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NSW regional emerging hotspot

There’s world-class music, amazing food and boutique accommodation in the once-sleepy settlement of Tamworth. Here are five reasons to pay a visit.

By Dan F Stapleton
Published: 5 May, 2017

In 1888, the Outback city of Tamworth – halfway between Sydney and Brisbane – 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 in recent months, a clutch of exciting new venues has 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.

‘Taste Tamworth’ is on right now

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 is on now and runs until 7 May, 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 kids that bring to life recipes from their favourite books.

There are beverages to suit all moods

The Pig & Tinderbox, Tamworth, New South Wales

Unusually for an Australian country town, Tamworth boasts a number of hip gathering places, whether you’re after a caffeine fix or an expertly crafted cocktail. 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.

Young guns are invigorating the dining scene

Don’t worry if you miss the Taste Tamworth festival; there are plenty of satisfying food options in town. Some of them have been set up by foodies who have moved to Tamworth from Australia’s big cities, while others have been started by locals. 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?) and calorific milkshakes (there’s also beer and wine). Across the road at the Quality Hotel Powerhouse there’s top-notch food from executive chef Ben Davies, a three-time Michelin star recipient, and a wine list showcasing the best drops in Australia.

It’s home to one of the world’s biggest music events

Tamworth Country Music Festival, Tamworth, New South Wales

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). It’s held over two weeks in January – the Australian summer – 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.

You can stay at Goonoo Goonoo Station

Goonoo Goonoo Station, Tamworth, New South Wales

This working cattle farm on the outskirts of town recently unveiled accommodation options, and early reviews have been glowing. Guests can stay 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 and sweeping views of the countryside, plus plenty of bucolic farmland to explore.