THE HIGH COUNTRY IS CALLING
Located along The Great Dividing Range in north-eastern NSW, the New England High Country is a region with many facets. From charming country towns steeped in history and natural wonders that will take your breath away to the gourmet attractions born from this region, you are sure to have an elevating experience. Journey along the winding roads that offer views of the region’s renowned landscapes at every turn, and find fresh adventures all year with four distinct seasons transforming the vistas.
Armidale, New England High Country’s capital and Australia’s most elevated city at 1000 metres above sea level, is located halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, and two hours from the coast. The smaller towns of Glen Innes, Guyra, Inverell, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha each bring their unique flavour and experience to the region.
Delve into the extensive gorge wilderness that winds through the New England High Country, complete with spectacular waterfalls, rainforests and exotic flora and fauna. Climb the giant rock formations, stroll through the rainforests, watch the powerful waterfalls, or camp in the wilderness — there are endless breathtaking views to seek out. And to make it even better, these experiences are accessible to all ages.
New England National Park
The New England High Country is rich with history, and there are plenty of things to discover. Journey through the region and find out more about the inspiring stories of the earliest Aboriginal inhabitants, European explorers, Chinese gold diggers, bushrangers and generations of pastoralists. Visit the stately historic cathedrals and buildings, or dive into the eclectic array of art galleries and museums for a cultural immersion.
With so much to see and do, one of the best ways to truly appreciate the region is to indulge in a road trip and cover all there is to see from Walcha in the south to Tenterfield in the north. New England High Country is where all roads lead, and a new adventure awaits you.
Apsley Falls, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park
PLAN YOUR NEXT ROAD TRIP
No matter how you decide to explore New England High Country, there are plenty of scenic adventures waiting for you.
This beloved route was voted one of the best scenic drives in NSW. From the beaches of Sawtell, just 20 minutes south of Coffs Harbour, this route winds through Bellingen’s lush farmland to the Dorrigo Plateau, before heading onwards to Armidale. Picturesque waterfalls and five national parks are just a few of the sites along this iconic drive. Take a full day to explore it thoroughly, or if you’re short on time, just add Wollomombi Gorge, Point Lookout, Ebor Falls and Dorrigo National Parks to your must-visit list.
If you’re entering the region from the south via Walcha, Thunderbolts Way climbs to 1400m and offers unbeatable vistas of rolling farmland. This 290km route extends from beautiful Gloucester in the midnorth coast, winding over the Great Dividing Range, and ends in Inverell, a picturesque valley town on the Macintyre River.
Bruxner Highway - take it slow and enjoy the ride
Connecting Grafton on the coast and Glen Innes and Inverell where the various national parks cover some 92,400 hectares. Some highlights along the Gwydir Highway include World Heritage-listed Gibraltar Range, Washpool National Park and Raspberry Lookout, the latter of which offers breathtaking views of the gorge country.
One of Australia’s most famous motorcycling routes, the Oxley Highway stretches from Port Macquarie to Walcha. Visit the magnificent World Heritage listed national parks that adorn this winding road and be sure to stop and see both the Tia and Apsley Falls.
A route to take slow and steady, the Bruxner Highway begins in the NSW Northern Rivers region before winding up through the Great Dividing Range and heading west to Tenterfield. Overall, the Bruxner Highway climbs over 800 metres and will lead its travellers through farmlands, rolling hills, quaint villages and woodland forests. Sit back and enjoy the views as you cross over the Clarence River and drive alongside the Cataract River and Gorge.
Captain Thunderbolt’s grave, Uralla, Thunderbolts Way
A CULTURAL EXPERIENCE
From award-winning art galleries and bespoke museums to antique shops and charming bookstores, New England High Country has many heritage, arts and cultural offerings to fascinate any and all visitors.
• Get the Soundtrails App and listen to the audio-recorded stories and histories of Tenterfield, Inverell, Uralla, Walcha and Armidale for an immersive experience as you explore the trails.
