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 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
The Walcha to Kentucky Mix Terrain ride is a 72% paved ride. So if you haven’t jumped on the gravel bike craze just yet you could get away with just about any road-worthy bike. While the gravel is like a fine parmesan, you should still at least take a spare tube if this is you.
The 25km of gravel sits in the Salisbury Plains, a fast and gentle roll through the wide-open farmland. The gravel stops abruptly as you cross Thunderbolts Way and shoot straight to the small 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 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 orcharding 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.
About 4 km south of Kentucky is Kentucky South which was a rail siding that opened on 18 October 1926 and closed on 20 February 1975. Some of the old rail sheds remain there along with several houses.
The last 30km of the ride travels through Wollun, another tiny town with the quaintest of churches. And start the journey back to Walcha on Bergin Road. A small warning to keep your wits about you and the pop anthems in your headphones slightly turned down. Thunderbolts Way, your final stretch can become glary in the very late afternoon setting sun, best to keep an ear out for coming traffic.