For a scenic adventure ride or tour on less travelled backroads, follow Billirimba Road from just outside Tenterfield, into the Rocky (Timbarra) River valley, and eventually to Drake on the Bruxner Highway.
The gravel Billirimba Road descends to cross Billyrimba Creek near Billyrimba station. Much higher on this creek in the western part of Washpool National Park are the Billyrimba Falls, while Billyrimba Lookout peers down into the valley from a high ridge. Continue to the intersection with Upper Rocky River Road, and consider that the strike-slip Demon Fault is now directly below your wheels.
A right turn leads to the camping areas at Wunglebung on Rocky River (bookings required, 4WD access). The Bicentennial National Trail continues south into Washpool National Park joining the World Heritage Walk, but those of us powered by enegines should turn left at the intersection of Billirimba Road and Upper Rocky River Road and continue to follow the river downstream.
The narrow road meanders through forest and paddocks, with lovely views over the rocky riverbed below At one point, the road squeezes between some huge granite boulders. The Timbarra (Rocky) River flows north to join the Clarence near Tabulam.
Gold was discovered in the Timbarra River in 1853, and later in McLeods Creek with diggings on the Timbarra tableland. Gold was mined at the Timbarra-Poverty Point field from 1853 until 1886, and then sporadically until 1938. From 1998, mining began again at Poverty Point, but ceased six months later with the mine closing in 2003 after opposition to the environmental impact on the ecosystems and waterways. As you approach Hong Kong Point, you might notice the Poverty Point Fire Trail to your left. Hong Kong Point was a bora ceremonial site for the Millera (Malara) people, the last ceremony was believed to have been held here around 1903.
The road eventually turns away from Timbarra river at McLeods Creek, following Long Gully through a beautiful rainforest area with palms and into Girard State Forest. The road through Long Gully turns from gravel to bitumen as you climb out the valley to join the Bruxner Highway just east of Drake. The Lunatic Hotel at Drake is not named for the inmates, so you can safely stop for refreshments or fuel. Lunatic Mine operated nearby from 1869-1878.
We travelled by 4WD, after spending a few days exploring around Emmaville, Deepwater and Spirabo, but this is also a popular route for adventure motorcycles.