The scenic drive from New England to Coffs Harbour
Situated halfway between Sydney and Brisbane on the New England Highway, the city of Armidale is a far cry from your average country town.
As a university centre and major conference hub, it attracts students, academics and corporate delegates from all over the world for short and long-term stays. As such, the city is imbued with a sense of cosmopolitan energy and sophistication – evidenced by the funky cafes, trendy restaurants and student pubs lining the city mall, as well as an on-going program of literary functions, live theatre, classical and jazz performances, rock concerts, art exhibitions and more.
This metropolitan lifestyle is set against a backdrop of beautifully preserved historical buildings – stately manor houses, country seats, cathedrals, private homes, public buildings – designed by some of Australia’s leading colonial architects back in the early days.
Adding a further dimension is the spectacular New England high country, stretching out in all directions from the city. To the east, lush pastures drop away suddenly in a series of deep gorges and chasms blanketed in a wilderness of waterfalls, wild rivers and World Heritage rainforests. To the north and south, rolling tablelands are dotted with historic villages and stately country properties. And to the west, rambling rivers point the way to the vast western plains.
Armidale city attractions
Armidale is known as ‘the Third City of the Arts’. For a cultural cross-section of what the city has to offer, mix-n-match your own combination of the following:
Hinton’s legendary art legacy – The New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) in Armidale is home to the legendary Howard Hinton Collection, once described by Norman Lindsay as ‘the only complete collection of Australian art in the country’. The 1200-piece collection includes priceless works by Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts, William Dobell, Nora Heysen, JJ Hilder and more, donated piece-by-piece to the Armidale Teachers’ College by a penniless Sydney shipping clerk between 1928 and his death in 1948. It is complemented by the Chandler Coventry Collection of works from the 1960s to 1980s, including pieces by Brett Whiteley, Peter Booth, etc. The two collections are so large that they cannot be displayed all at one time but NERAM holds regular exhibitions showcasing various elements and loans pieces to touring exhibitions.
Live on stage – Strongly influenced by the university community, Armidale has an extensive program of cultural events running throughout the year. These include classical music performances, jazz concerts, live theatre, literary launches, poetry readings, art exhibitions, arthouse films and workshops in everything from belly dancing to drum making and drum playing.
Cool climate wines – Petersons Wines (of Hunter Valley fame) are helping to establish Armidale as a new wine region. Their Armidale vineyard was planted in 1998 and comprises seven varieties of grapes. In 2004, they opened a cellar door tasting facility in the heritage-listed stables at the historic Dangar family homestead, 4km south of Armidale. They are currently in the process of renovating the homestead itself, which will open as a five-star boutique guesthouse later this year.
Food fetishes – Armidale has a host of excellent restaurants that have rated honourable mentions in the SMH Good Food Guide, Gourmet Traveller’s Restaurant Guide and other reviews. ‘Must tries’ include the motels, Squires Cottage Restaurant, The Flying Duck Spanish, Fusion, Ind Oz Foodstore, and some of the hotel meals, many of which showcase regional specialties such as the ultra-tender New England lamb and beef, and locally-caught Rainbow Trout.
Heritage streetscapes – Armidale’s heritage-listed cathedrals, public buildings, homes and colleges are centrally located to suit an historic walk or drive tour. Tourism Armidale also offers a free City Heritage Tour around town every day, led by volunteer history buffs.
Booloominbah House – Designed by leading architect of the day, John Horbury Hunt, and built between 1883 and 1888 as a country manor house for Frederick Robert White, this 45-room mansion now serves as the University of New England’s administration centre. Distinctive architectural features include Hunt’s trademark decorative brickwork, gargoyles, wooden wall tiles, high gabled roof ends and exquisite stained glass in the famous Gordon Window. Visitors are welcome to tour the property and can dine in several restaurants/cafes on site.
Saumarez Homestaed – Built between 1888 and 1906 for pastoralist FJ White, Saumarez Homestead is a significant example of early Victorian/Edwardian architecture. It has been fully restored with its original furnishings, English-style gardens and extensive buildings, and is open daily for conducted tours from September to June. The property also houses a National Trust shop and a tearoom.
Unique museums – Armidale is home to several significant collections, housed in attractions such as the Armidale Folk Museum (horse-drawn vehicles, early domestic items and a display of rooms), the 12/16 Hunter River Lancers and 24th Light Horse Memorial Museum (military memorabilia) and the UNE Heritage Centre (family history research facilities). Of particular note – keeping in mind that this is regional Australia – is the UNE’s Museum of Antiquities containing archaeological artefacts from ancient civilisations as far back as 100,000 BC.
See Attached Calender for detailed information
The Armidale Accommodation Guide is your guide to accommodation in and around Armidale in NSW. Armidale has a range of accommodation, including:
As well, there is on campus accommodation at the University of New England (UNE) and rental accommodation available through Real Estate Agents.
Consider the following accommodation venues
Important Information About Armidale
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