Queanbeyan-Palerang is full of historic towns and villages with distinctive character. Nestled amidst picture-perfect scenery and spectacular natural parks, these villages are the perfect day-trip destination for locals and visitors in the Southern Tablelands region. This day’s drive will take you through some of the highlights of the Queanbeyan-Palerang region all in one day. Marvel at the scenic landscapes of the rolling hills of Tallaganda and the calm countryside of Carwoola. Explore the history of the old Captains Flat and discover local treasures in Braidwood and Bungendore.
If you have time to spare, have a look at our other recommended trails, such as the Braidwood Heritage Walk and the Wineries Exploration in Wamboin and Bywong to really immerse yourself in the region’s history and artisan culture.
Captains Flat is a sleepy little village nestled on the Molonglo River, among hills adjacent to the Jingera Mountains. The village is easily accessed from Queanbeyan by taking Bungendore Road east for about 4km, then turning right onto Captains Flat Road, and heading south another 45km.
This road passes through picturesque countryside that features several notable properties such as Carwoola Station Homestead built in 1849, Foxlow Station and the traditional Gothic St. Thomas’s Church dating back to 1872, before reaching Captains Flat.
Captains Flat features an array of historic buildings and old mining sites. The origin of the name is said to come from a bull named Captain who was known to graze on the flat grassy paddocks near the Molonglo River. The village was booming in the 1890s and again in 1937-62 as it became the major mining site in southern NSW. In fact, Captains Flat was one of the most important mining sites in the whole of Australia during this time, producing lead, zinc, copper, pyrite, silver and gold. This had a significant impact on the development and settlement of the area at the time. Take a stroll around the village to explore its many historic buildings, such as the old hospital, former post office and Captains Flat Hotel, as well as attractions like the Lake George Mine entrance and the Miners’ Memorial.
Lowden Forest Park
After your adventures in Captains Flat, leave along the Captains Flat Road for 4km and turn left onto Harolds Cross Road. Follow the Forestry Commissions blue and white markers which lead to Lowden Forest Park.
Lowden Forest in in the middle of Tallaganda State Forest which straddles the Great Dividing Range and extends for a distance of around 50km.
The landscape ranges from dry, open woodland to vast forests of eucalyptus. This is a great place to view a wide variety of gums; from scribbly gum to brown barrel, messmate, peppermint and ribbon gum. It’s also home to a wide variety of native animals.
The main attraction of Lowden Forest is hidden in a green fern gully in the forest – an old logging camp from the 1930s. Remnants of the camp remain today and include a water wheel once used to generate electricity for loggers located in the region.
The site is equipped with camping areas, wood BBQ’s, toilets and drinking water, making it the perfect pit stop for visitors looking to take a lunch break before heading out to the next destination.
To find out more about Lowden Forest Park, and the adjoining Tallaganda National Park, visit our blog.
Deua National Park
Depart Lowden Forest and return to Captains Flat Route before turning on to Cooma Road. You’re now on route towards Deua National Park and the Big Hole walking trail.
The remarkable Big Hole is a marble limestone chasm some 96m deep and 50m wide and can be safely viewed from a viewing platform over the hole. To get to the landmark, you will have to take a 3.5km walk from the Berlang campground. The walk can get rather adventurous as you will have to wade across Shoalhaven River along the way. After crossing the river, the walk continues through spectacular eucalyptus forest.
If you’re not in a rush, consider camping out overnight. The Berlang campground is ideal for bushwalkers looking to stay overnight. Spend the rest of the afternoon taking a trip to the Marble Arch, where you will see a boulder the size of a car. To get to the Marble Arch, follow the route through short caves and stunning slot canyons. Keep in mind that it is about a 5-hour return trip with low light at times, so carrying a torch is advisable. There is also a strenuous ascent/descent of stairs to consider before taking on the trail. If you do decide to make the drive into a two-day trip, set up camp alongside Shoalhaven River after the big walk and take in the picturesque view before heading north to Braidwood the next day.
Braidwood & Bungendore
Leaving Deua National Park, follow the signs to Braidwood for your next country driving treat. The entire town of Braidwood is heritage listed on the NSW Heritage Register and it won’t take you long to figure out why. The streets of the town are lined with charming old, colonial-style buildings. To get the most out of your trip to Braidwood, pay a visit to the Braidwood Museum where you can explore artifacts and photos from a bygone era, or take the Braidwood Heritage Walk to tour dozens of historic sites, right in the heart of Braidwood. Afterwards, discover local treasures by visiting the inviting boutiques and speciality shops in town before heading off to the last stop of your drive.
Following Kings Highway back towards west, you will arrive in the village of Bungendore. Filled with historical sites, galleries, antiques shops and restaurants, it is a captivating community nestled in picture-perfect scenery. Enjoy a meal at one of the town’s cafes or restaurants before heading out to Gibraltar Hill to see the spectacular views over Lake George and Capital Wind Farm for the perfect finish to your scenic country drive across Queanbeyan-Palerang.