• View the ever-growing collection of sculptures and public art completed by renowned artists at Walcha’s Open Air Gallery, or head back in time at Walcha Pioneer Cottage and Museum.
• The award-winning McCrossin’s Mill Museum in Uralla is home to an eclectic collection of early Australian memorabilia.
• While visiting Armidale, add the historic Saumarez Homestead, the Aboriginal Cultural Centre and the New England Regional Art Museum to your to-do list.
• The Pioneer Village and National Transport Museum in Inverell will lead you back to a bygone era. Or see the masters at work at the New England Woodturning and Sculptures in Gilgai, where visitors can also view a range of Australian-made digeridoos and unique oddgeridoos.
• Delve into Glen Innes’ history at The Land of Beardies History House Museum, or for an artistic pursuit visit Gawura Gallery the home of internationally acclaimed Aboriginal artist Lloyd Gawura Hornsby.
• Appreciate Tenterfield’s local artisans at Make It Tenterfield and the Artists’ Collective Studio and visit the Tenterfield Saddler that was immortalised in song by Peter Allen.
McCrossin’s Mill Museum, Uralla
• Waterfall Way
Only a 1-hour drive from Armidale. Wind your way through spectacular gorges, waterfalls and World Heritage national parks, including Oxley Wild Rivers, Cathedral Rock, Guy Fawkes and the New England National Park.
• New England Regional Art Museum
One of regional NSW’s leading art tourism destinations, the New England Regional Art Museum boasts a $42 million collection of over 5000 works of historical, modern and contemporary art.
• Saumarez Homestead
Join a guided tour through the White family’s Edwardian mansion and expansive gardens, including a stunning heritage rose garden.
• Armidale Heritage Bus Tour
A 2.5-hour taster tour of Armidale that includes some of Armidale’s finest heritage buildings. The tour departs at 10am Monday–Saturday, leaving from the Visitor Information Centre, and bookings are essential: 02 6770 3888.
• Art, Wine and Waterfalls
Tourist Drive 19 is a lovely scenic drive that encompasses the New England Regional Art Museum, Petersons Winery, Dangars Gorge and the town of Uralla.
Armidale Visitor Information Centre
82 Marsh Street, Armidale NSW 2350
P: 02 6770 3888
Cathedral Rock National Park
• World Heritage Gibraltar Range and Washpool National Parks
Outdoor adventurers will fall in love with the combined 80km of scenic trails, ideal for hiking, mountain biking and birdwatching. Visitors can also enjoy kayaking and canoeing.
• Australian Standing Stones
The national monument was officially opened in 1992 and honours Celtic people, both past and present. The stones are home to many celebrations throughout the year, including the annual Australian Celtic Festival in May.
• Scenic Country Drive
Take Tourist Drive 11, a picturesque loop through lush New England farmland, departing from Glen Innes and passing through the smaller historic villages of Emmaville and Deepwater.
• Take a Heritage Tour
Glen Innes boasts over 60 heritage buildings in its town centre. Download the Heritage Walk brochure or pick up a copy from the visitor centre to discover their history and stories.
• Boutique Shopping and Country Hospitality
Glen Innes is home to a range of boutique stores, cafes, restaurants and pubs that showcase the best of the town’s local produce and welcoming hospitality.
Glen Innes Visitor Information Centre
152 Church Street, Glen Innes NSW 2370
P: 02 6730 2400
Celtic experience at the Australian Standing Stones, Glen Innes
• National Transport Museum
Discover over 100 years of transport in Australia with exhibits from around the nation.
• Inverell Pioneer Village
Be transported back in time by the authentic buildings of the village that represent the lifestyle of Australia’s European settlers.
• Copeton Dam
Copeton Dam is an angler’s paradise and is one of the two inland waterways in NSW with no closed season on Murray cod. Set up camp and reset in the tranquil natural haven.
• Blair Athol Day Spa
Enjoy the 10.5m mineralrich pool and six-person spa inspired by the Roman bathhouses, as well as massage suites, stunning views, delicious homemade food and beverages for a complete luxury experience.
