Odometer: 6679 km
Tamworth is a quiet country town with a number of heritage and art deco buildings. People go their quiet way, reverse angle parking their cars. Nothing to indicate that once a year this place turns into one of the biggest music places in the world.
Following the New England Highway to the West, we pass through Scone, the horse breeding capital of Australia. Set amongst lush green rolling hills, grasslands with copses of trees and the occasional granite, are some of the most famous horse studs in Australia.
We stop and I meet up with some very inquisitive and friendly horses, as well as a flock of chickens. I suspect they were all anticipating a feed. Scone is a small country town and I would have loved a ranch stay for a couple of days here!
We cross the Great Dividing Range at 673 metres elevation, and find ourselves into cattle fattening country. The fields are becoming bigger, and the roads quieter, as we head into Tamworth.
Tamworth is one of the largest towns in country NSW, it has a population of close to 50,000, and with the region it makes around 70,000. So it is slightly larger than Dubbo, Bathurst and Orange. It seems 40-50,000 inhabitants is enough to maintain a number of supermarkets and a good range of the regular Big City high street shops, but not yet a department store. And naturally there will be the usual range of fast food outlets.
It is definitely a country tiwn though:
- people speak to you as you walk past them!
- car parking is done at an angle from the curb, with the back of the car pointed to the curb.
- Lady shakes, and Men shakes are regular adverts on the tv.
- There WILL be a DIY car wash within the CBD area.
- Vinnies, Lifeline, Salvation Army, the big charity chains all have a high street presence.
- Cash is still king, and paying by card for amounts under $10 is generally frowned upon. Mike’s barber only took cash.
Tamworth is the music capital of Australia, and you can’t really avoid it. Not only are there busts of a large number of people I have never even heard of, there is the Big Guitar in front of the tourist information centre. And even the street furniture, like bike racks and benches, points at its music focus.
The big event is in January, the Tamworth Country Music Festival. Ten days of Country, Western, Swing, Bluegrass, Rock and Folk music. It is the largest music festival in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the top 10 in the world. It has 800 performers, 400 shows over 120 venues. Must be a truly amazing experience, the festival attracts over 300,000 visitors annually, that is 5 times the population!
Alas, it will not be taking place in 2021 due to the Covid pandemic.
However, we are not here in January, and the town is decidedly quiet, very quiet. We use the time to relax, enjoy our wines with our home cooked dinners, and getting our daily walks in along the river and bicentennial park and plan the next part of our journey.
The big question is if the Queensland border with NSW will open up on 1st November. If it doesn’t, we will be heading for South Australia!
- Best coffee: Ruby’s, at the far eastern end of Peel street, the main shopping street. A funky cafe with a focus on bunnies.
- Accomodation: we stayed at an AirBnB on Parry Street in West Tamworth, a recently completely renovated 1950’s bungalow with three bedrooms and a large garden. It is a nice half hour stroll into town from here, and it is right next to the golf course.
- Tip: come back to Tamworth when the festival is on!