You might think the Tamworth region, Australia’s country music capital, is all cowboys and dust. Wild pubs and even wilder rodeos. The kind of place where you roll out your swag at the end of a long, stiflingly-hot day to call it a night. But if your tastes are a little more elevated (read: you don’t want to get the Isabel Marant cowboy boots that dirty), you’ll be pleased to learn that this country town in NSW is a luxury oasis, with award-winning accommodation, gourmet cafe culture and artisan boutiques to shop at.
Yes, it’s also got plenty of country music on offer, particularly if you road trip out for the Toyota Tamworth Country Music Festival. Spend days immersed in the music scene, and when you need a reprieve, follow our Tamworth region travel guide to enjoy everything the region has to offer.
Stay: Goonoo Goonoo Station
Before checking out the latest crop of country music talent, check in at Goonoo Goonoo Station. You’ll find the restored sheep station 25 minutes outside of town. It’s easy to see why couples flock to Goonoo Goonoo as a wedding destination – the utmost care has been taken to retain the history of the properties on site, while simultaneously introducing nods to modern architecture.
It won’t surprise you to learn that Goonoo Goonoo Station has won awards in this space, and if you’re ever on site in the evening, it’s worth dining at Glasshouse Restaurant high up on the hill – it too has won awards, including a coveted chef’s hat from the Australian Good Food Guide.
Visit: Toyota Tamworth Country Music Festival
Held in January each year, the Toyota Tamworth Country Music Festival is the biggest event on Tamworth’s calendar. A celebration of Australian country music, the town comes alive with buskers on every corner, pubs overflowing with crowds as music spills onto the street, and free, big-ticket evening events that draw music fans world-over.
Spend a few days exploring what’s on offer – if you’re a country music aficionado, pick up a guide and tick off your festival bucket list of artists, or new fans can easily get acquainted by simply strolling Peel Street and popping into the various pubs holding events each day. While you’re there, head to the Toyota Zone to pick up one of the coveted Toyota hats. All proceeds from the hats and Toyota’s limited-edition pins go to charity – this year, $50,123.22 was raised for Lifeline New England.
Dine: Hopscotch Restaurant & Bar
Easily one of the best cafes in the Tamworth region, Hopscotch Restaurant & Bar is situated next to the $2.2 million Tamworth Regional Playground, which, if you’re travelling with children, is a must-visit thanks to its extensive offering for big and little kids alike.
Relax in the surrounds of Bicentennial Park for breakfast or lunch, enjoying locally-sourced produce that celebrates Tamworth’s food scene, and Toby’s Estate coffee. Looking for something stronger? The separate bar space is perfect for winding down with a glass of champagne or a selection from Hopscotch’s wine list.
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Dine: Le Pruneau
A taste of France in country NSW? You’ll find it at Le Pruneau, a restaurant that caters to the breakfast, brunch and lunch crowds but also has a famous farmer’s market every Saturday morning, where you’ll find fresh, local organic produce.
Not visiting on a Saturday? Le Pruneau has a market room operating daily that’s stocked with house made smallgoods, meats and cheeses, as well as fresh local fruit and vegetables.
Located within the Willow Tree Inn, Graze is renowned for being farm-to-table… literally. The beef is sourced from Colly Creek at Willow Tree, just 2km from the restaurant, and is pasture fed and grain finished. You can even take a look at the dry aging room to observe the specialised process their steaks are put through.
Graze’s menu is seasonally based, working with local producers to create fresh, creative dishes. Head chef Ben Davis hails from the UK and has worked extensively across multiple Michelin-starred restaurants in his time.
Shop: The Other Shop
This fashion boutique in the heart of Tamworth stocks an extensive range of designer labels, so if you’re not feeling the wardrobe you’ve packed (or just want a little retail therapy for a calm afternoon), pop into The Other Shop and sift through racks filled with Spell, Blanca, Camilla & Marc and Anine Bing pieces, plus plenty of other Australian and International designer names.
It’s worth taking a day trip out of the Tamworth region to enjoy Nundle, a peaceful country town approximately 45 minutes away. There is plenty to do and see here, but your first stop should be the Nundle Woollen Mill – it’s still operating over 100 years since its beginnings, and is one of the last spinning mills functioning in Australia. Pick up some hand-knitted pieces here, then head to Odgers & McLelland Exchange Stores, a kitchen and garden store dedicated to vintage aesthetics. Wandering through the wares is enjoyable enough, but if you’re a fan of rustic homewares, this is the right place.
Finally, Arc-en-Ciel Trout Farm is worth a visit, especially if it’s a Sunday when the on-site cafe is open for lunch – the whole smoked trout is our pick. Purchased by a Sydney family in 2006, the farm is known for its smokehouse, which you can visit on weekdays to pick up smoked trout to take home, and other delicacies.
This article originally appeared on Grazia Australia.