Old Glen Innes to Grafton Road & Dalmorton Tunnel, NSW

🚙 Old Glen Innes to Grafton Road & Dalmorton Tunnel, NSW

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The Old Glen Innes to Grafton Road is a beautiful day trip offering camping, historic sites, Big River country and rolling green mountains. Whether you’re coming in from the Grafton end or the Glen Innes end, you can easily spend a full day meandering through what used to be a bustling valley.

The Old Grafton Road was originally the only ‘highway’ linking the New South Wales New England region, including Glen Innes, to Grafton and the coastal towns right up until the 1960s.

Halfway along the Old Grafton Road, you’ll get to travel through the well-known historic Dalmorton Tunnel, which was cut by hand through solid rock using civilians on low wages.

In this article we’ll cover:

  • Old Grafton Road History
  • Old Grafton Road Points of Interest
  • Old Grafton Road Camping
  • Preparing for an Old Grafton Road trip
  • Map with entry & exit points, plus camps & locations along the way

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Old Grafton Road History

Old Glen Innes Grafton Road, NSW

Let me take you back to a time in the mid 1800s when Bullock Drays carved a narrow track down the range from Glen Innes and through the winding valleys below. 

That became the main route linking the New England region to the coastal towns for up to a century. It also gave the coastal region access to the northwest towns such as Inverell and Moree.

In the 1960s, the Gwydir Highway was built, which is still the main highway in use from Glen Innes to Grafton today.

Cobb and Co coaches used to service the old road from Grafton to Glen Innes. The route was predominantly used by timber getters on the hunt for Red Cedar, as well as graziers.

When the short-lived gold rush hit in the 1850s – 1860s, five towns popped up along the route. Reportedly, the population in the area grew to 20,000 people and Dalmorton even had 13 pubs to service it’s 5,000 residents!

The only traces of that bustling town now are a few timber buildings and some signposts.

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Old Glen Innes to Grafton Road Map

All of the Old Grafton Road points of interest and camps can be found on the Google map below. In addition, each site has been detailed (with photos where possible) in this post.

Map Key:

🔴 RED pin drops = Entry & Exit points to the Old Grafton Road
🟡 YELLOW pin drops = Campsites x 10
🟢 GREEN pin drops = Points of Interest x 8

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Things to See Along the Old Grafton Road

Buccarumbi Bridge

Buccarumbi Bridge, Old Glen Innes Rd, NSW
Buccarumbi Bridge, NSW

Stop at the Buccarumbi Bridge, which crosses over the Nymboida River for a nice swimming and rest stop. The shoreline into the river is rocky, but there are some grassy spots further back.


Old Dalmorton Town

Old Dalmorton Town, Old Grafton Rd, Dalmorton NSW
Old Dalmorton Town, NSW

It’s worth getting out of the car to stretch your legs at the Old Dalmorton Town. Head through the gate and wander around what’s left of the buildings, including some information signage to give you a good back history of the area.

As you walk around, remember that this once used to be a busy Gold Rush town in the mid 1800s with a population of 5,000 and 13 pubs to service the area!


Historic Dalmorton Tunnel

Historic Tunnel, Glen Innes Grafton Road, NSW
Historic Dalmorton Tunnel

The historical Dalmorton Tunnel, which sits closer to the Grafton end of the road, is also known as the “convict tunnel.” Rumour has it that it was constructed by convicts, but in actual fact it was built by civilian labour (apparently on low wages).

Incredibly, the 20 metre Dalmorton Tunnel was cut by hand through solid rock. It opens with 3.2 metres of clearance all the way through and is 4 metres wide.

There was a lot of graffiti in the tunnel, which was intriguing. I found out after we’d visited that there’s even some on the roof dating back to the 1800s written in black paint. I wish I’d known that earlier so that I could have looked up to check it out!

Historic Tunnel, Glen Innes Grafton Road, NSW
Historic Dalmorton Tunnel

Newton Boyd WWI War Memorial

At Newton Boyd’s Henry River bridge sits a World War I memorial.

