18 km south-west of Kyalite is Tooleybuc, a tiny and tranquil settlement with a village atmosphere and a large sporting club which serves drinks and meals. It is located right on the state border by the banks of the Murray River. Tooleybuc is a pleasant spot for picnicking and riverside walks. Fishing is especially popular and there is a boat ramp. In the warmer months you can take an informal ride on a barge along the Murray River. There is no set fee although a donation will be greatly appreciated as it will go to the Red Cross. You can cook up a barbecue on board, fish or just relax and enjoy the scenery. Another way to access Tooleybuc is to continue north from Nyah along the Murray Valley Highway for 19 km to Piangil North. From this point a road heads east across the river towards Kyalite and Balranald.
8 km south-east on the Sturt Hwy, near the Waugorah Rd turnoff is a good location for fishing and aquatic activities. Yanga Homestead is said to be largest freehold property in the southern hemisphere. One of the first telephones in Australia connected the homestead with the men's quarters. It was installed by Alexander Graham Bell's nephew.
36 km south is the tiny village of Kyalite, situated on the banks of the Wakool River. It was founded by Henry Talbett who established a punt service across the river in 1848 which was used by Burke and Wills in 1860. Talbett soon added an inn and a general store. Today there are only about thirty people although it contains Australia's largest commercial pistachio nut farm. The Kyalite Hotel was established in 1858 and has been faithfully restored, complete with pressed iron walls. A caravan park is attached to the pub while the general store cum BYO restaurant sells local souvenirs and Aboriginal craftwork. It is a very popular area with campers, fishers and shooters. Kyalite State Forest begins 10 km east along the Moulamein Road. It covers 577 ha and envelopes the Wakool River and a plenitude of wildlife.
If you follow the Koraleigh Rd which heads south out of town then, about halfway to Koraleigh, a roadside sign warns you that you are about to come to the Ring Tree. A remnant of pre-colonial days, it is a very rare surviving example of an old Aboriginal boundary marker. Notice that the branches have been tied together so they grow in the shape of a ring. Situated on the right-hand side of the road it is a large tree which stands alone about 10 metres off the road. There are plans to erect a cairn with an explanatory plaque.
Koraleigh Country Collection
If you continue along the Koraleigh Rd you will come to Eagles Lane, a side-road on the left with a signpost alerting you that this is the turnoff to Koraleigh Country Collection which is to be found about 2 km along the road. It consists of a heritage display in a rural parkland setting, featuring horse-drawn machinery and other artefacts and memorabilia of the pre-tractor dried-fruit era (1910-40). There is a nursery, a cactus garden, a craft shop and plenty of birds wandering about.
The principal opening hours are Sundays from 1.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m. and on Monday and Tuesday from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., although other times can be organised by appointment, tel: (03) 5030 2141. During the Victorian school holidays, the business is also open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. The business is well set up for coach tours. If you return to the Koraleigh Rd and follow it south for another 2 km you will reach a T-intersection. Turn right and it is just 2 km to Nyah on the Murray Valley Highway. Attractions just over the border are Tyntynder homestead, Buller's Winery and The Pheasant Farm.
Low Level Weir
6 km west of Balranald on the Sturt Highway is Low Level Weir, another pleasant spot for picnics, barbecues or fishing.
32 km north of Balranald on the Ivanhoe Road is Penarie which has little other than the Homebush Hotel (c.1870) and a camping ground, although there is other accommodation. When Burke and Wills passed the site in 1860 there were already some signs of settlement. Michael Dowdican applied for land in 1877 and opened the hotel the following year.
70 km along the Ivanhoe Road, amidst flat saltbush plains and red sandy ridges is Hatfield. It was here in 1879 that a band of four horse thieves began a very short-lived spree of bushranging when they robbed the hotelier. They were caught after a shootout two days later and subsequently executed.
A branch road which departs westwards from the Ivanhoe Road 58 km north of Balranald will take you on, via Bidura, to Australia's most famous anthropological site, Lake Mungo, where there is Aboriginal material dating back 40 000 years. At Penarie another road branches north-east towards Oxley. Along this road is Redbank Weir, 58 km from Balranald with barbecues, picnic facilities and toilets. The intersection of the Murrumbidgee and Lachlan by the Great Cumbungi Swamp and the swamp itself are excellent fishing spots.
Balranald Island, a few kilometres east of town, is an island in the Murrumbidgee. Measuring approximately 5 km it is considered a significant site by the Madi Madi people as it was the burial place of Jimmy Morris, their last Nguloongurra man (clever man). It is said his great knowledge of the local land and fauna gave him great power. There is no public access.
50 km east of Balranald is the property knows as Hell's Gate. It is on a dead flat stretch of the Riverina. This was the 'Hell', or so the rumour goes, which 'Banjo" Paterson referred to when he wrote of 'Hay, Hell and Booligal'.
It is situated on a flat saltbush and mallee plain by the Murrumbidgee River, 859 km west of Sydney via the Great Western, Mid Western and Sturt Highways. It is 60 m above sea-level it has a population of 1327 people. Balranald is a service centre for the surrounding irrigation district which, in recent times, has expanded from conventional agriculture to viticulture, horticulture and tourism.
Considered the oldest settlement on the lower part of the Murrumbidgee the area was once occupied by, amongst others, the Wemba-Wemba Aborigines, who called the area 'Nap Nap'. European settlement decimated the local community who were eventually removed to a 142-acre reserve at the western end of the town. Virtually all the historic remains can be found at Heritage Park in Market St. There you will find the old gaol and school house, along with the visitor's centre and an historical museum which is open Wednesdays from 2.00 pm - 4.00 pm or other times by appointment, tel: (03) 5020 1599. On the corner of Court and Mayall Streets is the charming old bank building, now a private home.
The grave of Josiah Viles is located in the Church of England section of the Balranald Cemetery which is signposted from the main street. Viles was an eccentric and much loved town crier who used to carry a rifle which he fired when there was an important announcement. He died in 1925.
Greenham Park has a swimming pool, showers, toilets and a recreation/sports ground. There are picnic, barbecue and playground facilities at Lions Park in Market St.
Little remains of the town's early days except the old wharf in Morago St and an old courthouse (not the original 1845 structure) which can be found over the footbridge spanning Billabong Ck at the end of Old Court House Road.
Willow trees line 12-ha Moulamein Lake in Brougham St. With pools for adults and children, a boat-launching ramp and a boat and water ski club it is ideal for boating and other water activities, including fishing, for which the town is well-known.
The Old Bullock Dray
The Old Bullock Dray is an antiquated original which was used last century by local landholder Locky McBean who drove it from Moulamein to Sydney and back in order to increase his holdings. It is located on Barham Road on the southern side of town in a rest area with picnic and barbecue facilities. Within a 20-km radius there are several waterways and state forests which are open to campers and anglers and which contain emus, kangaroos and wild pigs.