With options for beginners and seasoned fossickers alike, try your hand at fossicking for one of the deep blue sapphires for which Inverell is famous. Other crystals, gems and minerals are also available.
Inverell Visitor Information Centre
13-35 Campbell Street,
P: 02 6728 8161
Fossicking in Inverell
• Bald Rock
Dare to climb the southern hemisphere’s largest exposed granite monolith and you will be rewarded with magnificent 360-degree views over the surrounding bushland.
• Tenterfield Saddler
The Tenterfield Saddler operated for over 100 years and was immortalised by Tenterfieldborn Aussie legend, Peter Allen, in his song Tenterfield Saddler. The saddlery was also regularly visited by Banjo Patterson during his time in Tenterfield during the early 1900s.
• Tenterfield’s Rich History and Heritage
Visit Sir Henry Parkes School of Arts Museum, Tenterfield Railway Museum and Centenary Cottage Museum to explore this town’s history. Download the Soundtrails app for an immersive audio experience set to your own pace (allow around one hour).
• Mount Mackenzie Drive and Lookout
Mount Mackenzie Drive will take you past marvellous Granite Country formations including Doctors Nose, Little Bald Rock and Draining Rock. For a full experience, pack a picnic to enjoy at Mount Mackenzie Lookout.
• Boutique Shops, Cafes, Restaurants and Country Clubs
Taste your way around the region as you discover local food, wine, beer and other delicacies.
Tenterfield Visitor Information Centre
157 Rouse Street, Tenterfield NSW 2372
P: 02 6736 1082
Tenterfield transforms into an autumnal wonderland
• Heritage Walk, Soundtrail and Aniwan Cultural Collection
Take a tour through historic Uralla and listen to local characters and stories as you walk around town. View the Aniwan Cultural Collection at the Visitor Information Centre to view rare and ancient artefacts and stories donated by Aniwan Elders and members of the community.
• Bulagaranda (Mount Yarrowyck) Aboriginal Area
Explore the ancient rock art site in Bulagaranda, 25km north-west of Uralla on Aniwan country. The Aboriginal rock art site is accessed via a 3km-return walk from the carpark.
• McCrossin’s Mill Museum and Function Centre
Visit the award-winning museum that features everything from Captain Thunderbolt to early machinery, a history of local gold mining and Australia’s first world champion, the rower Ned Trickett.
• Dangars Falls, Lagoons and Bird Watching
Enjoy the natural paradise of New England High Country with short and long walking trails and bird watching all easily accessible. Maps and assistance can be found at the Visitor Information Centre.
• Breweries, Wineries, Distilleries and Eateries
Visit one of Uralla’s many unique distilleries, wineries or breweries. Or tantalise your tastebuds with the local produce, such as fresh goat cheese from Sunhill Dairy, seasonal fruit from the historic Greenhills Orchard that was established in 1865, or lose yourself among the many cafes, bakeries, pubs and restaurants that call this town home.
Uralla Visitor Information Centre
104 Bridge Street, Uralla NSW 2358
P: 02 6778 6420
Armidale’s heritage-listed Post Office
- Apsley Falls, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park
The awe-inspiring Apsley Falls are one of the must-see and most accessible waterfalls in the New England region, located just 19km east of Walcha. Suitable for all vehicles and caravans, with an all-sealed access, the magnitude of the gorge with its impressive sheer faced cliffs is truly breathtaking.
- Walcha’s Open Air Gallery
A gallery of permanent sculpture by renowned local, national and international artists, Walcha’s Open Air Gallery is a crowd-pleaser in the Australian art scene. A brochure and map are available at www.walchansw.com.au or Walcha Information Centre.
- Walcha Sculpture Soundtrail
Complementing the Open Air Gallery of sculptures and artworks. This highly original sound walk takes you into the heart of the towns Open Air Gallery with stories from contributing artists, local indigenous identities and other people in the community. Download the Soundtrails App or visit www.sountrails.com.au
- Tia Falls, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park
The spectacular Tia Falls cascade down the face of the gorge in two main drops. Both are visible from the one lookout a short walk (650m) from the carpark. Explore a little further to be rewarded with a different aspect of the gorge; open, vast and spectacular scenery.
