5 reasons Tamworth is the capital of country
Renowned for country music, warm hospitality and
its sunburnt, natural beauty, Holly Johnson uncovers
Tamworth’s plentiful delights.
From its world-famous Tamworth Country Music Festival to native wildlife, rocking rodeos and incredible regional produce, Tamworth, in northern NSW, is a vibrant and enticing family destination all-year round. The region provides the best of both worlds for families: a relaxed country lifestyle with the convenience of city facilities right on your doorstep.
1. Back to nature
With bushwalking, boating and fishing on offer, Tamworth offers plenty of opportunity for outdoor adventures. Grab your bikes and tackle the extensive network of tracks at Tamworth Mountain Bike Park or soak up the panoramic views at Oxley Scenic Lookout. Get up close to kangaroos, wallabies, cockatoos, emus and peacocks at Tamworth Marsupial Park and Adventure Playground. Here, you can hand-feed joeys, spot colourful birds in the free-flight aviary or let the kids run wild in the playground while you cook lunch on the free barbecue facilities.
Take a drive out to Sunhill Dairy Goats Farm in Uralla, where the kids can meet the resident goats and learn about life on a working farm while you sample goat's cheese and the skincare products crafted on site.
A leisurely 40-minute drive from the Tamworth CBD is Nundle, a pretty village known for its main street, which is lined with shops filled with antiques, homewares and craft. Surrounded by undulating green hills, beautiful trees and parks, Nundle Road also leads visitors on a picturesque journey through the Peel and Dungowan Valleys.
2. Horsing around
From thrilling rodeos to outback trail riding, the Tamworth region is home to equestrian competitions and horseback adventures aimed at those with all levels of experience. Take a scenic journey through the mountains at Kootingal Horse Riding Adventures or learn cattle-mustering and horseback skills at Leconfield Jackaroo and Jillaroo School. If you’d rather see than do, there are regular events held at the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre, including dressage, show-jumping and 'cutting' by some of the best sport horses and riders in the country.
3. Play time
With its giant slides, bike tracks, a dual flying fox and skywalk, Tamworth Regional Playground is a great spot to stop and let the kids stretch their legs. An on site cafe and fitness circuit, as well as free Wi-Fi, barbecue and picnic facilities means parents will love it, too. Or perhaps you’d rather let the family go wild at Tamworth Paintball and Laser Tag with more than a dozen fields for combat. Thorny’s Putt-Putt is another family favourite with two 18-hole courses for beginners and mini-golf pros. You will find plenty of all-weather activities across Tamworth, too, including KidzZone, Jump Up Trampoline Zone, Level Up Family Amusement Centre and Tamworth Tenpin Bowling.
4. A little bit country
All roads lead to Tamworth in January for the annual Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth — Australia's largest music festival and rated among the Top 10 in the world. Now in its 45th year, the 10-day event attracts more than 55,000 visitors who flock into town to see more than 700 performers perform 2600 shows across 120 venues.
Experience the buzz of Peel St during the day, which is alive with buskers and market stalls, and then pull on your cowboy boots and boot-scoot your way to enjoy free outdoor concerts headlined by the industry’s biggest names every night. For country music fans there’s also the chance to meet with your favourite artists in the lively Fanzone precinct The Regional Australia Bank Family Zone is full of kid-friendly concerts and rides to suit all ages, including a 20-metre ferris wheel, an atmospheric side show alley, dodgem cars, bungy trampoline and jumping castle.
Country music’s night of nights is the Country Music Awards of Australia (the Toyota Golden Guitar Awards). There’s nothing quite like joining the throngs to watch country music’s brightest stars walk the red carpet, take the stage as presenters and performers, and maybe join the ranks of the more than 400 winners since 1973.
5. Country hospitality
There are plenty of places to drop your swag and spend the night in Tamworth. Pitch a tent in splendid Warrabah National Park and enjoy bushwalking, birdwatching, swimming and canoeing. There are also picnic tables, toilets and barbecue facilities to add a few home comforts to your campsite adventures.
With its relaxed atmosphere and close proximity to town, BIG4 Paradise Tourist Park, nestled on the banks of the Peel River, is ideal for families. There’s a large undercover barbecue area, a playground and a gorgeous inground pool, perfect for cooling off after a day spent exploring. Accommodation options include luxury villas and cabins with one-, two- and three-bedroom options, budget cabins and bunkrooms, plus ensuite and powered caravan sites.
Located just outside Tamworth in Uralla, the Wooldridge Recreation and Fossicking Reserve offers free camping and toilet facilities, picnic tables, barbecues and fresh drinking water. During your stay, the kids can try their luck at panning in search of gold, crystals and diamonds, sapphires, topaz and more.
Camping by 'the dam' is a rural ritual. Chaffey Dam, Keepit Dam and Split Rock Dam all offer unpowered sites, plus bush camping, barbecues, showers and toilets. Hire a boat for an afternoon of water-skiing or see if you can hook a Murray cod, yellowbelly, silver perch or catfish to feed your crew.
This article appeared in volume 53 of Holidays with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.