We welcome you to the Kamilaroi Highway, a journey that will take you from the mountains to the plains, through Gomeroi Country. - Jason Allen, Gamilaroi Man Walhallow
Named after the traditional owners, the sealed Highway links the Hunter Valley with Outback NSW. This 600-kilometre journey begins just across the Great Dividing Range at Willow Tree, before following the course of the Namoi River as it makes its way toward the Darling River then on to Bourke. This is the agricultural heartland of NSW, growing everything from wheat and cotton to sunflowers and sorghum. Attractions of these lands range from the sight of giant combine harvesters travelling through acres of grain to mountain vistas and Dorothea Mackellar’s “sunburnt plains”. The journey passes through many attractive towns such as Bourke, Brewarrina, Walgett, Lightning Ridge, Narrabri, Gunnedah, Quirindi and Willow Tree.
The Kamilaroi is made up of numerous communities and bands that have occupied the regions of north-western New South Wales for many centuries and according to Kamilaroi tradition, ever since the Dreaming. The people within these communities all spoke very similar dialects, each a variety of Kamilaroi. The word Kamilaroi or Gamilaraay comes from the Kamilaroi language, gamil, meaning “no” and araay meaning “having”.
Aboriginal occupation of the area was always focused along major water sources and generally radiated outwards. There were many independent Kamilaroi communities consisting of approximately 150 people which occupied well-defined lands; an area within which they may gather and hunt food. Neighbouring communities were not welcome within another’s territory unless invited or for a specific gathering.
The Kamilaroi are understood to have felt spiritually connected to their “country” and to have employed land management systems to actively ensure that the resources used to survive would be available indefinitely. These land management systems were linked to the Kamilaroi’s social organization.