- Pioneer Cottage and Museum
Step back in time in this well thought out display of yesterday’s relics and industrial revolutions. From bespoke teacups made for men with moustaches to the Tigermoth aeroplane which was the first in Australia to spread fertilizer by air. Open weekends. Entry at other times by request.
Walcha Visitor Information Centre
29W Fitzroy Street, Walcha NSW 2354
P: 02 6774 2460
Walcha Open Air Gallery
DISTILLERIES, WINERIES AND BREWERIES
As you explore the picturesque roads and unique towns and villages, tempt your tastebuds with some of New England High Country’s locally produced artisan beers, boutique spirits and cool climate wines.
Petersons Armidale Winery; The Welder’s Dog Brewery; Great Hops Brewing Co
Topper’s Mountain Wines
Reedy Creek Estate; Zappa Wines; 2Wild Souls Meadery; Splitters Swamp Vineyard
Deepwater Brewing; Glen Gowrie Distillery
New England Brewing; Dobson’s Distillery; Merilba Estate Wines.
Deepwater Brewing, Deepwater
A NATURAL PARADISE
From climbing giant rock formations to exploring rainforests and taking in the powerful waterfalls, New England High Country has it all.
There are 20 national parks sprinkled throughout the region, and six have gained World-Heritage status, including Oxley Wild Rivers, Gibraltar Range, Washpool, Tooloom, Koreelah and New England National Park.
Explore the abundance of waterfalls found throughout these national parks. The iconic falls not to be missed on your visit include Apsley and Tia Falls east of Walcha, Wollomombi Gorge and Ebor Falls along Waterfall Way, Dangars Gorge south-east of Armidale and Boonoo Boonoo Falls near Tenterfield.
For views you won’t forget, head to one of the many spectacular lookouts, such as Raspberry Lookout east of Glen Innes and Point Lookout in the New England National Park. Or for the more daring, a climb up Cathedral Rock near Ebor or Bald Rock near Tenterfield will deliver unbeatable views of either unique granite outcrops or broad vistas of the surrounding wilderness.
The region is a mountain biker’s paradise
Easy accessibility is one of the major drawcards of New England High Country’s attractions, with well maintained walking tracks leading visitors from the carpark to the lookouts, waterfalls or views of gorges.
Put on your walking shoes and head to one of the many bushwalks, which range from short tramps to multi-day hikes. For the serious hikers, the Green Gully Track, New England Wilderness Walk or Washpool World Heritage Walk might be right down your alley.
The mountain biking tracks through Washpool, Bald Rock, Boonoo Boonoo and Basket Swap national parks are well worth a visit. For a truly unique way to see the region, try out the Bicentennial Trail. This is suitable for both mountain bikers and horse riders.
Take part in a piece of the region’s history and try your hand at fossicking in the rivers around Uralla and Glen Innes. Fossicking is an age old pastime in New England High Country, with Inverell supplying 75% of the world’s sapphire market during the boom of the 1970s. Visit Emmaville Mining Museum to view more than 4000 gem and mineral specimens and displays of the old mines. Anglers can enjoy fishing for rainbow and brown trout, which thrive in the lightly fished streams and purposebuilt dams throughout the region. Three times the size of Sydney Harbour, Copeton Dam is one of the only inland waterways that has no closed season on Murray cod.
Bald Rock, Bald Rock National Park
Tags: cmca new england high country armidale thunderbolts way nsw walcha NSW high country drives new england highway uralla mount mackenzie gwydir highway bruxner highway waterfall way heritage bus tour new england university of new england UNE glen innes emmaville mining museum inverell tenterfield the tenterfield saddler glen innes town hall balancing rock
Written: Wed 01 Feb 2023
Printed: February, 2023