Birthplace of a Nation

Close to home #2 Tenterfield

It’s always lovely to go on a long holiday to a far flung destination. There are times, however, when it’s not convenient or cost effective and a staycation, closer to home, is the way to go. The destinations in this series of posts are all within a couple of hours’ drive of our home. They’re easy to get to, there’s plenty to see and do and at the end of the holiday we’re home again in no time.

The streets of the country town of Tenterfield are lined with old oak trees and, by Easter, the leaves are already starting to turn. The mornings are fresh, the air is crisp and there’s smoke rising from the chimneys of the heritage listed homes; there are more than 100 buildings of historical significance in the town.




Tenterfield, in northern New South Wales, takes its place in Australian history as the town where the colonies took their first steps towards Federation. Sir Henry Parkes, who had served as the Premier of New South Wales, delivered his “Tenterfield Oration” in support of nationhood at the School of Arts on 24 October, 1889. A museum in the School of Arts has recreated the room where Parkes gave his famous speech and includes many photographs and documents of the time.  Even though Parkes was the member for Tenterfield from 1882 to 1884 he never lived there.




Another notable Australian with a Tenterfield connection was the flamboyant singer/songwriter Peter Allen. He was born in Tenterfield in 1944 and his grandfather George Woolnough was the saddler from 1908 to 1960. Allen immortalised George in the moving ballad “Tenterfield Saddler”. George’s small stone workshop stands on High Street, and the current Tenterfield saddler continues to ply his trade using traditional methods.



At the end of High Street is Railway Street, location of the Tenterfield Railway Station. Although the station was closed in 1989 after 103 years on the Great Northern Line between Sydney and Brisbane, it’s as though time has stood still here. Preserved in its original 19th century state, the Victorian Gothic building is now a railway museum, with a display of railway artefacts, a model railway and prize winning gardens on the platform.


Pick up a brochure at the Visitor Information Centre and follow the Tenterfield Historic Walk, which includes these historical sites and many other important buildings. It’s the perfect way to spend a couple of hours on an autumn afternoon.


22 thoughts on “Birthplace of a Nation

  1. Yes, I’ll confess the first thing that ran through my head when I saw your post was the Peter Allen song. (Literally. I am a severe sufferer of earworms prompted by phrases and words. Sigh.)

    Is Tenterfield Railway Station ever used as a period movie location? It looks so well preserved (as you said) so I would think it very handy. Especially with so many other historical buildings in the town as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha. Sorry to do that to you, but at least it’s a nice song to have going through your head. I read recently that the way to get rid of that is to chew on something.
      I don’t know if it’s used as a movie location but it would certainly be appropriate.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for this. I’m glad you have places nearby so beautiful visit. I would love to see Tenterfield some day.
    Dena@gatheringflavors (

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel educated by this. Thank you.

    But for the tin roof, the buildings in the third photo could so easily be in England. I suspect that if I were to visit I would feel slightly disconnected because of the similarity to the English sensibility.


    • Most of our old architecture is English in style, but it quickly changed to suit the Australian climate. The broad veranda on the house in the second picture is typical, also the veranda on the Saddler’s place. I think you would enjoy seeing how things changed over time, especially in Queensland where many old homes were raised on stilts to keep them cooler.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well, our history of settlement is British and they built what they knew. Most of these buildings are mid-19th century so they are very definitely British in design. It did change though to suit the climate. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. There’s more to come!


  4. Interesting and picturesque town. It’s been a while since I passed through and your post makes me think I should go again, but think I will wait till the weather warms up again… When you mention Peter Allen I think of that other hunky Aussie, Hugh Jackman…

    Liked by 1 person

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