|Armidale - Inverell|
|The Heart of New England|
This continuation of our New England Highway trip takes you into the heart of this cool upland region - to the historic university city of Armidale, Celtic-flavour Glen Innes, and the ‘Sapphire City’ of Inverell.
From Tamworth, the undisputed ‘Country Music Capital of Australia’, the highway leads north-east towards Armidale, but there is an optional side-trip along the Oxley Highway to Walcha, home to an interesting Aboriginal cultural centre and an annual rodeo held in January, and the gateway to two dramatic national parks.
After passing through Uralla - once the stamping ground of notorious bushranger Captain Thunderbolt - the New England Highway brings you to the genteel city of Armidale. There’s a great deal to do here, and you’ll need a couple of days to pack everything in! Sightseeing suggestions are the excellent New England Regional Art Museum, the Aboriginal Cultural Centre, the University of New England and the area’s Heritage Walk and Drive. Out of town, you can visit New England National Park and spectacular Dangars Gorge and Falls.
The road then leads up to Guyra, the ‘Top of the Range’ at 1320m, and eventually to Glen Innes. Dubbed the ‘Land of the Beardies’ after two early settlers, this agricultural town offers numerous attractions. There is a Celtic monument here, as well as a pottery, glassworks and museum, and the area is home to several reserves and national parks.
Glen Innes is also the ideal base for exploring the surrounding region - to the east lie Washpool and Gibraltar Range National Parks, while the Gwydir Highway takes you west to Inverell. This area is full of mining sites and memorabilia: you can fossick for sapphires and garnets, visit the mining museum, and watch precious stones being turned into jewellery.
Where to Stay
Time required: 3-4 days minimum