Historians say that over 30 men left local farms to enlist in the war, but sadly only one man returned. He was a member of the Lacey family who ironically, ended up passing away in a rock slide. That place is now named Lacey’s Gully.

There’s also a local produce stall at the memorial site, with an honesty box to pay for any items you choose to purchase.


Mann River Horseshoe Bend

A beautiful horseshoe bend in the river with exposed granite pan at the Mann River. There’s nice scenery and shade for a rest area as you travel along Old Glen Innes Road.


Wytaliba Community

Wytaliba Bush Fires, Old Glen Innes Rd, NSW (2019)
After the Wytaliba bush fires (2019)

As you drive through the alternative community of Wytaliba, you’ll see houses spotted throughout the bush. There is a public school in Wytaliba so that the local kids don’t have to trek up and down the range every day.

Unfortunately, in December 2019, bushfires swept through the area, demolishing many of the homes and claiming 3 lives. What you see today is what remains or has been rebuilt since that devastating day.


Mann River Nature Reserve Picnic Area

Mann River Picnic Area, Old Grafton Rd, NSW
Exploring the granite sections around the Mann River, NSW

The Mann River Picnic Area is a beautiful place to stop for lunch or even camp for the night. With sheltered tables and drop toilets onsite, it’s a good place to rest and replenish before either continuing on down Old Grafton Road, or making your way up the range back towards Glen Innes.

The Mann River is usually flowing right beside the campground, but our visit was during a drought. We went for a walk over the granite rocks and did find the river still flowing behind some trees.


Running Spring Creek

The Running Spring Creek day-use area offers nice scenery, walking tracks and swimming in a small spring-fed creek. Access is with a 4WD only and there is no camping allowed.

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Old Grafton Road Camping

The following 9 Old Grafton Road camping spots below are in order, starting from the Grafton end. All of these camps can be found on WikiCamps, as well as on the interactive Google map at the top of this post.

While in Glen Innes we stayed at the New England Highlands RV Park, which was a nice green park, within walking distance to the town.

Buccarumbi Bridge – update on camping

Although you will probably find Buccarumbi Bridge listed as a Free Camp on the various camping apps and platforms, it is no longer a camping area (and has never been a free one).

These was originally a campsite setup at the bridge by NSW Crown Lands. However, the toilets were washed away three times during flood events and the amenities block solar panels were stolen a number of times, as well as the building being vandalised.

Buccarumbi Bridge was always a paid campsite, but due to the remoteness of this location, Crown Lands were not able to manage it, which caused the eventual permanent closure of the campground. NSW Crown Lands emailed the local community members to inform them of the closure.

There are at least nine other camping spots along Old Glen Innes Road, so please keep Buccarumbi Bridge for day use only and set up base at one of the other beautiful spots.

Buccarumbi Bridge (day use only)
AddressOld Glen Innes Road, Buccarumbi NSW 2460
Baccarumbi Bridge, Old Glen Innes Road, NSW
Buccarumbi Bridge, Old Glen Innes Road

TSR Boyd River

Free campground with swimming and a bumbling waterfall, which sounds lovely at night. Large flat, grassy area to camp. May need a 4WD to access depending on the weather and condition of the track.

💲 FREE
🐶 Dogs allowed
🔥 Open fire pits
🏊 Swimming
🎣 Fishing
⛺️ Tents, Campers, Caravans
❌ NO: toilets, showers or drinking water

TSR Boyd River
AddressOld Glenn Innes Road, NSW 2460

Flat Area Near Creek

Free camping in a nice flat space along the Boyd River. Pet-friendly, but no amenities. Self-contained vehicles only.

💲 FREE
🐶 Dogs allowed
🔥 Open fire pits
🏊 Swimming
🎣 Fishing
⛺️ Tents, Campers, Caravans
❌ NO: toilets, showers or drinking water

Flat Area Near Creek
AddressOld Glen Innes Rd, NSW 2460

Boyd River Camp

Free camping along the Boyd River, however this spot is only accessible for 4WDs, camper trailers and tents.

