In the heart of the New England region of NSW, Tamworth comes with plenty of country swagger. Visit at any time of year and you’ll enjoy stellar food and wine – and generous portions. And then there are the outdoor activities, with plenty of adventure on the horizon. Perhaps the main reason to visit is to immerse yourself in the world of country music, whether you’re attending the annual Country Music Festival or visiting the 12-metre-high Golden Guitar.
Celebrating country music
The Tamworth Toyota Country Music Festival is the largest and longest country music festival in the Southern Hemisphere, held across 10 days every January for more than 50 years. There are ticketed and free events (more than 3,000 of them in fact), including the culmination: the Golden Guitar Awards. The whole family can enjoy the festive atmosphere thanks to fun activities like dodgem cars, a Ferris wheel, bungees and live music tailored to young audiences. The lesser-known Hats Off To Country Music Festival in July is a more intimate, four-day event that’s also worth a visit.
Outside of these times you can still take a deep dive into country music world. Stop by the Big Golden Guitar Tourist Centre, which is filled with music memorabilia including more than 20 guitars signed by local and international musicians. You can see how your digits compare with the handprints of over 300 musical stars whose hands have been immortalised in concrete at the Country Music Hands of Fame Park.
And then visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, a shrine to all the Australian crooners that have made the industry so special. Browse a stellar collection of memorabilia, take a deep dive into Tamworth’s musical history, and discover the who’s who of the country world through a range of innovative exhibits involving music videos, old-school posters, photographs and instruments dating back close to a century. Phew!
There’s plenty of culture to be had outside of music. Visit the Tamworth Regional Gallery, one of the oldest of its kind in NSW, to discover the district’s heritage and also its future – there are works from plenty of creatives on display. See colonial silverware along with modern exhibitions that change regularly. You can also catch a cultural performance at the purpose-built Capitol Theatre.
The great outdoors beckons across the Tamworth region. Follow Tamworth's jacaranda-lined White St to the very top, and you’ll find yourself at the Oxley Scenic Lookout. It offers dazzling 180-degree views of the city and Peel River Valley around the clock, but is definitely the best seat in the house as the sun goes down. Bushwalking, fishing, canoeing, birdwatching, swimming… these are all on your agenda when you pitch your tent in Warrabah National Park.
If horseriding and rodeos are your thing, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to trails and events including the spectacular Australian Stock Horse Society National Show in March and the National Cutting Horse Association’s Futurity competition in May and June. Get set for a day of wild fun with Tamworth and Kootingal Horse Riding Adventures, catering to the whole family with two-hour trail rides as well as pony jaunts. The experiences operate out of Swamp Oak Station, an enormous working cattle station that you can tour before or after your ride.
Kids will love the chance to get close to kangaroos, wallabies, cockatoos and emus at the Tamworth Marsupial Park, spanning 14 hectares and with free entry. Within the space is an immense adventure playground built by the community, with areas for kids under five as well as those in older age brackets. Adjoining Tamworth’s lush Bicentennial Park (don’t miss feeding the friendly ducks) you’ll find the incredible Tamworth Regional Playground, with facilities that will tire out even the most energetic little explorers. Fuel up for a big day of navigating the skywalk, three giant slides, four towers, the bike track, flying foxes and a waterfall with a three-metre sway bridge.
Tamworth is a five-hour drive north of Sydney and seven hours from Brisbane. There is also a daily direct train and the journey takes just over six hours. Or fly into Tamworth Regional Airport and hire a car to explore the area. Qantas operates direct flights between Sydney and Tamworth daily, and Link Airways operates direct flights between Tamworth and Brisbane six days a week.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.