Coonabarabran (phew) is the next major town encounted when traveling the Newell Hgy north (or south). Coonabarabran is sited on the banks of the Castlereagh River. This town is quite nice and has a bit going for it. The town is characterised with wide streets and a good feel about the friendly people.
The meaning of the word Coonabarabran is said to probably derive from Kamilaroi language 'gunbaraaybaa' meaning 'shit'. A meaning recorded earlier, 'peculiar odour', is thought to be a bowdlerisation. Another meaning has been said to be that it is the Aboriginal for 'Inquisitive person'. 'Coolabarabran' was the name of a station owned by James Weston in 1848.
Lewis Gordon first proposed a town plan survey for Coonabarabran in 1859 although the area had been opened up by a Government-sponsored expedition in 1817. John Oxley found Aboriginal people living here the following year 1818 — later identified as the western language reach of the Kamilaroi clans (Gamilaraay is the spelling used by linguists). Kamilaroi people are still well represented in the region, having occupied Coonabarabran for approximately 7,500 years.
Coonabarabran is the gateway to the Warrumbungle National Park and the Pilliga Forest. A central feature of the town is the Town Clock which is situated in the middle of town at the intersection of John Street and Dalgarno Street.
Coonabarabran is the closest town to the 3.9-metre Anglo-Australian Telescope, the largest optical telescope in Australia, situated on Siding Spring Mountain. A recent addition to the town was the construction of the World's Largest Virtual Solar System Drive on the roads leading to the observatory.
There is cause to stay awhile and an overnight is recommended.