💲 FREE
🐶 Dogs allowed
🔥 Open fire pits
🏊 Swimming
🚙 4WD access only
⛺️ Tents & Camper Trailers
❌ NO: toilets, showers or drinking water

Boyd River Camp
Address14 Old Glen Innes Rd, NSW 2460

Clearing Boyd River

Another free camping area along the Boyd River with nice river views. This spot is fairly secluded and is 4WD access only.

💲 FREE
🐶 Dog friendly
🔥 Open fire pits
🏊 Swimming
🚙 4WD access only
⛺️ Tents, Campers, Caravans
❌ NO: toilets, showers or drinking water

Clearing Boyd River
AddressOld Glenn Innes Rd, NSW 2460

Dalmorton Bridge

The Dalmorton Bridge area offers free camping along the river, directly across from the Old Dalmorton Town. Toilets are available just 2 minutes down the road at the Dalmorton Conservation Area.

💲 FREE
🐶 Dogs allowed
🔥 Open fire pits
🏊 Swimming
🎣 Fishing
🚶‍♂️Walking Tracks
🚙 4WD tracks (2WD access to the camp)
⛺️ Tents, Campers, Caravans
❌ NO: toilets, showers or drinking water

Dalmorton Bridge
AddressChaelundi Rd, Dalmorton NSW 2460
Dalmorton Conservation Area, Old Glen Innes Rd NSW
Dalmorton Conservation Area, Dalmorton NSW

Dalmorton Conservation Area

The Dalmorton Conservation Area offers a dedicated campground with drop toilets, fire pits and picnic tables. You can find the campsite on the opposite side of the river to the Old Dalmorton Town.

💲 Cost $3.50 – $6.00 per person, per night
🌲 National Park
🚽 Drop toilets
🍞 Picnic tables
🔥 Camp fire pits
🏊 Swimming
🎣 Fishing
🚙 Slippery when wet
⛺️ Tents, Campers, Caravans
❌ NO: pets, showers or drinking water

Dalmorton Conservation Area
AddressLOT 7302 Gresham Way, Dalmorton NSW 2460
Camping Fees• Adult – $6.00/ night
• Child – $3.50/ night
Book at NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service

Liberation Trail

Liberation Trail is a 4WD access only camp along the Boyd River with no facilities. Pick a spot and set up camp where ever you like.

💲 FREE
🐶 Dogs allowed
🏊 Swimming
🎣 Fishing
🚙 4WD access only (slippery when wet)
⛺️ Tents, Campers, Off-road Caravans
❌ NO: toilets, showers or drinking water

Liberation Trail
AddressOld Glenn Innes Rd, NSW 2460

Camping Area – TSR

A 4WD access camping area, which is nice and grassy. There are many spots along the river and access is easy.

💲 FREE
🐶 Dogs allowed
🏊 Swimming
🚙 4WD access only (slippery when wet)
⛺️ Tents, Campers, Off-road Caravans
❌ NO: toilets, showers or drinking water

Camping Area – TSR
Address7056 Old Glenn Innes Rd, Newton Boyd NSW 2370

Mann River Nature Reserve Campground

💲 $6.00 Booking Fee
🌲 National Park
🚽 Drop toilets
♿️ Wheelchair accessible
♨️ BBQs
🥪 Picnic tables (covered & uncovered)
🔥 Camp fire pits
🏊 Swimming in the river
⛺️ Tents, Campers, Caravans
❌ NO: pets, showers or drinking water

Mann River Campground
Address11780 Old Grafton Rd, Diehard NSW 2370
Camping Fees• No camping fees
• $6.00 Booking Fee
Book at NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
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Preparing for an Old Glen Innes Road Trip

Old Glen Innes Grafton Road, NSW
Some sections of the track are narrow

Whether you’re planning a day trip or camping trip along Old Grafton Road, it’s a good idea to be prepared ahead of time so that you can stay safe and comfortable.

How long is Old Grafton Road?

The 180 km Old Glen Innes to Grafton Road is a scenic dirt road, so allow about 3 hours (or more) to do the whole drive (with stops along the way).

Don’t forget to allow time to return back to your accommodation (unless camping). Taking the Gwydir Highway back, rather than doing the Old Glen Innes Road again is a quicker option for those needing to backtrack.


