Sitting pretty in the New England region of NSW, Inverell shines bright – in more ways than one. This part of the state is known as ‘gemstone country’, and Inverell contributes to this reputation thanks to its bounty of sapphires. Try your luck fossicking in the region’s rivers, which web a lush countryside of national parks and wildlife reserves, ideal for taking Mother Nature’s pulse.



Sapphire City 

Like many other towns in the lush New England region of NSW, Inverell flourished when precious gems were discovered here in the 19th century. So many diamond and sapphires, in fact, that the town became known as ‘Sapphire City’ – at one stage there were more than 100 operating mines. 

You can learn about this history when you visit jewellery shops like Billabong Blue Sapphire, where staff are as passionate about regaling you with stories of these gleaming gems as they are helping you find the perfect statement piece to take home.  

If you’d prefer to get hands on, you can try your luck fossicking for sapphires, gems and precious stones at Billabong Blue Sapphire Fossicking Park, sitting on Frazers Creek. Whatever you find, you get to keep. The park also offers bush camping, and there are great spots for bushwalking and birdwatching around the grounds. Fees apply here, but there are also a number of free, designated fossicking areas around the town.  

Fossicker in Inverell holding a raw sapphire up to the light, Glen Innes and Inverell Area

Fossicking, Inverell

Art & history 

Wander the streets of Inverell and you’ll soon discover a number of grand heritage buildings, including the two that the Inverell Art Gallery calls home. This creative hub calls itself a ‘living gallery’ – nothing here is static, and it’s always a hive of activity. In addition to rotating displays, you can drop in for art classes, workshops and social gatherings.   

Rob Day sculpture located at New England Woodturning & Sculptures, Inverell

New England Woodturning & Sculptures, Inverell - Credit: Don Fuchs

Take a stroll through history at the Inverell Pioneer Village, a collection of original buildings relocated here from Inverell and surrounding districts to celebrate the pioneering spirit of the region’s forebears. Wander the manicured grounds to visit the Grove Homestead, dating back to 1840 and the oldest building in the village. This is how early settlers once lived. There’s also the 1874 Paddy’s Pub (because mining was thirsty work) and Rob Roy Hall, home to a collection of photos and photography equipment assembled over the last century. If you haven’t tried your hand at fossicking yet, don’t miss the chance to do it here.    

There are a number of other gallery spaces around town re-living the region’s rich history, including the National Transport Museum. There are more than 250 vehicle exhibits here, ranging from vintage and classic modern to motorcycles and commercial vehicles. Highlights include a 1906 Daytona (believed to be the only one left worldwide), a 1912 Renault and a wide range of Chevs, to name a few.  

Two carriages of the old Sydney Monorail at the National Transport Museum, Inverell

National Transport Museum, Inverell - Credit: Anka McMahon

On the outskirts of Inverell is the Myall Creek Massacre Memorial, which was established as a tribute to the group of 28 unarmed Aboriginal people killed by a gang of stockmen in 1838. Dotting the walk are various history stones and etchings by Aboriginal artist Colin Isaac telling the story of the massacre. This heritage-listed memorial is one of Australia’s most important reconciliation sites. A service is held here every June long weekend. 

Dancing during the 2015 ceremony at the Myall Creek Massacre Memorial Walk, Myall Creek

Myall Creek Massacre Memorial Walk, Myall Creek - Credit: Gwydir Shire Council Bingara/Tourist Officer Jen Mead

Outdoor adventures 

Lake Inverell Reserve is a peaceful aquatic sanctuary on the outskirts of town. There are two walking trails you can explore: one an easy 3km walk around the lake, and another exploring Barayamal National Park over 6km. Keep watch for all manner of birds, kangaroos and even an elusive platypus or two. Joeys Adventure Kayaking Tours also take you out onto the water to paddle around the reserve.

More water awaits at Copeton Dam, just a short drive from Inverell. This is a popular fishing spot, and offers plenty of opportunities for swimming, water skiing, kayaking and more – there are also great trails to hike around the shore.  

Scenic sunrise views across Lake Copeton, Copeton

Lake Copeton, Copeton

A scenic drive north near the NSW-QLD border is Kwiambal National Park, a glorious nature reserve where you can hike along trails through groves of ironbarks and cypress, exploring dramatic granite gorges and twisting waterways; kangaroos and emus are among the faunal residents. The rivers through the park are a major attraction, with plenty of opportunities for fishing and swimming in plunge pools, beaches and scenic waterfalls. Try river fishing on the Slippery Rock walking track. This 4km return track offers some spectacular views of nearby gorges and waterfalls.  

More outdoor adventures await in the Goonoowigall State Conservation Area, home to 120 species of native birds and just as many animals which you’ll likely meet along 10 kilometres of marked walking tracks. 

Slippery Rock walking track, Kwiambal National Park

Slippery Rock walking track, Kwiambal National Park - Credit: Michael Van Ewijk

Getting there & where to stay

Inverell is a seven-hour drive from Sydney and just under five hours from Brisbane. Link Airways operates direct flights from Inverell to Brisbane four days a week and Inverell to Sydney three days a week. Other airlines fly into Armidale and you can hire a car for the 90 minutes drive north. There are lots of places to stay including caravan parks, motels, historic cottages and homesteads, a boutique hotel and the luxury glamping experience Faraway Domes.

Offering guests a unique experience of privacy and solitude at Faraway Domes, Warialda

Faraway Domes Country Retreat, Warialda - Credit: Faraway Domes



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