West Wyalong to Narranderra, and beyond!

This is the last section of this odyssey, where we’ve travelled from West Wyalong, to Narranderra all the way to Tocumwal!

Day 1 – 43km

After trying to decide where to stop, we decided to push on all the way to Mirrool, where the stock route started again. So, we left our camp at West Wyalong Showgrounds and headed along the Newell Hwy to the free camp at Mirrool. Where we enjoyed a hearty dinner at the Mirrool Hotel and brief discussions with curious patrons about our journey along the stock routes. 


Day 2 –  22km

Before we departed we met another drover who was kitted up with his horses for the ANZAC parade and enjoyed another brief discussion. We departed with words of support and headed west along the railway line, towards Ardlethan! This was a nice section, mostly dirt road and dirt tracks that jumped between the north and south sections of the railway line. We had a mid-way break at approx. 10km where the reserve meets Mirrool Creek. Passing through the cute town of Beckom, we availed ourselves to their bottle refilling station in the park.

Our overnight stop was at the Ardlethan at the Showgrounds, where we were welcomed by the local community members. We enjoyed beautiful company, yummy dinner cooked over the fire, the gift of warm winter clothes and toasty hot showers! We discovered the following day, that this quaint little town is officially recognized as the “Home of the Australian Kelpie”. I wish I could spend more time in these little towns. Ardlethan has a walking tour through town and even a 90km driving tour (though I reckon you could ride/cycle it too!).


Glory and Grandfather Beckom

Day 3 – 21km

Since we had a short day today, we decided to treat ourselves to a delightful breakfast at the local cafe Ariah62. This day, the stock route headed along Mumbledoon/Old Willows Rd which started out as dirt road and turned into dirt tracks. We passed a couple plaques for old inns/hotels so it must have been an old coach route. Frustratingly the stock reserve were fenced in, no gates. Some they’d replaced the fencing, and wired over the old gates, excluding them completely. It made absolutely no sense. At the halfway point where the stock route intersected another running south, we came across a local farmer taking a shortcut. He had his own stories to tell of the stock routes and trying to use them. Upon departing ways, he shared some local advice for where we could find water for Glory. We finished the day at a nice dam in a stock reserve along Kamarah Rd, just up from Mirool Creek.


Mumbledool Rd stock route
horse shadow

Day 4 – 31km

This day was along tar road and then through Mejun State Forest tracks. Our halfway point (12km) was at a stock reserve dam at Landervale. Unfortunately, there was clear signs that water trucks had been accessing the dam and pumping out water. After this point, we entered the nicely shaded Mejun State Forest. It is fully fenced and there was evidence of livestock passing through. There was a dam part way through that had all manner of wildlife visiting, especially bird life. The state forest is split into two sections by a dirt road and the gate had been wired shut. So it took a few minutes to detangle so we could continue through. This section clearly still had cattle in it and as we reached the stock reserve on the other side, I was glad we hadn’t opted to stay overnight. It was grazed to bare dirt and the dam was becoming fouled. There was a cocky gate to get back out of the stock reserve, which was also wired shut and entailed another few minutes detangling. I’d received word from the support driver that the next stock reserve near Lake Coolah also had cattle in it with no signage for the lease holder. With Glory’s assistance we pushed the Bullocks out after their afternoon drink. There was evidence they’d been in the stock reserve dam for some time, with it being grazed barren, lick blocks and supplements being placed out for them. It’s hard when you come to a reserve grazed bare as  you can’t feed hay or chaff to your horses along the stock routes.

Grazed barren - as a traveler with livestock this is sad. As a soil scientist this upsets me even more so!

Day 5 – 16km

This was meant to be quite a short day and we headed off along the tar road into Narranderra. My grandfather and I parted ways halfway as I went up through the depths of the stock reserves to find a dam to water Glory. I found a dam in a paddock of adorable Alpaca’s, so did a few return bucket trips under their curious watch. Unfortunately, Glory got a stick stab injury in his coronet band and went lame. So, the support driver collected us and we headed to our overnight rest stop, the stock reserve surrounding Brewery Flat. While there we observed several travelers impeding access in the stock reserve and stock route, but there was such poor signage you can’t really blame them. We enjoyed a pizza dinner and access to the laundromat in town.

Having spoken with a council worker cleaning the facilities, they gave us some background on the flooding washing away signage. They also mentioned the council ranger was responsible for ensuring the stock reserve and stock route remained clear. I noted when the Narranderra council ranger drove through the later that morning, they didn’t do anything.

The signage at Brewery Flat - on the toilet block, nowhere near where anyone drives in....

Day 7 –

The next day, Glory was still lame. We didn’t have time to wait a couple days (gotta get back to work) so we decided to float closer to Tocumwal. Taking our time, we stopped and investigated the stock routes (~180km), water points and stock reserves we’d planned to use, spaced every 20-30km.

Our planned route followed the stock routes from Narranderra, along the Newell Hwy through Jerilderie and Finley. We passed through a large mob of cattle near Jerilderie that were using the stock route along the Newell Hwy, which was great to see. One of the reserves we’d planned to stay at, outside Jerilderie had been heavily grazed to bare earth. South of Finley we also noted that someone has been mowing the stock route, which is a big No-No. 

The following day, Glory was sound and rearing to go, so we rode the several kilometres into Tocumwal to get our photo taken with the iconic Murray Cod.

We spent a few days resting on the Murray River, discussing the journey with friends and supporters who came to visit. They even treated us to a canoe to enjoy a paddle down the Murray and explored some local First Nations sites, like the Tocumwal Blowhole.

Tocumwal blowhole

The return trip!


The first day we headed off to Gundooee Organics Farmstay near Leadville. They are the first organic certified Wagyu beef producer in Australia. A beautiful, ethical operation, focused on regeneration and leaving the land better than it was found.

It was a long day due to an accident on the Golden Highway, but we were treated to a fabulous meal and a great evening of thoughtful discussion. We left the following morning with lots of food for thought.

Serving home cooked food
Homecooked food - Yes!
Gundooee Cottage
The adorable Gundooee Farmstay Cottage

The following day we collected Melika from Mendooran, which was an adorable reunion. The Mendooran Food Cycle was that weekend and despite the wet weather, it was fantastic to see all the users enjoying the Central West Cycle Trail.

We continued on to the hot springs outside Moree, so my grandfather could revel in its bliss as well. The following day we had a flat car battery and navigated saturated roads trying not to get bogged from the rain. But – it was worth it for the hot spring! In the end, we all made it home safe and sound!

In hindsight, home has a slightly different meaning for me now. As I felt just as at home traveling the stock routes, as I do at the farm.

All in all, we did a bit over 1000km on horseback, and my octogenarian grandfather hiked almost 200km alongside me. Our total planned route was a bit over 1200km. It was quite touching starting at one river (Macintyre) and ending at another (Murray).

One thing is for certain, we are already eagerly planning the next one!

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