Old Grafton Road Condition

The Old Grafton Road is mostly gravel with some corrugations in some sections. You don’t need a 4WD to drive along the main road – 2WDs can easily traverse it, just don’t be in a rush.

In addition, there are plenty of 4WD tracks in there for the adventurers at heart. The range coming down from the Glen Innes end is steep, winding and narrow. We passed a few cement trucks who were coming down to work on a bridge, plus there was a logging truck parked at the bottom, so keep your eyes peeled as you round the corners.


How to Get onto Old Grafton Road

Old Grafton Road Entry Points:

  • From Glen Innes – follow the Gwydir Highway east from Glen Innes for 35km, then turn right onto Old Grafton Road
  • From Grafton – follow the Gwydir Highway west from Grafton for 7km, then turn left onto Old Glen Innes Road

Taking a Caravan Down Old Grafton Road

Old Grafton Road is technically suitable for caravans and many people do take them along without any trouble. However, there is a recommendation not to take them down there purely because some of the sections can be narrow, making it difficult to pass traffic.

The best way to enter and exit Old Grafton Road with a caravan is from the Grafton end as the road is much wider and flatter. The windiest section is coming up and down the range at the Glen Innes end of the road. Various trucks also use that range, so I would not recommend taking a caravan down from that end.

There are plenty of caravan-friendly camps along Old Grafton Road, so you can come in from the Grafton end, set up camp and explore the rest of the road without the caravan on the back.

Warning!
The Historic Dalmorton Tunnel is 3.2 m high x 4 m wide.
Be sure to know the height of your set-up before attempting to drive through the tunnel.

Travel Tips for Old Grafton Road

Things to consider…

  • Take plenty of food & water (none available in there)
  • Ensure you’ve got a full fuel tank before heading in (none available in there)
  • Ensure you’ve got a spare tyre
  • Turn on your UHF to channel 40 (if you’ve got one) to keep in touch with any trucks coming up and down the range
  • Allow 4 hours to comfortably complete the road (including stops)
  • Check the Hazards Near Me app for any current fire and flood warnings
  • Pack hat & sunscreen in case of hot weather
  • Pack swimmers & towel for swimming in the rivers
  • No phone reception available (pre-download maps & pre-book campsites)
Old Glen Innes to Grafton Road
Distance180 km (one way)
Time• Allow about 3 hours with stops
• Plus, the return time back to your accommodation
Road surfaceUnsealed, dirt road
Vehicle suitability• 2WD accessible in the dry
• Caravans can enter from the Grafton end
• Some optional sections for 4WD access
Road Trip Packing List

Road Trip Packing List

Don’t forget a thing for your Old Grafton Road adventure with this Ultimate Packing List!

( PRINTABLE & DIGITAL )

  • Pre-filled with 600+ items
  • TICK off items as you pack
  • ADD in weights (to organise payload if applicable)
  • 17 categories
  • Download once, use it over-and-over

Old Glen Innes to Grafton Road FAQs

How long is Old Grafton Road?

The Old Glen Innes to Grafton Road is 180 km long.

How long does it take to drive Old Grafton Road?

Allow 2 – 3 hours to drive Old Grafton Road, or even longer with stops and exploration along the way.

Can you take a caravan down Old Grafton Road?

Yes, you can take a caravan along Old Grafton Road, although it’s recommended to come in from the Grafton end. The range coming down from Glen Innes is too narrow and windy, with various trucks also using the road.

Do you need a four-wheel drive to do Old Grafton Road?

No, you don’t need a 4WD to drive along Old Glen Innes to Grafton Road. The road is dirt and can be corrugated in sections, however, when driven slowly, a 2WD will have no problem with the road.

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2019 Wytaliba Bush Fires (Old Glen Innes Road)

Mann River Campground, Old Grafton Rd, NSW (after bushfires 2019)
Mann River Campground, NSW – after bushfires & waterbombing (2019)

Day 1

Our day trip along the Old Glen Innes Road started out like any other. We got up early and left our camp in Glen Innes by 7.30am.

