Tag Archive | Tenterfield

Off-Season ~ Weekly Photo Challenge

The Tenterfield area is best known for its lush pastures, which produce excellent beef and lamb.


There are also several popular wineries in the district. Prior to harvest season, the vines are protected by heavy netting. It stops the birds from stealing the ripening fruit and, should there be storms, also prevents damage from hail.



Weekly Photo Challenge – Off-Season

Found in the Ground

South of Tenterfield is the New England Tableland, where there are subtle changes in the landscape. The massive granite outcrop known as The Bluff dominates the New England Highway, but fewer granite boulders punctuate the farmland.



There are underground riches on the tableland and fossickers have been coming here for more than 150 years in search of gold, tin and sapphires. Emmaville, 78 km south of Tenterfield, is one small country town with a rich mining history. Tin was discovered in the area in 1872 and a flourishing settlement of 7000 grew around the minefields.

There’s little evidence today of the mining history of the town, except for the fascinating collection of rocks and minerals at the Emmaville Mining Museum. The precious collection once belonged to the local bakers Mr and Mrs Jack Curnow, who bequeathed it to the town with the request that a mining museum be created. Located in the old Foley’s Store building, the museum houses the Curnow collection along with more than 200 photographs recording the lives of the people who mined the tin.




It wasn’t only tin mined in the Emmaville district. The Ottery Mine, just out of town, first opened in 1882 when tin was discovered, but arsenic was mined here from 1920 to 1936.


Arsenic was used in the early 20th century to control prickly pear and then during World War 1 in the production of munitions. The men who worked in the mine adopted safety procedures including wearing silk underwear and wooden soled shoes in an attempt to avoid poisoning, although it was believed that a small amount of exposure was good for curing minor ailments. After the war, demand for arsenic decreased as other safer products came into use and eventually mining ceased. Since closing in 1957, the mine has been abandoned, but it has been made safe for visitors by the NSW Department of Mineral Resources. From the paths, the fenced off underground workings of the mine are visible.



Deposits of crystallised arsenic concentrates on the brickwork of the old refinery glitter in the sunshine, but don’t be tempted to take some home; it’s as toxic now as it was in 1936.



Boulders and Bushrangers

Tenterfield is the northern gateway to the New England Tableland district of New South Wales. Underlying the area is a layer of blue granite known as Stanthorpe Adamellite, formed after violent volcanic eruptions about 250 million years ago. Since then, weathering and erosion have created a dramatic landscape of granite boulders, huge rocky outcrops and sheltered caves with a secretive past, all within an easy drive of the town.


The lookout on Mt Mackenzie, half an hour from Tenterfield offers a stunning bird’s eye view of the area. The unsealed road is in good condition and winds through fertile grazing land dotted with large granite formations. Some boulders, bigger than cars, balance inexplicably, while others perch precariously one on top of another. From the top of the mountain, at 1298 metres above sea level, the view takes in the national parks of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, with Tenterfield nestled in between.



Boonoo Boonoo National Park, 27 kilometres north of Tenterfield, is one of several parks located on the border between Queensland and New South Wales. Pronounced ‘Bunna Boonoo’, the park’s name means ‘big rocks’ in the local Aboriginal language, and the river of the same name makes its way over massive slabs of granite to the cliff edge, where it falls 210 metres into the gorge.


There are easy walking tracks, shallow rock pools for swimming and plenty of quiet places to sit and listen to the birds or search for delicate wildflowers. The famous Australian poet A. B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson proposed to his sweetheart, a local girl named Alice Walker, at Boonoo Boonoo Falls Lookout before they were married in Tenterfield in 1903.


A much more notorious Australian with a connection to the Tenterfield district was Frederick Ward, more commonly known as the bushranger Captain Thunderbolt. In the late 1860s he held up mail coaches and robbed travellers throughout the New England area. The rocky landscape, with caves high in the hills, provided many hideouts for the bushranger and the one near Tenterfield is easy to visit. It’s an easy walk up to the caves where he sheltered from the weather and the constabulary. The view from the top of the rocks explains why Thunderbolt chose this place; it’s the perfect vantage point to look down onto the main road, along which the mail coaches carried bounty from the gold fields.



With a chilly autumnal wind blowing off the top of the rocks it’s not hard to imagine how unpleasant life would have been on the run. I would have made a terrible bushranger!

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.


Weekly Photo Challenge – Thankful

At the top of my sister’s list of the best inventions in history is the flushing toilet and she says she is thankful every time she uses one. But after a long walk in the Australian bush on a warm afternoon any loo will do. We were very thankful to find this environmentally friendly version at Mt Mackenzie Lookout near Tenterfield in northern New South Wales.