adjoining accommodation, or the Pilliga Café are both great places for a meal, drink, or to rest your head for the night.
Pilliga Artesian Bore Baths
Constructed in 1902 as a permanent town water supply after severe drought, the Bore has become a popular recreational spot for swimming. The therapeutic value of this mineral-rich water has long been recognised by locals and visitors who make regular pilgrimages to the 37-degree pool to soak away those aches and pains. A roof covers the pool area and has lighting for night time bathing. Camping and caravanning is permitted at the bore baths (fees apply). It has toilets, showers and a BBQ area.
Pilliga Forest–“A Million Wild Acres”
Ever heard of the Pilliga Yowie? The Pilliga Forest, with its vast and unusual semi–arid woodlands spanning over 3000m2, is said to be the home of this Big Foot kin. Seekers are drawn from across the globe in search of this mystical (or is that mythical?) creature. Yowie’s aside, the Pilliga Forest has been long recognised as one of the most important areas for biodiversity in eastern Australia, home to at least 300 native animal species, and over 900 plant species including cypress pine, ironbark, eucalypt, broom plains, and beautiful spring wildflowers.
The scenery within the Pilliga Forest is distinctly unique and makes a trip into the scrub quite an adventure. As you drive across one of the many crisscrossed roads, you may come across remnants of the past (chimney stacks, abandoned timber mills and a cobblestone road) and the future (gas wells).
Today, the Salt Caves area offers a recently revamped picnic area with BBQs and toilet facilities, but according to legend, the caves were once 30m deep, and salt hung in columns like stalactites from the roof. Wild horses, wild cattle and kangaroos were often seen and local women collected the salt to cure their meat. The Pilliga Forest lookout tower offers an incredible bird’s eye view of the entire Forest and the surrounding ranges.
The nearby dam is a great spot to experience the Pilliga’s immense variety of birdlife.
The Sandstone Caves, hidden deep in the Pilliga Forest, are a delight that often go undiscovered.
A 2km looped walking track circles the caves, leaving viewers speechless at the unique tunnels and formations that have evolved over many thousands of years. As you walk you will find a number of caves, including one which is closed and undergoing preservation. Keep an eye out for indications of Aboriginal habitation in this cave – grinding marks and artwork in sandstone.
Sculptures in the Scrub is a cultural delight in the heart of the Pilliga. Indulge all your senses as you explore the five magnificent sculptures inspired by the Aboriginal connection to the surrounding landscape. Soak in the view of Dandry Gorge and then descend into the sheltered oasis of Dandry Creek below. During early spring you will be treated to spectacular wildflower displays.
There is a picnic area with BBQs to relax in for lunch or a campground for those who wish to soak up the atmosphere for longer.
Handy Hint: It is advisable to purchase a Pilliga Forest map from the Visitor Information Centre as there are 2,700 km of tracks through the forest and although most are marked, it would be easy to take a wrong turn
The location of this small village, deep in the Pilliga Forest, is key to its existence. Known as the “Heart of the Pilliga” it is roughly the geographical centre of the timber industries that grew and flourished in the Western Region of the Pilliga.
The modern Community Link Centre in Gwabegar provides an excellent meeting spot for village members and visitors.
Anzac Park in Gwabegar is a designated Primitive Camping ground. Camping and caravanning is permitted free of charge however there are no facilities provided. Please take all your rubbish with you.
Bird watching in the Pilliga
Pickup a brochure at the Visitor Information Centre for a guide on what birds you may hope to spot in the different areas, or visit the following page links for more information about birdwatching in the Pilliga and Narrabri Shire bird routes.