Our plan was to travel the two hours down the Gwydir Highway to Grafton and enter the scenic drive from the bottom end. That would then give us the rest of the day to meander along the Old Glen Innes Road from Grafton up to Glen Innes. From there, we’d pop out up the top only half an hour from camp.

Just to set the scene, we happened to be staying in the New England region in a bout of harsh drought and major, unseasonable bush fires. Read on to find out what happened…

We were about an hour or so into the Old Glen Innes Road and hadn’t seen a soul all morning.

It was safe to assume that we had the place to ourselves, which was especially perfect when we got to the historic Dalmorton Tunnel. We stopped the car in the mouth of tunnel and all jumped out to get a photo. The kids were busy chatting while we were snapping away.

Next minute, a brigade of fire trucks comes roaring up behind us into the tunnel with sirens blazing!

We crapped ourselves and ran back to the car so we could get off the track and out of the way as fast as we could.

We weren’t far behind the fire fighters as we continued along the track. There are loads of bush tracks out there in the mountains, so we thought they’d be heading up one of those to a fire that had sparked up.

Not far down the track the road became inundated with smoke and was closed off due to logs and falling rocks that had made it impassable. Bugger! We had to turn back around and take the long road home (3.5 hours!) instead of finishing the track over the next hour or two.

Some plans are made to be broken.

Waterbombers, Old Glen Innes Road, NSW
Waterbomber filling up a bucket of water from the river to dump onto bushfires

As we turned around and started making our way back, we came over the crest of a hill to a magnificent sight that we’d never seen before.

A waterbomber helicopter was hovering over the river alongside the road and filling up his bucket to drop onto the fire behind us. It was a great opportunity to chat with the kids about bushfires and what we can do in those situations.

There ended up being two choppers coming down, one after the other, to create a production line of Aerial Firefighters. We stuck around to watch them for a while before making the long 3.5 hour trek back to camp.

2019 Bush Fires, Old Glen Innes Rd, NSW
2019 Bushfires, Old Glen Innes Road, NSW

Day 2

The next day, we decided to get up early and finish the Old Grafton Road track from the Glen Innes end (except for the bit in the middle, which had been closed the day before).

We went in as far as we safely could up to the other side of the fires. We were able to see the Wytaliba school and alternative community of houses spotted throughout the bush, as well as the Mann River Campground.

Later, once we got back to camp, we found out that the Gwydir Highway (which we’d used the previous day to get back from Grafton) actually got off from more spreading fires. Thank the fire gods that we hadn’t left that part of journey a day longer!

Wytaliba Bush Fires, Old Glen Innes Rd, NSW (2019)
Driving through Wytaliba after the fires, Old Glen Innes Rd, NSW (2019)

Day 3

Conditions had worsened overnight to be one of the most unfavourable in New South Wales history, with 99 fires burning across the State and many of them out of control.

By the third day, almost the entire Old Grafton Road was ablaze with people trapped. Many homes were taken and a few lives were lost that day, particularly in the Wytaliba community where residents were not able to get out via the only access road.

I still counting my lucky stars that we escaped that horrific experience by the skin of our teeth.

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Things to do in Glen Innes

Raspberry Lookout

Raspberry Lookout, Gibralta Range National Park, NSW
Raspberry Lookout, Gibralter Range NSW

Nestled in the Gibralter Range National Park is the gorgeous Raspberry Lookout. It offers the most magnificent views over the Bindery-Mann Wilderness Area! The name apparently comes from a native plant that grows locally.

We stopped in to have a look at this on our way down the highway to Grafton, before entering the Old Grafton Road from the east. Raspberry Lookout is only a short 2-minute detour off the Gwydir Highway and is located 63 km (44 mins) from Glen Innes.

Back in the 1800s Red Cedar trees where found in the area and it turns out that they were very well sought after, so logging commenced.

There is an historic tree stump to the right of the parking lot which showcases anchor holes. Those holes once held springboards that the axemen stood on to chop the tree down.

