Even if I’d been to Woodenbong BEFORE I listed the Aussie place names that WON’T keep you guessing, it never would have made the cut.
Yes, there really IS a town called Woodenbong.
And no, this Northern New South Wales town just south of the Queensland border and ~150 km west of coastal hot spot Byron Bay ISN’T named after a giant wooden bong. Nor did I find anything else in its surrounds to which its unusual name could be attributed.
But I DID find a small town worthy of a TOP Aussie Towns title! Here’s FIVE good reasons why!
1. The Scenery
It’d be hard for Woodenbongians (Woodenbongites? Woodenbongese?? The Woodenbongish???) NOT to brag about their scenic setting, surrounded as the town is with several distinctive rocky crags, the remnants of an ancient shield volcano. Ironically, they’ve all got names like ‘Edinburgh Castle’; ‘Bald Knob’ and ‘South Obelisk’. In fact, Woodenbong could have been named for any of these with no mystery whatsoever! But I digress …
But the scenery doesn’t end at the township.
The nearby eroded volcanic remains, lush rainforests, picturesque waterfalls and spectacular lookouts are worth the drive on the sometimes challenging roads! How did I get that great photo of Mt Lindesay (below)? I took it while Pilchard was changing a flat tyre, of course 😀
A mere $10 (+ $1 for a hot shower) per night will get you a powered site in the community camping area at the sports oval making Woodenbong an ideal base from which to explore the Upper Clarence region, of which this is a part. And who knows? You might be as lucky as we were and get to be there for the school sports day!
2. The Pizza
It’s SO not a tragedy that Woodenbong doesn’t have a bakery when the pizzas from the Woodenbong Hotel (can’t miss it, there’s only one) are THIS good. Oh, so you want a photo?? It’s not going to happen – who thinks about taking photos with a FINE pizza in front of them?
The Pub’s worth a visit in it’s own right. It’s a beauty inside and out, with friendly and welcoming staff, open fires, a lounge room with books and magazines, and an excellent menu. But who am I kidding? If you ever find yourself at the Woodenbong Hotel, you’ll also be right in the hub of the pizza universe so just do yourself a favour and order the pizza!
You’re welcome 😀
3. Australia’s Worst Road?
What was once the Lindesay Highway stretches from Beaudesert up north in Queensland, through Woodenbong, then southwest to Tenterfield. Until it reaches Woodenbong, it’s a pretty good road. From there, it’s a disgraceful collection of potholes, ragged edges, steep drops, rocks, blind corners, narrow passes and undulating surfaces.
But that’s OK. As a highway, minimum standards of quality and upkeep are expected. But with a simple re-bading from ‘Mt Lindesay Highway’ to ‘Mt Lindesay Road’ around about Woodenbong, those pesky maintenance fees just melt away like mist in the sun! It’s a shame about the poor beggars who have to risk their lives actually using the road …
So why have I listed it as one of Woodenbong’s attractions? It’s the route to some of the most scenic spots in the region! AND an adventure – if you treat it with the respect it deserves!
4. The Natural Attractions
Just down the road and round the corner on a scenic drive from Woodenbong, Tooloom Falls, complete with picnic area, loos and campground is a great starting point. The 8 metre drop means the cows drinking at the pool below the falls have NO chance of making it upstream! According to one tourist brochure, the name is derived from an Aboriginal word ‘Dooloomi’ – or headlice – so named to deter youngsters from swimming in the dangerous pool!
A little further on is lovely Tooloom National Park with its loop trail through the World Heritage listed Tooloom Scrub and a lookout with magnificent views across the Koreelah Valley. A detour off the scenic drive and remote Koreelah National Park brings you face to face with Australia’s Gondwana Rainforest – and Koreelah Falls.
Drive south through the magnificent flooded gums of the Yabbra State Forest lining the Bonalbo road to another scenic gem – the Bean Creek Falls (see above), part of a network of creeks at the headwaters of the Clarence River.
A shortish drive across the border into Queensland past Mt Lindesay, and the distinctive peaks of World Heritage listed Mt Barney National Park rise against the skyline. Several shorter hikes make this wilderness area accessible, with longer treks recommended for experienced bushwalkers only.
If you’ve had the guts to travel the Mt Lindesay Road, then Queen Mary Falls just over the border with Queensland is a fitting reward – or at least a handy rejuvenation point for the death-defying drive back to Woodenbong! Part of the Border Ranges National Park, there are several falls along the road to Carrs Lookout, a spectacular view across the Condamine Valley.
And that’s just for starters!
5. The Scenic Public Loos
These aren’t the main public amenities in Woodenbong. They’re not even the main conveniences at the sports oval and camping area! But, they’re the most scenic! Especially when set off by an unseasonal black stormy sky erupting into a wild storm and lashing rain, finishing off the school sports day and driving us inside the camper trailer for a fiercely competitive bout of word games until it was over!
Post-rain sunsets really ARE the best!
There’s a lot we haven’t yet seen and done in and around Woodenbong – but that’s OK! I see another visit to this intriguing area in our future …
And the name? It’s from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘ducks on water’!