How to spend a weekend (or long weekend) in Tenterfield
Tenterfield Weekend Away
Only 3 hours drive from Brisbane, Tenterfield is located in a valley within the Great Dividing Range. This largely preserved historic town is the perfect country escape for a long weekend. In summer the cooler climate makes for a welcome relief compared to the rest of the region and produces the beef, lamb, fruit, vegetables and wines that the area is famous for.
Tenterfield is one of the great country towns in the region. The air is freshers, the grass is greener, the meat and vegetables that much tastier and the locals just that much more friendly. Here is a destination you can enjoy on a budget or splurge out to enjoy a little (or a lot) of luxury.
For a small town Tenterfield has many claims to fame. This is where Henry Parkes made a famous speech calling for the colonies of Australia to be united as a single country. It is where Peter Allen was born and spent many years as a child. His most famous song is I Still Call Australia Home, but another of his memorable songs is Tenterfield Saddler about his grandfather, who was a saddler in Tenterfield. You can also visit the little church where Banjo Patterson was married.
The famous Tenterfield Saddler. Wish I had rode my horse into town just so I could hitch it up here.
Most of the historical locations are located within easy walking distance of each other in the centre of town. The highlights include The Tenterfield School of Arts, which houses a quaint country movie theatre and the Henry Parks Museum, The Historic Stannum House (which is also a B&B), The Tenterfield Saddlery, which is part museum and part shop, The Centenary Cottage Museum and further away there is the Railway Museum.
The Tenterfield School of Arts, where the push to become a single federated Australia was started
Even if history is not your thing, it is still worth spending half a day wandering around town. In between many of the historic locations are antique and curio shops as well as numerous cafes. When the shops, museums or cafes are not busy, then locals will stop you for a chat.
Cafes, Dining and Entertainment
Tenterfield, being a country town, tends to shut down in the evening. In addition, because tourists tend to head there on weekends, many places don't even operate on Mondays and Tuesdays. Having said that, there are still fantastic places to eat, drink and party.
For dining head to the pubs, as these stay open at night and serve up great juicy steaks. The pub with a more refined atmosphere and menu is the Commercial Boutique Hotel. This pub serves great steaks, lamb and salmon mains, while also providing options like Tapas for groups and burgers and pizzas that are better for the kids.
During the day you will find a number of cafes and bakeries open, though some stay closed on Saturdays, there are still plenty of places open on Sunday. The Tenterfield Bakery opens up at 6:30 am. This bakery also does coffee. The earliest cafe opens up at 7 am. Other cafes start to open around 8 am. Most cafes retain their classic country charm but serve coffee and meals comparable to the better city cafes.
If you prefer to self cater, pickup some award winning sausages (or other meats) from Premier Meats or Wizards Butchery and have a barbecue. The best place for a barbecue is at Mount Mackenzie Lookout. There are picnic tables, barbecues and a great view of the valley and Tenterfield.
Mt Mackenzie Lookout has great views of the valley, town as well as picnic tables and barbecues
The are also barbecues in various parks around Tenterfield. Rotary Park definitely has electric barbecues and is right next to the swimming pool.
Tenterfield has two main types of shops. The first are antiques and the others are handmade local goods. All of these shops lie at the heart of Tenterfield. It is simply a matter of making your way up and down the main street in Tenterfield. Be aware, many of the shops stay closed on Sundays, so Saturday is usually the best shopping day, but there are enough open on Sunday to enjoy a browse.
One item that you should definitely pick up is local meats,so don't forget to pack an esky for the trip. It is the cool atmosphere that produces the best and most tender meats. Premier Meats is the place to check out as they often win local competitions, especially for their sausages, as well as doing well in national competitions. Of course, the nearby Wizards Butchery also places in many of those competitions and is worth visiting as well.
Don't forget to pick up some local fruit and vegetables while you are there. Tenterfield tends to be best for stone fruits such as Apricots, Nectarines, Peaches, Plums and Cherries. You can pick you own at some orchards such as Cherry Dale.
Nature and National Parks
Tenterfield is surrounded by national parks and state reserves. There are far too many to list here and far too many for most people to even visit. There are a number of stand out locations though.
The national park most associated with Tenterfield is Bald Rock. This is the place to go for interesting hikes, views and geographical features. The most popular hike is to the top of the eponymous Bald Rock. The easy route takes about 40 minutes. There are also shorter and longer hikes in the park as well, most notably to Little Bald Rock which features a number of large rocks on top of a rock feature.
Photo of the view from Bald Rock courtesy of Wikimedia (Cas Liber_
If views and swimming are more your thing then Boonoo Boonoo National Park, which is just across the road from Bald Rock National Park, is the place to visit. Boonoo Boonoo Falls has a great lookout and up above the falls are a series of large rock pools that are great for swimming.
The rock pools at Boonoo Boonoo National Park are a great place for a summer dip
Let's not forget Girraween National Park. Tenterfield tourist information usually forgets this park, but that might be because it is across the border in Queensland. Once again rock formations and boulders feature here, though they are perhaps more interesting than those at Bald Rock. There are also a number of nice rock pools for swimming here as well.
Photo of Girraween rock formations courtesy of Wikipedia (Cas Liber)
For Queenslanders, remember that New South Wales National Parks are all have a fee. They generally cost $8 per car and there is a collection box for you to put the money in. It helps if you remember to bring correct change with you.
Tenterfield is wine country. If you head to a bar such as the Commercial Boutique Hotel, they have a wide selection of local craft beers and wines and will provide you with plenty of advise about local wines. Their excellent dinner menu gives a recommendation for a wine with each meal.
However you probably want to head out to the various wineries in the area. Kurrajong Downs is one of the most famous. This winery is open during the day from Thursday to Monday. Detswood Wines opens on Weekends during the daytime, but if you are passing by and wish to pick up some wines from the cellar door, feel free to give them a call.
There are a number of farms around Tenterfield that you can visit, shop at or stay. Cherrydale Orchards is open to the public from November to February. Pop in for cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums. Another great farm to visit is Aloomba Lavender. November to December is the peak time to wander around the lavender. Don't forget to visit the gift shop or enjoy coffee on the deck. Aloomba Lavender also offers camp sites and bed & breakfast style accommodation.
Another farm stay option is the Historic Roseneath Station. You can just stay an in the self-contained accommodation or have a full farm involvement experience in the fully refurbished shearer's quarters. Tents and camper vans are also welcome.
When visiting the area you can either stay in the town or out in the countryside. Staying in town is a great option because there are bakeries that open at 6:30 am and most cafes open from 7 to 8 am. There are also 2 supermarkets and numerous restaurants. At night it is fairly quiet but the pubs stay open for meals and on weekends have music.
There are several pub hotels in town One interesting choice is the new refurbished Commercial Boutique Hotel. This newly revamped hotel has a front bar that is great for drinks and live entertainment on weekends, a lounge bar more for light meals and a great restaurant. Upstairs there are beautiful rooms. Basic rooms include sitting room, bedroom and bathroom with rain showers. Some rooms come with fireplaces and baths. Even if you don't stay here, do pop in for drinks, a snack or a meal.
For a stylish bed and breakfast option, the Historic Stannum House is a great place to stay. After this home was turned into a boarding house, it has been bought and refurnished as a bed & breakfast. There are several rooms. One with an ensuite and each of the others with a private bathroom that is accessed via a shared hall. There is also a communal lounge if you want to watch TV and chat with others visitors.
The historic Stannum House is one of the most stylish bed & breakfasts in Tenterfield
If you prefer to say out of town, there are several great options. Aloomba Lavender is a great stop over for coffee and cake, but they also have bed & breakfast accommodation and camp sites. Only 7 kms from Tenterfield, Hill Top Farm has both self-contained cottages as well as farm stay accommodation. Mistral Hill is a country cottage just outside of Tenterfield. While the cottage is self-contained you can also order breakfast, lunch and dinner hampers as well.
Of course one of the cheapest options is camping. The three main national parks in the area have camp grounds. Of these Boonoo Boonoo has one of the best, because it is separate from the day use area (8 kms by road or 7 kms by walking track) and has little rock pools to swim and bath in next to the campsite. However many people I know favour camping at Girraween instead.
The creek beside the Boonoo Boonoo camping area has many places to swim
Closer to town the Tenterfield Lodge Caravan Park has a range of cabins, powered and unpowered caravan sites and tent sites. This is a cheap option if you want to stay close to Tenterfield.
A trip to Tenterfield is a great scenic drive. The quickest way from Brisbane is via Aratula, Cunninghams Gap, Warwick and Stanthorpe. As you can imagine this route gives you plenty of places to stop, shop and see the sights. Depending on what time you leave in the morning, there are many places to stop for lunch. The main disadvantages is that beyond Warwick you have to share the road with interstate trucks.
The Cunningham Highway often is the fastest way from Brisbane to Tenterfield
A more direct route is via Beaudesert and the Mount LIndesay Road. This is the more scenic route as it does not go through any major towns between Beuadesert and Tenterfield and is mostly winding country road.
If you are visiting Tenterfield as part of longer road trip, you can also follows routes that go through Toowoomba, Lismore and Byron Bay. However Tenterfield makes for a nice long weekend trip. If you meander you way up on Friday, stay in town over on Friday, enjoy the shops and cafes on Saturday and meander your way back on Sunday.