Local's guide: Tamworth

Australia’s country music capital has it all; world-class music, delicious food and wine, fascinating heritage and thrilling rodeo.

Highlights
  • The Big Golden Guitar Tourist Centre
  • The Pig and Tinder Box 
  • The Powerhouse Motorcycle Museum
  • CH on Peel

Sitting between Sydney and Brisbane, Tamworth in northern New South Wales has the feel of a country town, yet it’s big enough to have all the offerings of a cosmopolitan city.

Where to eat

Country music may be Tamworth’s tourist bread and butter, but the city is also on the rise as a paddock-to-plate dining destination. Within Tamworth’s Bicentennial Park, between the Peel River and the town CBD lies Hopscotch Restaurant and Bar. Relax among the leafy lookout while you enjoy fresh, local produce. Large windows give you an uninterrupted view over the park from inside, or you can opt to kick-back on the deck under the pergola. Choose from sweet or savoury breakfast options, a range of salads and burgers for lunch, or more substantial dinner fare and to finish why not wash your meal down with a crisp beer, or one of Hopscotch’s signature margaritas.

For the best coffee in town, look no further than Addimi Espresso. Located on Peel Street in the centre of town, they dish up a great range of breakfast and lunch items – as well as a mean espresso. Or if you prefer a cup of tea, at Teamo Teahouse you can take your pick from more than 50 loose-leaf teas, all of which can be served on ice. But if you’d like a bit more of a kick; then a tea-based cocktail is where it’s at. Nestled in the heart of Tamworth is Homestead Coffee Lounge, where patrons can enjoy freshly roasted coffee, as well as a cake or scone hot out of the oven. What’s more NRMA Members can save 20% off the total bill up to $25 thanks to NRMA Blue.

The Pig and Tinder Box marries a classic pub vibe with that of a hip contemporary bar and restaurant. Providing a fresh take on casual drinking and dining, ‘The Pig’ offers craft beers, a gallery of delicious cocktails, fine whiskeys and a wine list celebrating some of Australia’s finest growing regions. Drinks are paired with quirky share plates, a generous selection of traditional wood-fired pizzas, and not to mention some re-invented pub classics and other treats from the oven. Sitting seamlessly between two re-purposed heritage buildings, with a sweeping view over the rolling hills of Goonoo Goonoo Station and the distant Liverpool Range is The Glasshouse. Featuring a regional wine list that prioritises quality and taste above all else, and a share-focused menu made from locally-sourced ingredients, you can expect delights such as tea-smoked chicken with truffled chat potatoes, or a rib-cracking Florentine steak for two served with chimichurri.

What to do

When Peel Street becomes a seat of hats and impromptu dancers move to tunes on the street, guitars are strummed, boots are tapped, and the sound of live music greets you everywhere you go, you know its festival time in Tamworth. The Tamworth Country Music Festival is an award-winning and internationally renowned event that attracts over 300,000 music lovers from all walks of life and all corners of the world. More than 700 unique performers, 2,800 events in 120 different venues across the region means that nearly every pub, café and restaurant are vibing as the entire city embraces the spirit of the festival.

If you’re not in Tamworth during festival time, get your country fix at The Big Golden Guitar Tourist Centre, which has wax figures of Chad Morgan, Jean Stafford, Johnny Chester and the like. While The Australian Country Music Hall of Fame is run by volunteers and is bursting with memorabilia - from spangled stage costumes to the well-strummed guitars of Australia’s country music greats. Or you could take a stroll down the Legends of Country Music row in Bicentennial Park and fall in line with some legends as you check out the bronze busts, where you can hang out with the likes of Tex Morton, Stan Coster and Reg Lindsay who have been immortalised here.

The Powerhouse Motorcycle Museum is a must for lovers of two-wheeled engineering. Housing a private collection of over 50 motorcycles in pristine working order from the 50s, 60s. 70s, and 80s; bike enthusiasts will be in clover in this lovingly curated collection of Ducatis, Triumphs, BSAs and other classic bikes. And if you’re travelling with kids than the Tamworth Marsupial Park is sure to be a hit. Hand feed, walk and talk with native animals all in a natural bush setting. There’s also an aviary where you can walk among the carolling and squawking of king parrots, scarlet rosellas and other species.

If it’s panoramic views that give you the feels, the Tamworth region is ready and waiting. Head to Oxley Lookout in East Tamworth, which has views of the city and the Peel River Valley. Just north-east of town, the spectacular Moonbi Lookout has views of the plains below Moonbi Hills, whilst the Hanging Rock lookout is located at an elevation of 1,100m and shows off the Peel River Valley.

Where to stay

The heritage-listed CH on Peel, right in the heart of the city centre has been transformed from a pub into an Art Deco hotel in 2014. The good news is, you can still enjoy a beer or a glass of wine in the bar downstairs while watching the world go by. At the leafy Paradise Tourist Park, set on the Peel River – a few minutes amble from the CBD, you can book a cabin, pull up with a caravan or pitch a tent. Its meticulously-kept facilities include a communal kitchen and – the best thing during the heat of a Tamworth summer; a swimming pool.

For a quiet night in the countryside, McNevins Tamworth Motel is 10 minutes out of town, with the blessings of a rural outlook. While it has run-of-the-mill décor, the motel welcomes pets and there are even facilities for a horse or two. On the other hand, leading the way in smart luxury, superb service and conveniently located close to the CBD is The Powerhouse Tamworth. Featuring a range of upmarket room styles, as well as free Wi-Fi, smart televisions and room service all rooms feature an Espressotoria coffee pod machine, reverse cycle air-conditioning, marble bathroom, bathrobes and luxurious toiletries.

If you’re after five-star accommodation, than The Retreat at Froog-Moore Park is a boutique hotel right on the periphery of town. Choose from one of the five individual suites, each with its own feel – from the tribal Henderson Room to the spacious Succulent Suite with its own private veranda and towering breakfast room. Perhaps you’d prefer the Japanese Maeda Room, or the exotic Moroccan Fantasy room that boasts a claw foot bath or maybe the Dungeon complete with plush sensual colours and mood lighting.

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