Take a drive and enjoy the beauty of trees, mountain views and war history

Clarence River at Paddys Flat.

Susanna Freymark

I love the adventure of travelling a new road.

Today, on my way to do a story about a goldmine, I drove along Paddys Flat Rd – through Pretty Gully, Paddys Flat and on to Tooloom. I could have kept going to Urbenville.

Paddy’s Flat Rd is 3km west of Tabulam, off the Bruxner Highway.

The road is bitumen all the way to Pretty Gully. There is a pocket of subtropical rainforest where the road dips. The lush palm trees belie the dryness and burnout trunks of the surrounding trees from the 2019 bushfires.

There are valleys of dead trees with new growth clambering over the spindly trunks. It’s a stark reminder of what this landscape has been through.

About 28km along Paddys Flat Rd is Paddys Flat Bridge crossing the Clarence River.

Just before the bridge are the tank traps used as a line of defence against the Japanese invasion of northern Australia in 1942. There were about 10,000 United States and Australian troops camped in the Tenterfield region then.

The tank traps at Paddys Flat Bridge.

Twenty-six concrete pyramids were cast onsite and connected together by a steel cable in the river. Timber posts were buried in the ground on both banks of the river. This was supposed to stop tanks by lifting them up when the tank hit a pyramid, exposing the undercarriage which could be attacked with machine gun fire.

After the war was over, the pyramids were dragged up on the bank on the southern side of the river. A flood in 2011 exposed the concrete pyramids.

It’s a beautiful spot to stop, by the river with high slopes of trees creating a serene world.

The road, now dirt but well graded, continues through Paddys Flat itself. This is Kyogle LGA. The road goes up and down and at times feels as if I was driving across the mountain tops. The mountains in the distance look majestic and blue – smoky blue, deep blue –the colour couldn’t be captured in a photo, no matter how many I took.

On the hour and a half trip each way, I passed one car.

As the sun dipped below the horizon  of mountains, I forced myself to stop taking pics and head home.

If you’re looking for a Sunday (or any day) drive, take the Paddys Flat road and enjoy the trees, the mountains and the river.

Here are some photos from the drive, a few of them were off the beaten track.

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