A lovely rural town with wide tree-lined streets, Scone is known as the horse capital of Australia. Home to dozens of studs and world-class thoroughbred breeders, the beautiful area in the Upper Hunter celebrates its equine heritage with annual events such as the 10-day Scone Horse Festival.
The festival in May includes the Scone Cup Carnival, a two-day event that attracts fine race horses. The thrilling carnival is a fabulous opportunity to dress up. Stay a few more days and enjoy scenic drives and explore magnificent national parks, including UNESCO World Heritage-listed wilderness.
The Upper Hunter is one of biggest horse-breeding regions in the world. The champion mare Winx was raised at Coolmore in Jerry Plains, south of Scone and Muswellbrook. Winx is one of the greatest racehorses of all time along with the undefeated Black Caviar, a mare retired to a stud in the region.
Getting to Scone is easy. The drive north from Sydney past the vineyards of Australia’s oldest wine region is only a few hours and from Newcastle Airport about two hours. Alternatively, you can take a scenic train trip to Scone, via Newcastle and Maitland. The quickest rail journey is about four hours.
Pop into the Scone Visitor Information and Horse Centre for helpful tips and brochures on all the wonderful things to do and see in the area. A delightful way to get around the pretty streets and admire the heritage buildings is cycling. You can rent bicycles from the visitor information centre.
You’ll find accommodation options to suit various budgets, from elegant colonial mansions and holiday cottages to motels, bed and breakfasts, apartments, lakeside holiday parks and farm stays. You can even pitch a tent at Washpools campground in Towarri National Park, just north of Scone.
The national park is home to abundant wildlife, including gliders, wallabies and glossy-black cockatoos. Near Towarri is Burning Mountain Reserve, where a 5,500 year-old natural underground fire is part of the local Aboriginal Dreaming. The UNESCO-listed Barrington Tops is east of Scone.
One of the best freshwater fishing spots in NSW is between Scone and the World Heritage area. Cast a line in Lake Glenbawn for tasty bass and golden perch. Other water sports popular on the lake include waterskiing, sailing and canoeing. The holiday park has cabins, bungalows and camping sites.