Reliving Australian history
WATCHING the red leaf drift down slowly to land on the bonnet of my car, I felt myself relax as I reached my destination.
Shortly after passing the large “Welcome to New South Wales” sign, I entered the historic town of Tenterfield, with its tree-lined streets covered in autumn leaves, fascinating history and heritage stone cottages on the New England Highway.
Saddles, performer Peter Allen, and the Australian Federation are the eclectic few things that Tenterfield is famous for, but there is so much more for visitors – something I discovered during my recent stay in this friendly town.
My first stop was to check-in to the historic Deloraine B&B, styled with antique furnishings, delightful sunroom and friendly owners Tony and Debby.
Their beautifully appointed rooms with open fireplace and furnishings of yesteryear, along with Tony’s tales of the long and interesting history of Deloraine, transported me to another time.
Once settled, I was off to explore the quaint stores and dining options of Tenterfield’s main street, Rouse Street.
The area has changed over recent years with some of the industry that helped establish the town disappearing and Tenterfield emerging as a tourist hotspot with wineries, B&Bs, antique shopping and a range of historical sites to visit.
After exploring the boutique stores, I spotted the sweet pink Willow Tree Café and enjoyed a delicious lunch of gluten-free pumpkin fritters on the sunny back deck.
A short drive out of town towards Casino found me enjoying the range of wines on offer at the Kurrajong Downs Vineyard and Restaurant.
The attraction is run by Tenterfield locals Lynton and Sue Rhodes who are happy to share their hospitality in the form of wine tastings and their knowledge from more than 40 years in the area.
Dining out in style is no problem in Tenterfield with Henry’s on Rouse right at the end of the main street, offering an elegant dining experience.
With a selection of local wines to accompany the discerning range of meals and deserts, including hearty favourites of Guinness Pie and delicate delights such as fig and apricot crumble, narrowing down the decision was the hardest part.
As the temperature drops outside, the massive central fireplace is fired up and becomes a popular place for diners and guests to linger.
After falling asleep to sounds of the fire crackling in my room, I set off to explore the history of the town the next morning, but not before enjoying a hearty breakfast at the B&B.
Setting out from the informative visitors centre, I followed the historical walk around the heart of Tenterfield.
I passed landmarks such as St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church wherepoet AB (Banjo) Paterson married his bride in the social event of 1903, the Tenterfield Saddlery made famous in the song by Peter Allen about his grandfather, and businesses and cottages dating back to the early 1800s. I had to keep the camera at the ready.
Perhaps one of the most historic of all Australian sites is visited at the Sir Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts.
Newly refurbished as a museum, cinema, function centre and town library, this incredible building is where Sir Henry made his Federation Speech in 1889.
Tucked in a cosy corner between the museum and library is the Courtyard Café, which retains all the charm of bygone days with photos and memorabilia from when it served as a games room for Tenterfield residents.
Not so well-known, the historical mansion of Stannum House has been described as the “Jewel of New England”.
Built by a Tenterfield mining magnate in 1888, the home has unexpected opulence and links to Titanic and Buckingham Palace.
The palatial home was set to be Australia’s first Government House in Tenterfield’s bid to become the nation’s capital.
Now a B&B, gourmet restaurant and antiques showroom, the many beautiful rooms are filled with striking period furniture that had me gasping in awe during the tour of this magnificent house.
My day would not have been complete without a visit to Deetswood Wines where I was privileged to see the crushing of the grapes.
This award-winning winery is a family operation where visitors have the opportunity to learn more about grape-growing and wine-making.
That night, I took the scenic drive to the local golf course.
Though too late for a round, I was just in time to sample the fine fare of Fairways Restaurant.
With a wonderful range of seafood, this lively restaurant has a great atmosphere and views over the greens.
It was an interesting drive home to the Sunshine Coast as I headed up through Gatton and the range via Kilcoy, enjoying the lush green scenery and beautiful views along the way.
Contact Tourism Tenterfield on (02) 6736 1082 to help plan your New England getaway.
The writer travelled courtesy of New England Tourism.