More than just the country music capital, the north-west NSW city of Tamworth is a vibrant centre for the spectacular surrounding countryside, with great local produce, up-close wildlife encounters and cultural sights that will keep visitors of all ages entertained.
The Pacific Highway, hugging the NSW east coast, has traditionally been the most favoured route for families driving between Sydney and Brisbane. But the rural landscapes and historic towns along the New England Highway are well worth exploring. Here are 6 great reasons to take the inland route on your next family holiday and enjoy a perfect pit stop in the heart of the region - Tamworth.
1 It’s the buzzing centre of beautiful New England
With spectacular natural surrounds and quaint historic towns, the New England region is a destination in itself. To the south of Tamworth lies the former gold mining town of Nundle where you can try you hand at gold panning, then take a stroll around the waters of nearby Sheba Dams, renowned for its rainbow trout fishing and birdlife. Go bushwalking along the trails of Warrabah National Park and visit beautiful Horton Falls, or soak up the sweeping views from the Hanging Rock Lookout.
2 Tamworth’s culture is more than just country music
Tamworth is synonymous with country music, and the annual Country Music Festival - Australia’s largest music festival - is held here each January. But if country music isn’t your thing, never fear! This town has more than its fair share of fantastic family-friendly cultural attractions to discover.
A walk down Peel Street, the heart and soul of Tamworth, will take you past many of the city’s beautiful 19th century buildings, including the Post Office and the Federation-style Rocks on Peel. Grab a Tamworth Heritage Walk map from the visitor’s centre to guide you around town – the kids will love the mural artwork along the mosaic pillars, bringing the region’s history to colourful life.
Don’t miss a visit to the Tamworth Regional Gallery (one of the oldest galleries in NSW) where the Kid’s Art Trail will engage little ones, or check out the steam engines at the Tamworth Powerstation Museum celebrating this city as the first to be lit by municipal street lighting back in 1888.
And if you want a little taste of country music fever, head to the Big Golden Guitar standing outside the tourist centre on the outskirts of town. There’s also a country music-inspired wax museum, or you can take a wander through beautiful Bicentennial Park where busts of some of Australia’s most legendary country musicians line the walkways.
3 Let loose at the Tamworth Regional Playground
Anyone who’s travelled with kids will know there is nothing like an innovative playground where they can let off some steam while sightseeing. Opened in 2015, the Tamworth Regional Playground in Bicentennial Park boasts sand pits, zip lines, tunnel slides and climbing structures, as well as a splash pad wetzone and a soft fall area just for little ones, and you can grab a coffee and relax at the adjacent Hopscotch Restaurant and Bar.
4 Get up-close with the local wildlife
Tamworth Marsupial Park combines a hands-on wildlife experience with an Adventure Playground designed by the local kids. The playground is divided into an area for under 5s and an older children’s area (with a native animal theme throughout) with free bbqs, perfect for a picnic.
Meander along the bush walking trails of the Marsupial Park and hand- feed kangaroos, get upclose to native birds in the free flight aviary, and explore the nearby botanical gardens.
If your kids are into horse riding (or want to give it a try), explore the magnificent Cockburn Ranges on scenic horse rides with Kootingal Horse Riding Adventures (and their local cowboy guides!) They cater to all experience levels (even if you’ve never ridden before) and they also offer pony rides for younger children.
5 Sample Tamworth’s gourmet goods
Tamworth’s lush countryside yields an abundance of fresh produce, meats, fish and cheeses (as well as cool climate wines that will appeal to mums and dads!) Take a leisurely 90 minute drive to New England Cheese in Nowedoc to sample their multi-award winning cheeses and yoghurts (visit at milking time!), and don’t miss the opportunity to feast on a trout tasting plate at the Arc-En- Ciel Trout Farm at Hanging Rock on the way back. The children will love seeing the farm in operation and have a chance to touch the slippery fingerlings in their large tanks.
VisitTamworth’s Saturday organic market at the French restaurant, Le Pruneau, or wander the Peel Street Markets on a Sunday morning where home grown produce is sold alongside handmade arts and crafts. You’ll find plenty of fantastic cafes and restaurants including Ruby’s Cafe & Gift Store, a regular meeting spot for local families with a vintage playground at the back. If you’re serious about food, time your visit to coincide with the annual Taste Tamworth festival, held each April, where the region’s artisan producers, gourmet growers and top restaurants showcase their wares across ten event-packed days.
6 Bunk down at family friendly accommodation
As the setting for one of Australia’s biggest music festivals, it’s no wonder Tamworth has a great selection of accommodation, and when it comes to family- friendly options, the tranquil setting of Paradise Tourist Park, on the Peel River, ticks all the right boxes. With accommodation to suit all budgets and style of travellers - powered caravan sites, cabins and luxury villas - plus a playground, swimming pool and recreation hall, Paradise Tourist Park is just a short walk from Tamworth city centre.
So what are you waiting for? Bundle up the family and hit the road to Tamworth to discover for yourselves just what the ‘ buzz’ is all about!
Previous page: Best friends Nundle Woollen Mills Playground Above: New England Cheese Opposite page from top left: Tamworth and Kootingal Horse Riding Adventures Arc-en-Ciel trout farm Tamworth, BIG4 Paradise Tourist Park