Armidale is an charming and pleasant town with tree-lined streets where the University with New England ‘s urban culture mingles with a large rural business hub at the center of prosperous, old traditional pastoralism. This is the Northern Tablelands’ commercial hub and the largest city in the Southern New South Wales region of New England.
Armidale is situated 475 km north of Sydney on New England Highway, and 460 km southwest of Brisbane. It is 980 meters above sea level, and home to Australia’s highest commercial airport. Armidale is named after G.J. Macdonald, the Crown Lands Commissioner, who wanted to call the area around the city after the “Armadale” estate of the Macdonald on Skye Island.
The region has four distinct seasons and as the imported birch, ash and poplar set the district ablaze with reds, golds and browns in the fall, it is as New England in the USA. The landscape around Armidale encompasses trees, mountain gorges, waterfalls (Wollombi Falls is one of Australia’s highest), and four national parks. Armidale is also renowned for its beautiful town parks, schools, and spectacular Anglican and Catholic cathedrals.
The Armidale area boasts impressive waterfalls, gorges, national parks of world heritage, cool climate vineyards and a rich and diverse cultural heritage. In Armidale, there is plenty taking place every day of the year. Festivals, music , theatre, fun for kids, markets, book fairs, major sporting events and all in between. Hiking, biking, birdwatching, trout fishing and other outdoor activities are all taking on an interesting new dimension. And then when you come inside to discover galleries, museums, great food and wine, you will be delighted all over again.
The Armidale area features a rich mix of fine culture, quality produce, and interesting activities that anyone will appreciate.
The Anaiwan Indigenous people have been fishing and gathering on the tablelands of Armidale for thousands of years. John Oxley, a British explorer, climbed the mountains on horseback in 1818 and camped near Apsley Falls for some time. He mentioned the ‘parkland’ he discovered in his diary on the plateau, and the European founder march which followed changed the region forever.
In 1846 Armidale was formally declared a settlement. A few years back, the completion of the railroad at Rocky River and Hillgrove and the finding of gold heralded a development and construction boom. Valuable minerals and metals have been found at other places across the country, including tin, and hundreds of Chinese have joined the workforce, bringing another layer to the cultural mix.
It was a productive few decades and the heritage architecture of Armidale, in particular, represents the ambitious ideals of those pioneers in the late 19th century. Amongst these earliest buildings to grace the city center were the Anglican and Catholic cathedrals, along with the stately post office, state bank and courthouse, all still being used currently.
In New England, from esteemed galleries of antiques and Australian sculpture to seminars for artists, cutting-edge experimental theatre and outstanding music services , entertainment and the arts are omnipresent. In the museums and galleries of the city, and on any range of stages and displays, you can find there is still something exciting happening. The New England Regional Art Museum in Armidale is a pleasant and inspiring place for visitors of all ages to spend a few hours away. The museum is the steward of some 5000 pieces of art, such as the acquisitions of Howard Hinton, Chandler Coventry, and NERAM.
Consider the highway and enjoy a plethora of fresh seasonal produce and award-winning cool climate wines. Farmers, fishermen, butchers, bakers, cheese makers and even a chocolatier are among an increasing variety of small businesses selling tasty artisanal products, suitable for picnic baskets and homemade meals. Luckily, much of the food that is produced here makes its way from ‘pasture to pot’ and to community eateries’ tables. Including small family restaurants , cafés, clubs and bars to fine dining rooms and cellar door facilities, New England provides a diverse range of food choices and cuisines.
Envision a place where the geology and ecology are extraordinary, where you can climb huge rock structures, wander in rainforests, meet unusual animals, see mighty waterfalls, camp in the mountains, paddle wild rivers and enjoy countless spectacular views. Much of this is part of the New England journey – hundreds of thousands of acres of national parks and state forests are to be discovered. National parks in New England feature a vast canyon forest of over 500 kilometers of wild and scenic waterways. Discover a spectacular natural paradise with breathtaking waterfalls, rainforests and native flora and fauna.
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