The regional city of Tamworth proved to be way more urban than I thought it would be.
With few surroundings except livestock roaminggrassy fields and bushland with scattered gum trees, Tamworth feels surprisingly like a mini-metropolis with conveniences that rival the busier towns lining the east coast of Australia.
I’d never had the opportunity to visit Tamworth untilmy recent NSW road trip. Rob and I intentionally took the inland route on the return journey to Sydney so that we could visit a part ofthe state that we’d heard plenty about but had never seen.
Departing the north coast to drive over the mountains and through the New Englandcountryside was really spectacular, with waterfalls and gorges providing scenic stops along the way. When we arrived in Tamworth, we knew that the detour had absolutely been worth it.
We seriously enjoyed our time in town and would gladly go back again, maybe next time toexperience the festivities of the Country Music Festival. If you’ve got plans to do some sightseeing in this rural destination, here’s my suggestions for how to spend one day in Tamworth!
Where to stay in Tamworth:
We stayed at Quality Inn Ashby House during our short stay in Tamworth. The accommodation was in a charming old building with a historic stone facade featuring decorative white balustrades. It suited us perfectly as it had a car space for our rental vehicle and was within walking distance of downtown.
The rooms inside were simple, clean, and tidy. The inn also had a restaurant and a small swimming pool, though we unfortunately didn’t have enough time to use these facilities. If you’re looking for a basic but comfortable hotel/motel, this place is a great option.
Things to do in Tamworth:
First up, head to the Big Golden Guitar. This icon is one of Australia’s ‘big things’ (like the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour) and is shaped like a giant replica of the music awards handed out to artists at Tamworth’s annual Country Music Festival. This landmark is 12 metres high and can be found at the entrance to the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre.
Next, learn about Tamworth’s past at thePowerstation Museum.Tamworth was the first town in Australia to have electric street lamps which were installed back in 1888, and here you’ll see one of the original gas lamps outside as well as a whole heap of electricity-related artifacts inside. It costs $5 to enter the museum which includes a 2 hour guided tour. It’s definitely a nerdy but also fascinating activity! My favourite things were the gimmicky gadgets such as an electric hair comb and the vintagehousehold appliances such as fridges and washing machines that people in the area used to own.
You really can’t visit Tamworth without stopping in at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Even if you’re like me and don’t really know much about Australia’s country music history, this museum is a must. This guitar-shaped building holds relics from the past country music festivals, gig posters, signed memorabillia, and fabulous outfits worn by the musicians at shows and events.
As the sun is heading towards the horizon, make your way up to Oxley Lookout to watch the sunset. It’s only a short 10 minute drive from downtown, and the views from the top are really neat. You can see the city sprawling out in front of you and the hills and flats of the country landscape.
All that sightseeing will no doubt have left you hungry, so stop in Williamsburg Tamworth for dinner. I thought that the decor, which is meant to reflect that of a big city eatery, felt like a cross between an American diner-style restaurant and a brewpub. Rob and I both ordered vegetarian haloumi burgers with sweet potato fries from this joint and I’ve gotta say, it was definitely as good as anything I would order in Sydney (and that’s saying something as Sydney has a whole lot of excellent food!).
To top off your day in true Tamworth style, stay in town for a drink and some tunes. We sipped on a beveragein the beer garden of The Tamworth Hotel, then walked down to The Welder’s Dog as it was the only place we could find live music on a Thursday night. It ended up being a top choice, though – the beer (brewed locally), the atmosphere, and the folk band were all great!