Nimmitabel – a quaint town located on the Great Dividing Range

Sometimes you get an urge to take a drive, and sometimes you act on that urge. Two months ago, it was one of those ‘sometimes’ moment. We hopped into bumblebee and took a short road trip that saw us driving from Canberra to Nimmitabel, a quaint town located 1,070 metres above sea level.

Situated on the Great Dividing Range and on the top ten list of the highest towns in Australia, this country town made for an interesting visit. Light fluffy snow fell on our windscreen a little over an hour into our journey, the road ahead of us stretched as far as the eye could see and the landscape on either side was wide open and arid. In it’s own way, serene and beautiful.

What were we going to do in Nimmitabel? To be honest, we didn’t have a plan, however, somewhere near Cooma, we did a Google search as you always do and found that there were some interesting buildings to view and perhaps some room for more pie? If you remember we had just got back from a pie rendezvous. Anyhow, the almighty search engine claimed that the township is know by many a driver as a common pit stop to grab a bite, even a pie or two, at the local bakery.

So there, we had a plan, it set us on a path. We turned up our seat warmers and drove onwards to our intended destination. Some forty-five minutes in and as Pharrell William’s ‘Happy’ was just about to end, the straight road ahead of us started to take a bend and as we travelled the full of it’s curve, a bright mustard building greeted us!


Like the warm sun hitting your face, the striking facade of the Federal Hotel welcomed us. It was all the sign you needed to know that you had reached Nimmitabel. We parked across from the hotel and set out on foot. Built around the 1890s, the hotel is in it’s original form, survived five fires and the test of time. It has 35 rooms and a whole lot of history which you can read here.

Further down the street, you’ll meet a large Indian elephant and just like the elephants of Rajasthan, the sculpture is draped in jewellery. It was quite odd finding a life size elephant sculpture on a sleepy street but hey, it made for an interesting find! It actually belongs to the bakery where we had planned to have pies. But instead of pie, we ended up buying merino wool gloves at the local convenience store that acts as a wool produce store, lolly shop and offers postal services as well.

The old flour mill on Clarke Street (1865-72) was our next stop. Built by a German settler named John Geldmacher, who also owned a store and other town allotments ran the mill on horse power due to the fear that the mill fans would frighten passing horses. The plaque outside the mill tells a tale if you have the time for a quick read. With a bright blue door, inviting you in, the mill made for some lovely Instagram pictures.

Then there’s the story of the Nimmity Bell, which was quite amusing to read. Shipped all the way from America, the brass bell weighs 1.8 tonnes and was made in New York in the 1920s. Despite the effort to get the bell, it hasn’t been hung yet due to a few concerned residents who worry about the bell being overly rung, potentially, by an inebriated person on their way home from the pub. Well maybe the township of Nimmitabel could consider hanging it somewhere else? *wink*

Rosemarie John and Joseph Ellis

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