Tamworth may be known as Australia’s country music capital, and it comes with plenty of swagger. But the town also has an exciting cosmopolitan side when it comes to innovative restaurants, cafes and bars.
Where to wine & dine
Occupying a grand 1848 building, The Pig and Tinder Box was one of the first pubs in the New England region. Today it’s a casual yet classy eatery, serving modern Australian fare with Asian overtones – there’s a menu section dedicated to share plates, so bring your friends.
Within the Powerhouse Hotel, The Workshop Kitchen unites a slick design with a buzzing open kitchen. Timeless cuisine with a modern twist is the name of the food game, from breakfast through dinner.
Meanwhile, The Glasshouse at Goonoo Goonoo Station is the definition of destination dining. The setting, on immense Goonoo Goonoo Station, is as impeccable as the food, which takes inspiration from the seasons and your surrounds.
Where to enjoy cheap eats
Spilt Milk Bar will put a smile on your face thanks to its more-ish range of gelato flavours made using all natural, and all Australian, ingredients. There are all the usual hits, as well as indulgent blends like peanut butter waffle, and Bailey’s coffee cream. If you’re after something more substantial – but great value for money – head to Burger Bulls, where fillings range from beef, chicken and lamb to vegetarian and vegan, plus specialty burgers for the kids.
Where to get a caffeine fix
When it comes time to refuel and start your heart in the morning, it’s hard to look past Hissy Fits. This unpretentious café makes the classics well, but mixes things up with specials like Vietnamese coffee, bulging breakfast burritos and half-a-dozen burgers. Sonny’s Bakery & Café meets the brief of making delicious bread and coffee to a tee. But you can also pick up fantastic housemade pies and sausage rolls, cakes and pastries, salads and sandwiches.
Camp Grounds Coffee Shop uses specialty beans from Aussie roasters in its brews. Pair your drink of choice with loaded bagels and toasties, muffins and cake – there are also treats for pooch on the menu. Humble Espresso is a local favourite, known for its decadent daily brunch specials, whether strawberry pancakes or hot honey and chilli scrambled eggs.
Where to grab a beer
Touring Tamworth can be thirsty work. Thankfully, there are plenty of places to whet your whistle. Start at The Welder’s Dog, a craft brewery that began in nearby Armidale and now has a popular outlet in Tamworth. The range of beers and hard lemonade on tap is impressive, and you can add on a bite from the grab-and-go fridge.
The Press is about as cool as basement whisky and cocktail bars go, tucked in a dimly lit space with plenty of character – think vintage 1920s decor, with modern flair. The 40-minute drive to Nundle is worth it to have a drink at the Peel Inn Hotel, an 1860s gold rush pub with a shady outdoor seating area. Descend for lunch or dinner, or linger in one of the hotel rooms. The beer garden at the 1881-built Top Pub in Uralla is also a great day trip. Don't miss the New England Brewing Company. for a fine selection of craft beers while in town.
Where to go wine tasting
Tamworth is part of the acclaimed New England Wine Region, known for its cool climate drops. About 20 minutes outside of Tamworth is Blickling Estate, which covers 1,800 hectares of beautiful vineyards, lavender farms and eucalyptus plantations. Further northeast in Uralla, drop into cellar doors and vineyard restaurants at Merilba Estate and Eastview Estate.
Linger longer in the region and head just over an hour north to the Glen Innes area and drop into Topper's Mountain Wines to try a number of exciting alternative varieties at the rustic cellar door, which is prettily surrounded by state forest.
Where to try local produce
With the Liverpool Plains around Gunnedah and Quirindi, and New England High Country vineyards around Uralla, the Tamworth region is one of Australia’s richest agricultural areas. Local produce is showcased at farmers markets around the district and the 10-day Taste Tamworth Festival in April is a drawcard.
The annual one-day Seasons of New England Expo in March celebrates the region’s producers, including wineries, distilleries and breweries, with stalls and live music. The , also in March, is another delightfully delicious day out with the option of a two-course catered picnic lunch and boutique stalls.
You’ll find farm-fresh produce in many local venues. DECO Wine Bar & Restaurant has a modern Australian menu in chic surroundings, SSS BBQ Barns claims to serve up the best steak in Tamworth and Graze, near Quirindi, has its own dry-ageing room for succulent beef and lamb reared on Colley Creek pastures.
Where to pick up take-home treats
Tamworth and the surrounding towns are full of gourmet and specialty stores, such as Odgers and McClelland and Nundle District Craft Inc, where you can purchase unique cooking supplies and homemade cakes, pies and preserves. Take home another taste of the region by catching your own rainbow trout at the Arc-en-Ciel Trout Farm.