These routes are a part of a collection of day and multi-day routes created by Jorja Creighton aka @jambi_jambi for Walcha Tourism. The day rides are offered with detail and are free to enjoy. The multi-day routes in greater detail; camping, resupply, water sources, and additional information can be bought through this website.
This one day route is the big XL sister of the route of the same name. The XL stands for 18% extra length, 10% increase in gravel ratio, and for the extra fries you can order at the Walcha Road Hotel.
This route is free! but if you feel the urge to donate since you had a great day or appreciate the information you can do so here;
It has an almost even split of gravel to paved roads and adds the extra length by riding through the wide open Salisbury Plains and sending you through the township of Kentucky.
As a passer through, you might not see much going on in Kentucky, in the 2016 census the population was stated as 157. While the only sound might be your freehub, there is an eerie energy of more than meets the eye. In 1870 on May 25, Alexander Binning Walker, a rural lock-up keeper, chased and killed the infamous bushranger Fred Ward, aka Captain Thunderbolt at the Kentucky River.
The township started as an orchading settlement for the returned WW1 Servicemen. The weatherboard cottages on the small blocks were won by ballot for these returned servicemen and women. This township is a part of the Uralla Council area and their website has a great summary of why this area is more than it seems. I have grabbed a couple of emotive snippets…
“Nationwide, the soldier settlement scheme was a disaster, as often the country selected was unsuitable and the blocks were not large enough. According to a government inquiry in 1929, one third of the settlers failed in their attempts to work the land.”
“However, once the orchards started to bear fruit in Kentucky, the area prospered, also bolstered by the surrounding grazing land of Kentucky Station and Terrible Vale, which was producing some of the nation’s finest wool. Churches, schools, halls, and shops sprang up, and lively dances, sporting days, and community gatherings were the order of the day. “
The peacefulness of this idyllic lifestyle was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II, when Kentucky, like nearby Uralla, volunteered a high proportion of its men.”
If you wanted to pop into Dobson’s Distillery for a Gin tasting you absolutely should, otherwise find a more hydrating snack at the general store. You could also ask to see 40 historical photographs of the early years of Kentucky which now hang in the Kentucky Memorial Hall.
You meet up with the smaller route as you cross the Main North Line. Giving an opportunity for those in your group wanting to prioritise joy on the smaller route to wait for you here.
There isn’t much use racing the southbound trains as you start a beeline to Walcha Road Hotel. They only travel through once a day at 9 in the morning. But you can enjoy the quiet, sturdy tracks in the landscape to your right as you roll down to fill your belly with pub grub.
The original historic Walcha Road Hotel built in 1860 was damaged by fire but has since been renovated and reopened in 2010. While you wait for your parmi you could walk up the adjacent road to find the almost hidden heritage listed Walcha Road Station. It has large steel remnants from when the trainline serviced the superphosphate, live export and over 8,500 bales of wool each year.
After a long break you can quickly shoot up the Oxley Highway. Just as the blood returns to your legs - turn onto Niangala Road. The powdered gravel finally crunching at your tires. A quick cruise down to the MacDonald river - the winding, willow lined river which demands to be swum in come the summertime.
The afternoon sun behind you, take the romantic journey through quiet country roads and quiet houses of the Walcha locals. The gravel so smooth it conveyor belts beneath you.
Coming with the sun at your back into the town. If you are thirsty for another drink you could always make a sharp left turn to the Commercial Hotel, hidden off the main road. An open fire, warmly welcoming pub. Where the locals park up every afternoon and make sure to keep your ears clean to hear the most current local town gossip.