Climbing through rolling farmland and past awe-inspiring granite formations, this scenic drive gives you a bird’s eye view over Tenterfield and beyond.
As with most of the New England region, Tenterfield is in the heart of granite country. The landscape is punctuated by spectacular boulders, outcrops and formations that you can get up close and personal with in the area’s many national parks. But if you’re pressed for time and would like an easy way to get into the thick of it, the Mount Mackenzie Drive is for you.
It takes just an hour in total – a bit longer if you stop for a picnic at the top. You should, since the view is nothing short of stunning and there are barbecue facilities and picnic tables available.
WHERE TO GO
Depart the Visitor Centre and head north, turning left at Molesworth Street.
Travel on Sunnyside Loop Road, following the signs. Turn left into Kildare Road after 8km.
Approximately 2km on is Doctor’s Nose, a granite outcrop named for its pointy shape. This is 1115m above sea level, and can be seen from the town when looking west.
Small Bald Rock looks like a mini version of the largest granite monolith in Australia, named – you guessed it – Bald Rock. This is located in the national park of the same name, 35km northeast of Tenterfield.
A steady climb takes you to the top of the ridge. The view in the distance is the Mole River District.
The next point of interest is Draining Rock on the right-hand side. This is one of the largest exposed granite rocks in the district, second only to the aforementioned Bald Rock.
Further down the road, you can see the border town of Wallangarra and the mountain ranges of southern Queensland away to the left. Another 500m along a small balancing rock and close by, between two hills, you can enjoy a view of Tenterfield township.
Back on the blacktop, proceed just 20m to Gum Flat Road and turn right to Mount Mackenzie Lookout. Continue for 1.5km then turn left over the ramp. Proceed 3km to the top of the mountain.
At the top of Mount Mackenzie – 1298m above sea level – staggering views await. You can see not only the town of Tenterfield and the Great Dividing Range beyond, but right across the border into southern Queensland. Look for the rock on top of a mountain, just before the edge of the tableland drops into the Cataract River – this marks the Woollool Woolloolni Aboriginal Place.
The return trip to Tenterfield is on sealed roads and you’ll catch glimpses of the town as you descend back down to its level.