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New England
Autumn trees - New EnglandThe New England region of New South Wales is an area of contrasts; from gorges and rushing rivers in the mountainous country to the east to the fertile agricultural plains of the west; from the heat of the summer sun to the chill of a winter's day on the top of the ranges; from the area's rich Aboriginal history to its murky past as the haunt of bushrangers.

It is a fossicker's paradise, with many precious and semi-precious stones found in the vicinity. There is excellent fishing in the dams, rivers and streams of the area and some of the state's most renowned National Parks and World Heritage areas lie within the New England region.

Climate
With warm, dry summers, colourful autumns, bracing winters and fresh spring weather, the New England Tablelands has four clear seasons in the year. Each season has its own distinct character and lends the landscape a different look.

How do I get there?
Armidale is the centre of the New England region. It is almost equidistant from Brisbane and Sydney and the New England Highway which runs like a backbone along the Tablelands is a popular inland route between the two cities for people who prefer to stay away from the busier coastal road. However those who simply pass through at speed on the highway without stopping are missing one of the most historic and picturesque areas of New South Wales.

It is possible to fly to Armidale. However if you are visiting the region by car, you may well commence your tour on the New England Highway. A side trip along the Fossicker's Way takes you to some lesser-known parts of New England, while the Newell, Gwydir, Kamilaroi and Oxley Highways will help to complete a circular route within the region.

What are the region's main towns and cities?
The major centres of the New England region include: Armidale, Tamworth, Glen Innes, Tenterfield, Inverell, Moree, Narrabri and Gunnedah.

What's there to do in the region?
As you travel the New England Highway from the south, the first city of note is Tamworth, famous for its country music connections. Tune your radio to a local station (it's sure to be country), visit the Country Music Hands of Fame, the Country Music Roll of Renown and the Golden Guitar complex and get into the whole "country" thing.

Further north lies the small town of Uralla. It had its own gold rush in the 1850s but is perhaps best known as the place where notorious "gentleman" bushranger Captain Thunderbolt was shot and killed in 1870. A side trip off the New England Highway will take you to Walcha, where there is a museum and Aboriginal art and craft centre.

Back on the New England Highway, the university city of Armidale is next. It has a wealth of historic buildings, an outstanding regional art gallery, the Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping House and various interesting museums. There are self-guided heritage walking and driving trails of the city. Close by is Oxley Wild Rivers National Park that features waterfalls which are particularly spectacular after rain.

Continuing north, you will come to Guyra, one of the highest towns in NSW, where the local fishing is particularly good, before reaching Glen Innes. Visit the "Australian Standing Stones" which celebrate the town's Celtic connections, the colourfully named "Land of the Beardies History House" which is a fascinating local history museum, the Emmaville Mining Museum and the Cooramah Aboriginal Cultural Centre.

Tenterfield marks the northern border of the New England region. Site of Sir Henry Parkes famous "Federation" speech, the town is surrounded by National Parks including Bald Rock which is the Southern Hemisphere's largest granite monolith. The views from the top are well worth the climb.

Heading inland from Glen Innes along the Gwydir Highway, you come to Inverell. Noted for its sapphires, the surrounding area attracts fossickers. Water sports enthusiasts flock to nearby Pindari and Copeton Dams where they can sail, fish, swim and waterski.

Passing through the agricultural area around Warialda, you reach Moree. This town is famed for its thermal spa baths - the spa complex includes an Olympic size swimming pool.

At Walgett there are also thermal springs at the swimming pool, but the town is best known for its proximity to Lightning Ridge, home of the famed black opal. Visitors can take an underground mine tour or try their luck at designated fossicking areas.

Heading east along the Kamilaroi Highway, you come to Wee Waa, centre of a cotton growing area where you can tour the cotton fields and gins in season. Close by is Narrabri, gateway to rugged Mt Kaputar National Park.

Further east is Gunnedah, home to a large and healthy koala population. The surrounding landscape was immortalised by local Dorothea McKellar in her poem "I love a sunburnt country".

Historic Nundle marks the beginning of the Fossicker's Way, with Manilla, Barraba and Bingara also worth a visit when travelling along the route.


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