Shaney hud­son dis­cov­ers Tam­worth is so much more than just the home of coun­try mu­sic.

Holiday with Kids - - Contents -

Shaney Hud­son boot scoots with her baby into Tam­worth’s an­nual Coun­try Mu­sic Fes­ti­val.

It’s bed­time in Tam­worth, but Indy, our 15-month-old, just won’t sleep. I do the pram shuf­fle in the restau­rant foyer, and a man who looks a lit­tle fa­mil­iar moves aside.

“Good luck,” he grins, a kind ges­ture of sol­i­dar­ity from a par­ent who’s been there be­fore. It takes a mo­ment for the penny to drop, but I re­alise it’s Troy Cas­sar-da­ley, one of Tam­worth’s favourite coun­try mu­sic stars, fresh from head­lin­ing a con­cert that af­ter­noon.

Fes­ti­val fan­fare

We’re vis­it­ing Tam­worth for the an­nual Coun­try Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, held over two weeks each Jan­uary. Ar­riv­ing on the week­end, we’re sur­prised by how fam­ily-driven it is, thanks to al­co­hol-free zones in the CBD, free out­door con­certs each evening, bril­liant cor­ro­borees and the much-loved Cav­al­cade street pa­rade, which kicks off with a fly-over by the lo­cal avi­a­tion club.

Fea­tur­ing line danc­ing, stock-whip dis­plays and floats, it’s the horse-drawn carts that draw the most cheers from Indy ... un­til he sees a real-life bright yel­low Toy­ota Hilux Tonka truck (the only one in the world) at the 4WD off-road­ing track.

Golden oldies

Tam­worth is the home of coun­try mu­sic, and the first stop for any vis­i­tor is the Big Golden Gui­tar. Sit­u­ated on the out­skirts of town, the 12-me­tre, 500-kilo­gram icon is our fam­ily of three’s first re­gional “big thing”. We mark the proud mo­ment with a fam­ily photo, des­tined to go straight to the pool room.

While the vis­i­tor cen­tre has a num­ber of signed gui­tars, Peel Street, at the heart of Tam­worth CBD, is filled with buskers jam­ming to coun­try clas­sics. The ban­jos and fid­dles get Indy up and danc­ing, and while we show him how to throw coins in a bucket for the buskers, he doesn’t quite grasp the con­cept, at­tempt­ing a few times to help him­self to the shiny loot. Even­tu­ally, he set­tles down next

to the life-size bronze cast of Smoky Daw­son, one of the many trib­utes to the greats of the in­dus­try lo­cated on the main drag.

Play time

From there, it’s a short walk to the Tam­worth Re­gional Play­ground, which gives me se­ri­ous child­hood play­ground envy. The park here fea­tures a sky­walk, the only one of its kind in the South­ern Hemi­sphere, with gi­ant slides, tow­ers and an octa net to climb up. Along with ded­i­cated se­nior, ju­nior and tod­dler play ar­eas, it’s also an in­clu­sive park, with a wheel­chair-friendly carousel.

Par­ents are catered for as well, with Hop­scotch Restau­rant & Bar of­fer­ing al­limpor­tant cof­fee and restau­rant meals on a shady ter­race in the cen­tre of the play area.

For Indy, the wa­ter play area is king, with both of us hap­pily splash­ing among the bub­bling foun­tains, fol­low­ing wa­ter chan­nels and get­ting drenched.

Sur­pris­ingly, on both vis­its we en­counter kids find­ing their own fun in the boughs of the huge trees, prov­ing that the sim­ple things of­fer the most en­joy­ment.

The high­light of the trip, how­ever, is Tam­worth Mar­su­pial Park. Run by Tam­worth Re­gional Coun­cil and a ded­i­cated team of vol­un­teers, it’s the kind of place where you have to give way to a pea­cock with your pram, a goanna slinks un­der your pic­nic ta­ble dur­ing lunch and a cock­a­too begs for a scratch.

Also home to emus and wal­la­bies in a 14-hectare bush­land set­ting, it has a fan­tas­tic new play area with des­ig­nated over-fives and un­der-fives ar­eas en­cour­ag­ing fine and gross mo­tor skill and imag­i­na­tive play, and Indy hap­pily tuck­ers him­self out on the slides while we rus­tle up lunch on the free bar­be­cues.

With tem­per­a­tures soar­ing, Tam­worth has two pub­lic pools to choose from, but we opt for a dip at our ho­tel, the Qual­ity Ho­tel Pow­er­house. While ren­o­va­tions are set to start this year, we loved the fam­ily rooms with se­cond bed­room (fea­tur­ing two bunks) mean­ing we 01 The Tam­worth Coun­try Mu­sic Fes­ti­val is a fam­ily-driven cel­e­bra­tion 02 Ready for the Cav­al­cade 03 Troy Cas­sar-da­ley is one of the coun­try mu­sic le­gends at the fes­ti­val 04 Tam­worth Re­gional Play­ground fea­tures a wa­ter play area 05 Meet­ing Smoky Daw­son on Peel Street 06 A fam­ily snap with the Big Golden Gui­tar. All im­ages © Chris van Hove

wouldn’t have had to tip­toe around dur­ing nap­time, if Indy had de­cided to sleep!

Get out of town

While Tam­worth is coun­try, you need to get out of the city to get your boots dirty. One of the best vis­tas of Tam­worth is from Ox­ley Look­out, over­look­ing the city and Peel River Val­ley. But drive 20 min­utes south and you can visit one of the state’s most his­toric work­ing cat­tle sta­tions, Goonoo Goonoo.

We bump over grates and drive through fields of black cows that elicit de­lighted squeals. Orig­i­nally a sheep prop­erty, Goonoo Goonoo Sta­tion now runs cat­tle and has built a stun­ning glass-en­cased restau­rant that has be­come a lo­cal favourite for brunch, while the vil­lage has been turned into lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tions.

We grab a cof­fee and let Indy stretch his legs be­fore our long jour­ney home. There’s a cer­tain smell in the air: dirt, hay and an ap­proach­ing storm. The clouds gather, the hu­mid­ity soars and with a crash, a thun­der­storm breaks, send­ing us scur­ry­ing to the car. The drench­ing trans­forms the land­scape, and it’s a chance to see this land anew. It’s all too much for Indy though, who fi­nally, thank­fully, falls asleep.

“We’re sur­prised by how fam­ily-driven the fes­ti­val is, thanks to free out­door con­certs each evening and the muchloved Cav­al­cade street pa­rade.”

Tam­worth Re­port Card

Info The next Tam­worth Coun­try Mu­sic Fes­ti­val will be held 18–27 Jan­uary 2019. tcmf.com.au Get­ting there Tam­worth is a five-hour drive from Syd­ney, a three-hour drive from New­cas­tle and a seven-hour drive from Bris­bane. Stay pow­er­house­tam­worth.com.au Eat hop­scotchrestau­rant.com.au goonoo­goonoo­st­a­tion.com








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