After a relaxing few hours on the NSW TrainLink train from Sydney, passing a picturesque landscape of gently undulating farmland, you’ll arrive in Tamworth, a vibrant regional town renowned for its warm hospitality and country music. Nestled in the state’s northwest it also makes an ideal base for exploring the surrounding countryside. To get the most out of your visit, a car is essential. Collect a GoGet or other hire car on arrival, and start planning your stay.
Begin your Saturday by visiting the Tamworth Grower’s Markets which offers fresh organic produce, and have a yarn with the locals. After stocking up on provisions for a picnic hamper, set out on your drive for the day.
Heading north you’ll arrive at Gunnedah, a charming country town with wide streets lined with cafes, pubs, craft and antique shops. At Barraba, admire the giant 40-metre high mural of the water diviner painted on silos. Continue to the quaint township of Manilla, before heading back along a picturesque country road, past farms with barely another car in sight. Finish your day with a drive to Oxley Scenic Lookout for spectacular sunset views across Tamworth.
Next day discover the historic township of Uralla, with a sculpture trail, cafes, craft shops, and a treasure trove found in the many antique shops offering bric-a-brac, jewellery and antique furniture. Alternatively visit Lake Keepit State Park. At three quarters the size of Sydney Harbour, this vast shimmering expanse of water provides a habitat for birdlife including cockatoos.
While all drives are scenic, the most renowned is Tourist Drive 17 which winds through World Heritage-listed national parks, with spectacular gorges, waterfalls and wildlife to enjoy. Highlights include Tara Gorge and Wollomombi Falls in the Oxley Rivers National Park, Point Lookout in the New England National Park, the massive boulders in Cathedral Rock National Park, Ebor Falls and Warrabah National Park.
A short drive from Tamworth is the charming historic village of Nundle, sited at the base of the Great Dividing Range, with antique shops and the Nundle Woollen Mill, with spun wool for sale. Nearby at Hanging Rock lookout, take in expansive views of the region.
A thriving agricultural industry provides some of the country’s finest produce, with outstanding farm to plate dining, where you can sample local produce as well as visiting over 20 vineyards.
In Tamworth, you’ll experience a vibrant dining scene from Indian to Asian, cafes and pub food. Head for tree-lined Peel Street with the Pig and Tinder offering great coffee, try Hot Pot at the Tamworth Vietnamese Restaurant and drop by the Garden Shed, a delightful cafe with plants and gifts for sale.
There is also a dynamic cultural scene, home to the 12-metre high Big Golden Guitar that is a must-do photo stop. Tamworth was where country music artists from Keith Urban to Slim Dusty performed, and while it’s famous as Australia’s capital of country music, with an annual festival and the Country Music Hall of Fame, take time to visit the Tamworth Regional Gallery with an impressive collection of art by local artists.
You’ll appreciate that Tamworth is in country NSW from the shops that sell Australian bush products, from leather hats to ornately stitched riding boots. Peel back the layers of history to discover that Tamworth was the first city to install electric street lighting, was close to where the dramatic showdown occurred with the bushranger known as Captain Thunderbolt, and recognise the traditional custodians of the land, the Indigenous people of the Kamilaroi Nation. Acknowledge the sense of place, recognise its past, and feel connected to country.
For more information www.visitnsw.com/feelnew