Imagine carving through a sheer rock face pretty much with your bare hands, without the help of modern road-making equipment. That’s what Australian convicts had to do in the 1860s to built a very special tunnel on the old Glen Innes road past Dalmorton on the NSW mid-north coast.
About eight kilometres out of Dalmorton on the wonderful scenic drive west of Grafton in the Clarence Valley, you suddenly come across the curious convict-carved construction, as the road passes for fully 20m through solid rock. The old Glen Innes road was formed as a path predominantly for the woolgrowers of the area, and was in good use by Cobb and Co. coaches and bullock wagons when it was officially declared a highway in 1876. The hewn edges and craggy surface of the convict tunnel, clearly visible as you inevitably slow down to a crawl, is a true wonder. And the best way to experience this is by taking the entire 244km loop, starting from and ending in Grafton. This traces the Boyd River, goes through World Heritage-listed National Parks, scenic farmlands, passes an old graveyard, remains of the gold mining era, picnic and swimming spots and breathtaking vantage points and lookouts.
WHERE // In the Clarence Valley, at the southern end of the Northern Rivers region of NSW. The tunnel is located southwest of Grafton, 8km beyond Dalmorton.
DID YOU KNOW? // Dalmorton was once home to 13 pubs and 5000 people, all feeding off the gold rush of the 1850s and ’60s. Today the war memorial and a roadsign are all that remain.