By the 1970s and 1980s locals could see the ecological value in preserving the forest. Due to their efforts, the Gibralter Range and Washpool area are now protected National Parks.


Australian Standing Stones

Australian Standing Stones, Glen Innes NSW
Australian Standing Stones, Glen Innes NSW

The Australian Standing Stones were built in 1991 – 1992 as a national monument to the Celtic people of this country. Since Glen Innes has the unofficial title of being ‘Australias Celtic Country,’ it only makes sense for the Standing Stones to have a home there.

Traditionally, the Celtic people farmed and lived in Europe and the British Isles around 2,600 years ago. Back in that era, it was common for villages to erect tall stones, which could be used as a calendar device. The shadows that the stones made from the movement of the sun allowed them to know when the seasons changed. Of course, reading the sun was the best way to know when to sow and harvest their crops.


Red Lion Tavern

Red Lion Tavern, Glencoe NSW
Red Lion Tavern, Glencoe NSW

If you’re looking for a nice place for a brew and a meal while visiting Glen Innes, head 15 minutes south out of town until you stumble upon the Red Lion Tavern in Glencoe.

Fashioned as an old English pub, complete with fire place, bars, arm chairs and wooden tables, it’s the perfect place to stop in for lunch or dinner. You can even stay upstairs in one of the motel rooms if you need accommodation.


For more activities if you’re heading into the New England region of NSW, here are 20+ things to check out around Glen Innes.

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20 thoughts on “🚙 Old Glen Innes to Grafton Road & Dalmorton Tunnel, NSW”

  1. Thanks Emma and family for a detailed account of the Old Grafton/Glen Innes Road.

    I’ve long been interested to view the tunnel, old bridges, seldom seen valleys and all other sights along the route.

    Sadly, those very fires (what timing) and the BS border closures have delayed my exploration.

    The reconstruction of the Wytaliba Public School and nearby bridge has been fascinating to watch online. Very quick turnaround compared to Queensland.

    1. It’s a really beautiful drive, whether you do it in a day or spend a few days camping. The fires were horrific for the residents, but yes, the school rebuild happened pretty well straight away. I guess they had to as the kids had to travel so far to the other nearest schools.

  2. It sounds like the adventure was nonstop! That’s too bad you were close to some bush fires, but at least it was an educational experience. As an American, it is such a treat to see your pictures. The landscapes here look so incredibly beautiful and varied, and most travel blogs only feature Australia’s biggest cities. Raspberry Lookout is especially striking. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Kevin, it really was an educational day. That’s true, most people who travel to Australia only have time to do the big touristy stuff. I guess the advantage of living here is that I can wander around to many other places.

  3. What a shame that your road trip didn’t go as planned, but you’re definitely very lucky to not have been caught up in that fire! Seems like everything worked out well in the end though. The views from Raspberry Lookout are amazing, but the tunnel is definitely the most eye-opening. I can’t imagine how the rock was cut by hand!

    1. I did work out well in the end. Raspberry Lookout was gorgeous and the tunnel was fascinating. I’d say they had old school hand tools. Would have been super hard work.

  4. Glad to know that you were able to complete your trip even after your first-day setback. I have never seen a waterbomber helicopter and can imagine how happy the kids must be to see one. The tunnel looks adventurous but scary 😛

  5. The views from Raspberry Lookout and the river near Baccarumbi bridge are so breathtaking! Loved going through your adventure and glad to know you are safe and the fires did not play a spoilsport! Take care.

  6. Great adventure in Australia.c Since my daughter moved her family to Melbourne, we have been eyeing posts like this and how we can replicate our RVing days in America in the Land Down Under!

  7. Wow, reading about the first part of your experience got me a little worried, due to the mention of the bush fires! I’m glad it turned out well. Love the pictures of Raspberry Lookout and the river near Baccarumbi bridge!

    1. I guess it was one of those that could have gone many different ways. I’m grateful it all panned out for us. Those two spots were both beautiful.

  8. This looks like such a fun little adventure to take part in! Driving around, taking in the scenery, stopping along the way to view the area. Such a nice thing to do. And the Raspberry Lookout looks so amazing! The views are out of this world!

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