New England Tableland Attractions
New England is a beautiful highland region, with magnificent mountains and many waterfalls, in the hinterland of the Holiday Coast, which extends northward from Port Macquarie to the border with Queensland. Its rivers, streams and artificial lakes (Pindari and Copeton Dams) offer good fishing and excellent facilities for water sports. Its fertile black soil produces wheat and, particularly to the west, cotton, and its excellent grazing nourishes sheep and cattle. It is a good area for gem fossicking (hunting for precious stones). At Glen Innes and Inverell there are sapphire reserves where the necessary equipment can be hired; a permit is required and can be obtained from tourist offices.
New England National Park
29,900 ha.The New England National Park extends over the steep slopes rising from the Bellinger River to the New England plateau (over 1400 m). Declared a national park in 1931 and enlarged in 1983, it contains one of the largest surviving areas of rain forest in New South Wales. Three different zones can be distinguished: sub-alpine flora with snow gums at the upper levels, temperate rain forest below this and subtropical rain forest with numerous ferns and orchids in the depressions. There are breathtaking views from Point Lookout of the almost vertical escarpment; in good weather the view extends as far as the Pacific.There are walking trails along the foot of the escarpment to the areas of rain forest and bush trails through the wilderness.
Glen Innes, Australia
Glen Innes (alt. 1073 m; pop. 6140), the center of a lush farming district with rich deposits of sapphire and zinc, lies in a beautiful setting on the New England tableland, at the junction of the New England and Gwydir Highways. The area was discovered by two cattle herds around 1830 and the town was founded in 1852.There is a large Folk Museum in the former hospital (Ferguson and West Streets) with relics of pioneering daysThe Town Hall dates from 1875, the Courthouse (in which the notorious bushranger Captain Thunderbolt was tried) from 1874, the Great Central Hotel from 1880.
Gibraltar Range National Park
17,273ha.Situated on the New England plateau at an altitude of around 1200m, this is a region of wild mountain scenery, with deep gorges containing waterfalls up to 240m high and huge granite buttresses, and a wide range of vegetation, from arid heath and marshland to rain forest. There is an exhibition of Aboriginal artifacts in the visitor center.The Gwydir Highway, which divides the park into two parts, was indirectly the occasion for the establishment of the park in 1963. From the highway a road runs to Mulligan's Hut (picnic areas). The park is the starting point of many walking trails.
Near Glen Innes are fossicking areas where visitors can hunt for precious stones. Half way between Glen Innes and Grafton on the old road, running through fine mountain and river scenery, is a tunnel hewn from the rock by convict labor.
Cathedral Rock National Park
6500ha.Rock formations and buttresses such as Cathedral Rock and the Woolpack Rocks, massive granite crags which are frequently snow-capped in winter; the highest peaks after those of the Snowy Mountains (Round Mountain, 1584m); beautiful forests, marshland and a rich fauna. From the tops of the granite crags there are fine panoramic views.There is a camping site on Native Dog Creek and good facilities for visitors on Native Dog Creek (picnic area), with a footpath to Woolpack Rocks, bush walking, and rock-climbing.
Tenterfield (pop. 3300) is situated amid hills at an altitude of 860m and lies close to the border with Queensland. Originally this was grazing land, with fruit plantations, timber working, sawmills and mines (silicates, gold). The landscape is a glory of color in autumn.Tenterfield is famed as the place where Sir Henry Parkes, prime minister of New South Wales, made a speech while visiting the School of Arts (now a museum) in 1889 calling for the unification of Australia and thus launched the movement for federation.
Bald Rock National Park
5400ha.The dominant feature in the park is the huge granite dome of Bald Rock (750 3 500 m, 200 m high), surrounded by bush country. From the summit of the rock, which can be climbed on the northeast side, there are fine panoramic views, extending as far as the Tweed valley. Large numbers of kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and birds live in the park. The area round Bald Rock was known to the Aborigines as Boonoo Boonoo. The area round the rock was declared a protected zone in 1906; in 1971 it became a state park and in 1974 a national park.There is a trail to the summit of Bald Rock (2 km).
