The historic settlement of Tamworth has become a trendy outback destination with world-class music, amazing food, and boutique accommodation.
By Dan F Stapleton
In 1888, Tamworth became the first place in Australia to turn on electric street lights. Some say it’s been a trend-setter ever since. In 1972 it kicked off an annual festival for Australia’s burgeoning country music scene which now draws more than 50,000 fans a year, and more recently a clutch of exciting new venues have opened in Tamworth including a chic hotel and some great places to eat. There are plenty of reasons to visit Australia’s latest hotspot – but hurry, before everyone finds out about it.
- Indulge your taste buds at the Taste Tamworth food and wine festival
- Sing along to some country tunes at the Tamworth Country Music Festival
- Stay in some unique accommodation at a working outback cattle station
How to get there
Tamworth is situated in regional New South Wales, around a 5 hour drive from Sydney or a 7 hour drive from Brisbane. Alternatively, you can fly to Tamworth from Sydney with Qantas or Virgin Australia who offer multiple daily flights.
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Top things to do in Tamworth
Indulge your taste buds at Taste Tamworth
The newest major event to be launched in Tamworth is a 10-day extravaganza of food and wine that focuses on the remarkable range of produce being cultivated in northern New South Wales. At Taste Tamworth, which takes place each April, you can visit markets full of just-picked fruit, sample cider and beer from lauded craft breweries, go behind the scenes at nearby farms and dress up for sophisticated dinner parties. There are also starlit music performances and weekend workshops for families.
Eat and drink with the locals
Tamworth boasts a number of hip gathering places. Local favourite The Pig & Tinderbox dates back to 1848 making it the oldest pub in Tamworth, but a recent revamp has brought it squarely into the 21st century, and it’s now the go-to spot for craft beers, unusual cocktails, and a tightly curated wine list. At Addimi you’ll find coffee that rivals the best on offer in Sydney and Melbourne, plus a renowned sweets menu – try the espresso tart with peanut butter brownie ice cream and almond twirl. Burger joint Williamsburg is one notable newcomer that’s been established by a local family: it nods to the ultra-cool New York neighbourhood of the same name with wacky US ingredients (ever had macaroni and cheese on your burger?) as well as calorific milkshakes.
Listen to the tunes at Tamworth Country Music Festival
Even if you’ve never listened to Australian country music, you’ll be swept up in the excitement of the Tamworth Country Music Festival which is the second biggest event of its kind in the world (just behind Nashville’s annual bash). The festival is held over two weeks in January and includes the local industry’s best-known names alongside starry-eyed hopefuls who compete in various talent and discovery contests. The festival culminates in the Golden Guitar Awards ceremony, which is Australian country’s equivalent of the Grammys. Be sure to book your accommodation well in advance, or investigate the various camping options on offer.
Stay on a cattle farm
Goonoo Goonoo Station, which is a working cattle farm on the outskirts of town, has a range of accommodation options for anyone after a unique farmstay. Guests can get comfortable in a variety of beautifully restored buildings, many of which date back to the farm’s inception in the 1840s, including the luxurious five-bedroom Homestead and a quaint two-bedroom weatherboard cottage dubbed The Granny Flat. There’s an on-site restaurant that offers beef from the farm along with sweeping views of the countryside.