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Published December 26th 2012
Donnelly's Castle, a large collection of granite boulders at Poziers, near Stanthorpe, was once a secret lookout for the bushranger, Captain Thunderbolt. A popular spot for rock-climbing enthusiasts, bushwalkers and picnickers, Donnelly's Castle offers wonderful views of the orchards and surrounding landscape.
Walking through one of the Granite Mazes at Donnelly's Castle
Fred Ward, aka Captain Thunderbolt infamously travelled between Tamworth to Bourke and around the Granite Belt in the 1860s. Reputably a gentleman bushranger, he robbed numerous mail coaches, inns, stores and stations, but was very polite about the interactions. He was a mysterious character, living a secluded lifestyle and robbing isolated spots randomly. Thunderbolt was eventually hunted down and shot by the police in 1870 near Urella. Within his 'territory', there are a variety of hideouts bearing his namesake or linked to his escapades and years of searching at each have not turned up any hidden treasures or loot.
Donnelly's Castle has a mixture of local stories surrounding it, including it as the campsite of the fearsome Yowie, an aboriginal dreamtime fearsome creature who preyed on lone children. A huge painted representation can be found on the side of a cave deep within the maze of granite. The boulders form alleys and tunnels, which may be frightening for some people exploring the site and gives rise to 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' style stories.
The formation can be circumnavigated easily in 20 minutes. The bushland surrounding it is a gentle hillside with the opportunity to see kangaroos and birdlife.
There are no marked pathways, but visitors can clearly see where others have tramped around the boulders; this making it an exciting adventure for children. It is overgrown in places and care needs to be taken especially in Spring and Autumn for snakes.
The short climb to the top of one of the boulders has stairs cemented into the side and made safe for younger children with a secure fence line around the edges. Most fitness levels will be able to successfully ascend to the top, though it is not wheelchair accessible. For the more adventurous, the series of granite monoliths offers a variety bouldering opportunities, with obvious ledges, low and high balls ranging from V 0 to V 10.
Donnelly's Castle is a public reserve maintained by the local Rotary club. The facilities are very basic, but the carpark is mown regularly and woodpile for BBQ replenished. There are a few picnic tables, BBQ plates and environmental toilets. Visitors are advised to bring their own toilet paper, water and wood as well as to take their rubbish with them.
Although the secluded spot is just off the main tourist track, it is relatively unknown even to locals. Poziers is an easy two hour drive south from Brisbane. To find Donnellys castle from Thulimbah, turn off the highway at the Big Apple and down Amiens Rd. Follow the bitumen road for about 9 km, turn left onto Donnelly's Castle Rd and follow for 4 km until you see the sign for Donnelly's Castle. The last few KM are a solid though dirt road.
More information about the area can be gained from the Tourist Board in Stanthorpe on 07 4681 2057 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org