Boonoo Boonoo National Park
Boonoo Boonoo National Park is northeast of Tenterfield in the Northern Tableland; 2692ha. Access is from Tenterfield north on Mount Lindesay highway, then side road (14 km).The main feature of the park is the wild Boonoo Boonoo River, with a 210 m high waterfall and a gorge containing an expanse of rain forest.
Inverell (pop. 97000), known as 'Sapphire City', lies west of Glen Innes on the Gwydir River and on the Gwydir Highway, in fertile farming country. Industrial diamonds, zircons, zinc and sapphires are mined in the area. Visitors can hunt for precious stones with a permit obtainable from the tourist information office.Inverell features a courthouse (1868) with clock tower, a Pioneer Village (homestead and other buildings of around 1840), a church and an inn.
30km south of Inverell is Copeton Dam State Recreation Area (water sports). 57km north is the little New England town of Ashford, in the center of a tobacco-growing area. North-west of Ashford are limestone caves and the Macintyre Falls; to the south is the Pindari Dam.
Lightning Ridge, Australia
Lightning Ridge (pop. 2670) is surrounded by the famous Lightning Ridge opal fields, in which the valuable black opals are found. The veins of opals lie 20 m under the surface, and the landscape is patterned by spoil heaps and abandoned mines. Although the summers are very hot and the winters cool the opal miners do not live in underground dwellings as they do in White Cliffs and the opal fields of Queensland and South Australia.
Tamworth (pop. 35,100) is the commercial and cultural center of northern New South Wales. It is also known as the capital of Australian country music, to which thousands of fans flock in January for the annual Australian Country Music Festival.Tamworth City Gallery has a fine collection. From the Oxley Lookout in 400 ha Oxley Park there is a fine view of the town with its many parks and gardens.
There are many excursions to take from Tamworth including to places like: Nundle, an old gold-digging town, southeast; Lake Keepit, which is good for water sports, 57km northwest; Chaffey Dam which has fine sailing, 45km southeast; and Warrabah National Park, 80km northeast.
Tingha (pop. 840) is a little New England settlement where large deposits of tin were discovered in 1870. In the town's heyday there were 6000 men working in the mines. A few mines are still being worked.On Copes Creek is a museum containing a collection of minerals and Aboriginal works of art.
Uralla (pop. 2300) was established in the 1850s after rich discoveries of gold in the area.Visitors can hunt for treasure in the fossicking area at the Old Rocky River diggings.The notorious bushranger Captain Thunderbolt was shot dead by the police in Uralla in 1870 and was buried in the local cemetery.
The little town of Bingara (pop. 1300) is situated on the Gwydir River amid wooded hills. Many precious stones have been (and still are) found in the rivers and streams in this area. The All Nations Gold Mine was closed down in 1948.
Historical Society Museum
The Historical Society Museum is located in the Bingara's oldest hotel (c 1860).The Post Office Hotel was one of the first 10 buildings in Bingara. There is an extenseive photo collection on display inside while various horse-drawn equipment and other farming implements are displayed on the grounds.
The Chinese cemetery is 25 km south of Bingara.It is still enclosed by a post and rail fence.
Copeton Lake is 60km east of Bingara and has ideal conditions for water sports.
Upper Bingara Goldfields
Upper Bingara Goldfields features remains dating from the gold rush days.
Walcha (pop. 1700) is on the eastern slopes of the Great Dividing Range and was first settled in 1832. John Oxley camped here on his 1818 expedition. The wooded hills and valleys were the first part of the New England Tableland to be explored.
Werrikimbe National Park
35,200ha.Werrikimbe National Park, on the eastern edge of the New England Plateau, was established in 1976 and extended in 1982. The plateau is deeply indented by the valleys of the Hastings River and its tributaries. It is an impressive wilderness area, with waterfalls, gorges and expanses of rain forest.There are attractive trails for bush walking.
Address: 188W North Street, Walcha, NSW 2354, Australia
Entrance fee in AUD: Adult $3.00, Child $2.00
Useful tips: Access from Oxley Highway between Walcha and Wauchope; tracks from Walcha along eastern boundary of park. Adult and child fees are for camping only and apply per night.
Near Walcha is Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, with its spectacular waterfalls and viewpoints (Armidale). Woko National Parks is also nearby.