Glen Innes

There’s a lot to love about Glen Innes, sitting pretty in the New England High Country of NSW. The charming town is ringed by World Heritage rainforest, hosts a raucous annual Celtic festival, and is part of the region’s Fossickers Way touring route, paying homage to its gold- and gem-rush history.  



Highland heritage 

The New England countryside around Glen Innes is lush – all rolling green fields and World Heritage-listed forest. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear you were in the Scottish Highlands – there’s even a castle. Small wonder that European settlers also saw the connection, and named the area the Glen Innes Highlands in tribute of its likeness.  

Autumn colours along the New England Highway near Glen Innes, Country NSW

New England Highway, Glen Innes

This Celtic connection is honoured every May at the Australian Celtic Festival in May, a highlight of the events calendar. Thousands of people flock to Glenn Innes to witness bagpipers parading down the town’s streets, with up to 20 clans representing the six Celtic nations accounted for. Expect Celtic dancing, live music, highland games and medieval re-enactments.  

Standing stone sign reading 'Celtic Country' welcoming visitors, Glen Innes

Townscapes, Glen Innes

The ties to Scotland are also celebrated at the Australian Standing Stones monument, where enormous stones are arranged as a calendar incorporating the Celtic cross and Southern Cross into design.   

Step back in time 

Glen Innes is one of the stops on the Fossickers Way touring route, which also takes in Barraba, Inverell, Tamworth and Armidale, among other New England towns that were in their heyday during the gold and gem rushes of the 1800s – small wonder the region is known as ‘gemstone country’. Along sun-dappled roads there are plenty of places to pause and fossick for gold, gem and crystals. Pick up a fossicking map from the Glen Innes Visitor Information Centre, and try your luck searching for precious and semiprecious stones. 

Woman fossicks for gemstones in Reddestone Creek, Glen Innes

Fossicking, Glen Innes

Find more gems at the Minerama Fossicking, Gem and Jewellery Show in March, the largest of its kind in NSW. Between stalls selling gleaming wares you’ll find workshops and demonstrations, fun activities for kids, and delicious food and drinks. 

The region’s history is also on display at the Emmaville Mining Museum, packed with artefacts from yesteryear. As well as the Land of Beardies History House Museum, a folk museum with a strong collection dedicated to the heritage of the Glenn Innes Highlands.  

New England locals are a creative bunch, and their works are in the spotlight thanks to Arts North West Connect, which has established a series of Country Art Escapes cultural tours. Explore the artist studios, galleries, museums and other cultural venues and experiences of this beautiful and diverse region. Follow one of the suggested Arts North West Connect tours or create your own art trail. Another trail you can follow links the more than 30 heritage-listed buildings throughout the town of Glen Innes.  

The historic Glen Innes town hall built 1887 in Glen Innes, Country NSW

Glen Innes Town Hall, Glen Innes

Rainforests & walking trails

Much of the forest in northern NSW is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, including the glorious Washpool National Park. This is a place of steep gorges, clear waters and magnificent tracts of ancient forest. Needless to say, it’s a haven for flora and fauna, home to the once-thought-to-be-extinct parma wallaby, the pouched frog, long-nosed potoroo and spotted-tail quoll, among other animals.  

There are numerous hiking trails to explore, including the Washpool walking track, which departs from a campground and loops through ancient rainforest. 

Glen Innes is also the gateway to Gibraltar Range National Park, additionally part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. Pull on your gear for a mountain biking adventure past enormous granite outcrops. Camp in fragrant woodlands. Cool off in creeks. Or lace up your walking shoes for day or multi-day hikes through immense forest, with plenty of lookouts along the way.  

Getting there & where to stay

Glen Innes is around seven hours’ drive from Sydney and just over four from Brisbane. The closest airport is in Armidale and you can hire a car for the one-hour drive north. Places to stay include campgrounds and caravan parks, rural cottages and B&Bs. 

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