Small, quiet country town on the Central Western Slopes of New South Wales
Binnaway is a quiet country town, located between Coonabarabran and Coolah. It was once a thriving rail town connecting farmers and the local timber industry to the coastal ports. It is said that the shops in the town closed for lunch because, during World War II, trains would stop at the town and the passengers would buy up everything in the local shops. The shops closed to ensure the locals had supplies. The journey from Coonabarabran to Binnaway is a pleasant one which follows the course of the Castlereagh River. There are many places to stop and have a picnic on the banks of the river.
Binnaway is located 456 km north-west of Sydney via Newcastle, Muswellbrook and Coolah. It is 35 km south of Coonabarabran.^ TOP
Origin of Name
It is widely accepted that the town is named after a Wiradjuri word 'binniaway' meaning 'peppermint tree wollybutt', or 'Benneway', an early run leased by William Lawson in 1848.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Located at 26 Renshaw Street, the Royal Hotel, built in 1918, is a near-perfect example of a resilient and enterprising small local hotel. It is a pub, a cafe which sells coffee and hamburgers, a gift shop and a movie memorabilia destination where visitors can view memorabilia from the 1957 movie, The Shiralee. Check out https://www.facebook.com/royalhotelbinnaway/ for more information.
Other Attractions in the Area
Coolah Tops National Park
Coolah Tops National Park, which was dedicated as a national park as recently as 1996, is located on a plateau 98 km east of Binnaway via Coolah and Coolah Creek Road. It lies where the Liverpool Range, the Warrumbungle Range and the Great Dividing Range meet. The park is primarily a eucalypt forest on basalt soils with abundant wildlife. One of the most impressive species in the park is the greater glider, a possum which can glide for up to 100 metres.
Warung State Forest Road runs through the park. At the park entrance is an information board. Another 3 km brings you to a 1 km side road on the right that leads to a car park and picnic site from where there is a 1.5 km walking track which leads to the spectacular Norfolk Falls and on to the Bald Hill Creek Falls where there is a bush camping area.
Further along the Warung State Forest Road is Pinnacle Road which heads off to a short track on the left that leads to Cox Creek Falls Camping Area. About another 700 m along Pinnacle Road, to the right, is the park's main campsite known as The Barracks where there is an information bay and toilet-barbecue-picnic facilities. This area is known as a place where giant grasstrees abound.
Another 3 km along Pinnacle Road there is a car park from where there is a short walk to Rocky Creek Falls which offers excellent lookout points from the escarpment where Rocky Creek tumbles over the cliff.
Further north on Pinnacle Road are sign posted departure points for the Racecourse Walking Track (6 km) and the Bundella Walking Track (7 km). The latter leads past a lookout area.
At the end of Pinnacle Road is a short walking track to the Pinnacle Lookout, a steep basalt outcrop with fine views to the Warrumbungles.
The park has a stand of the largest known snow gums in existence. They can be found on the right-hand side of the Warung State Forest Road as you head east about 22 km from Pinnacle Road. There is a walk through the stand.
About 24 km east of Pinnacle Rd, on the left-hand side of The Forest Road, is Breeza Lookout which offers extensive views out over the Liverpool Plains. There is a small picnic area and an information bay. There is also a short but steep track to Shepherds Peak. For more information check out http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/coolah-tops-national-park/travel-info and http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/NationalParks/parkHome.aspx?id=N0088.
Siding Spring Observatory
Located 62 km north-west of Binnaway via Coonabarabran and clearly sign posted from the Newell Highway, Siding Spring Observatory was opened in 1964 and is now home to nine telescopes with more being commissioned.
What is the appeal of the area? This is classic dry, inland Australia and it happens to be an ideal place for stargazing with a combination of relatively high altitude, low humidity, a non-turbulent atmosphere, clean air and an average of 70% clear night skies. Never have the stars looked so bright in the night sky.
Siding Spring Observatory is a complex of international importance which has the largest optical research telescope (the Anglo Australian Telescope opened by Prince Charles in 1974) in Australia (3.9 m). The huge telescope can been seen on the top of the Warrumbungles from the surrounding countryside. The main attraction is the Visitor Centre which includes an interactive exhibition, a theatrette with a short film, a science gift shop and the Exploratory Cafe. The Siding Spring Exploratory exhibition is open from 9.30 am to 4.00 pm Monday to Friday. For more information, tel: (02) 6842 6211 or check out http://rsaa.anu.edu.au/observatories/siding-spring-observatory. It is important to register "SSO is a working research facility and as such it has no public star-gazing facilities. The Observatory and its surrounds are closed to the general public from 4pm each day."
* The district was originally inhabited by the Wiradjuri First Nation people whose lands spread across much of central NSW.
* The explorer John Oxley was the first European in the area. He travelled through in 1817.
* In 1827 the colony's Surveyor-General, Thomas Mitchell, travelled through the region and painted an optimistic picture of its potential.
* By 1848 William Lawson was leasing land in the area.
* The first small landholder to take advantage of the 1861 Robertson Land Act was Charles Naseby who bought his first 50 acres in 1869. It was on his land that the southern portion of the private village of Binnaway was established.
* The plan for the town was drawn up in 1876.
* By 1886 the road to the town was being described as a "black sticky bog of considerable depth."
* The Royal Hotel was built in 1918.
* By the 1920s the town was an important railway hub for timber, grain and iron ore.
* The movie, The Shiralee, starring Peter Finch, was filmed in the district in the 1950s.
* The railway's passenger services ceased to operate in 1975.^ TOP
There is no Visitor Information Centre in the town. The nearest are the Coolah Information Centre, Pandora Gallery, 59 Binnia Street, tel: (02) 6378 5030 or Coonabarabran Visitor Information Centre, tel: 1800 242 881.^ TOP
The town is listed on the Visit NSW website. Check out https://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/warrumbungle-area/destination-information/binnaway. The website http://coolahnsw.com.au/tag/the-shiralee/ is also useful.^ TOP