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.