Manilla is a charming town on Fossickers Way, west of Tamworth. We headed there to explore the 4WD and walking trails in Warrabah National Park, on the Namoi River.
There are picnic areas and two delightful campsites in Warrabah NP, first the 2WD accessible Warrabah campground, then Gum Hole which needs 4WD. Short walks lead to the river – good for fishing and just relaxing.
The woodland includes native cypress, tea tree and river oak. Bird-watchers can follow the bird routes, and may be lucky to spot a turquoise parrot. Platypus and Bells Turtle may be found in the river.
Our adventurous route
Travelling south from Armidale, we headed for the dirt, choosing a very scenic route through Watsons Creek and Bungendore Spur Rd towards Manilla.
Bungendore Spur Road crosses a number of causeways and is steep in places as it descends the Moonbi Ranges, narrow with two tight hairpin bends, and not suitable for trailers. It would be fun on an adventure motorcycle!
The Peel Fault
The Manilla area is interesting geologically. The Peel Fault stretches from Forster on the coast inland to Warialda. At Manilla, the 350 million year old fault separates two distinctly different types of rocks.
To the east of the fault, the Central Block comprises sedimentary and volcanic rocks formed in very deep ocean, with granite intrusions. To the west, the Tamworth Block is sedimentary rock formed in shallow water. Gold bearing rocks are found along the Peel Fault, and ancient serpentite (you can also see serpentite on the Port Macquarie Coastal Walk).
More information for a geological tour including Bungendore Spur Road and Watsons Creek.
Winding rivers and high fliers
Manilla has a heritage listed bridge over the Namoi, which reminded me of Bawden’s bridge over the Orara, although Manilla’s bridge is not as old. A new bridge was opened in 2021. There is also an old timber railway viaduct in a park.
The Manilla River joins the Namoi at the town, a good river crossing point. The name Manilla means “Winding River”. Namoi River has its source near Walcha (the MacDonald River), and flows west to join the Barwon, Darling and the Murray River.
Manilla is famous as a paragliding destination, hosting some world championship events. We drove up the steep hill climbing 500 metres from the valley to the 900 metre summit of Mount Borah, where there are great views over Lake Keepit, Split Rock Dam and farming country. Mount Borah is private property, see flymanilla.com for more.
There’s a lot do around Manilla!