What’s so appealing about Armidale is that it’s a cosmopolitan and sophisticated urban centre located in a picturesque rural setting on the doorstep of some of the most scenic national parks in Australia.
Explore natural wonders
One of Armidale’s best kept secrets is that there are four national parks, each with extraordinary natural attractions, all within an hour’s drive from the city centre. There’s a monumental tumble of giant granite boulders to climb in the Cathedral Rock National Park. And, along the aptly named Waterfall Way, Ebor Falls in the Guy Fawkes River National Park is one of several majestic waterfalls to admire. Much of the extensive wilderness in the New England and Oxley Wild Rivers National Parks is World Heritage listed. When you spy the views from Point Lookout in the New England National Park and walk along the trails that wind through temperate rainforest there, or, hike through the spectacular gorges and encounter dramatic waterfalls and hundreds of kilometres of pristine waterways in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, you’ll see why.
Only a ten minute drive out of town is Saumarez Homestead, a great place to experience 19th-century pastoral life. It’s best to allow at least half a day to explore this gem of a National Trust property that remains virtually unchanged from the old days when a workforce of many families with all sorts of skills made the homestead almost self-sufficient. Most of the food was grown, harvested or slaughtered on the property. Trees were felled to provide wood for cooking, heating and building. Water was pumped from the wells or the creek. Transport was supplied by station-bred horses, shod from the on-site blacksmith’s shop with its leather bellows and anvil.
Dangars Falls picnic area
A perfect bush setting on the Northern Tablelands, the Dangars Falls picnic area has dramatic views over the deep ravines and gorges of the northern edge of the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.
In spring, the cliff tops come alive with the colour of wildflowers. You might need to take a closer look, as some are only tiny. After a downpour the mighty falls come alive, plunging 120m into the ravine, filling it with mist and rainbows.
After a lazy picnic lunch or barbecue, spend a relaxing afternoon by the river where the kids can dip their toes and watch the fish. Or if you feeling like stretching your legs, try McDirtys walking track.
Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, near Armidale, spoils you with World Heritage-listed Gondwana rainforest, dramatic gorges and magnificent waterfalls. It’s perfect for walking, camping, bike or horse riding, and fishing.
Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area features rare dry rainforest, dramatic gorges and waterfalls, extensive wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers and an amazing array of wildlife. It’s best explored as a scenic drive along the Waterfall Way.
Explore the Apsley Macleay Gorges, one of Australia’s largest gorge systems with incredible ridge top views and visit Wollomombi, the highest waterfall in NSW and a place sure to lift your spirit. Bushwalkers will love the multi-day Green Gully walk that takes in the park’s spectacular landscape and includes overnight accommodation in heritage-listed stockman’s huts. For those seeking heritage accommodation that is slightly more luxurious, East Kunderang Homestead is sure to impress.
Everything in the park is best seen up close – immerse your senses and yourself in this wild place while you camp, walk, paddle, picnic, cycle, horse ride, fish or swim.
Saumarez Homestead, a historic country homestead and ten-hectare property, was first inhabited by British settlers led by Henry Dumaresq in the 1830s. Today it includes an elegant, fully furnished Edwardian mansion, built between 1888 and 1906, and 15 farm and other buildings dating up to 1910, with their collections of early farm equipment.
In 1874 the property was purchased by Francis White, whose eldest son, Francis John White took over management, spending his life developing Saumarez and its associated holdings into one of the largest and most successful rural properties of New England.
Bring a picnic and enjoy a stroll through the extensive English-style gardens and Mary White’s garden, with its Jocelyn Brown-style cottage garden, the picking garden, lawns and Heritage Rose Garden with over 600 heritage roses, which is looked after by the Australian Garden History Society.
Where to stay depends on how far into the wilderness you’re prepared to go for the night. You can, on one hand, descend into wilderness gorge country to camp in the company of wildlife and shower under waterfalls, or, on the other hand, head for the country and relax in a lovely cottage or historic homestead guesthouse with plump feather pillows, antique furniture and home cooked meals. There are comfortable middle ground options too, such as motels, hotels, bed and breakfasts and self-catering apartments within walking distance to all the in-town action.
It comes as no surprise then to find there’s a lively appreciation of the arts here. The New England Conservatorium, New England Regional Art Museum, Hoskins Centre, Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place, the University and a talented crowd of local and visiting musicians, artists, actors and enthusiasts ensure that the calendar is chock full of inspiring events and festivals.
The past has a place in modern-day Armidale. Gracious cathedrals and stately buildings dating from the 1860s reflect the lofty aspirations of the early settlers and remain a hive of activity today. But the best way to learn about the history of the city is to hop onboard a free Armidale Heritage Tour bus for an entertaining 2½ hour narrated sightseeing jaunt that takes in the most important sites.
Armidale is home to the University of New England, an institution that has attracted students and faculty from across the globe since its establishment as a university college in 1938, is a major reason for the sophisticated, cosmopolitan feel about the place. With the University, TAFE, four prestigious private schools as well as public schools all achieving results, Armidale is also widely known as a centre of education excellence.
New England Regional Art Museum
The New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) is the public regional gallery located in Armidale in the heart of the New England North West region of New South Wales.
Visitors to NERAM can experience exhibitions drawn from three important collections of Australian art: the Howard Hinton Collection, the Chandler Coventry Collection and the NERAM Collection. Together they offer a comprehensive overview of Australian art history unmatched in regional Australia.
These art collections include significant works by Australian and international artists such as Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts, Elioth Gruner, Margaret Preston, Brett Whiteley, James Gleeson, Tony Tuckson and Christo, to name just a few.
The Gallery also shows touring exhibitions from around Australia and the work of artists from the New England region.
Discover the delicious art of food at the NERAM Cafe and browse for gifts and souvenirs at the Museum Shop.
Go behind the scenes with an Art Storeroom tour at NERAM, discover artworks by leading Australian artists with an experienced volunteer guide. A great opportunity for social, educational, community, cultural and business groups and clubs. Groups only and bookings essential. Charges apply.
Function bookings also available for meetings and events.
Entry by donation.
Armidale and Region Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place
The Armidale and Region Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place showcases a diverse range of Australian Indigenous arts and culture.
Visitors can view articles of interest from New England and exhibits from regional NSW. Touring exhibitions from major galleries and museums are also a feature of their program.
Traditional Aboriginal paintings are for sale all year round and the well-stocked gift shop offers Aboriginal artefacts and gifts.
The centre also offers cultural tours, and run a wide range of Aboriginal cultural activities in their workshops. While entry to the centre is free, cultural tours and Aboriginal cultural activities do attract a cost. Bookings are essential and minimum numbers apply for these activities.
For more information please contact the Centre on the number supplied.
The Guided Heritage Tour is a two and a half – three hour taster of Armidale. You will be taken on a historical journey through Armidale with a lively and personal commentary from one of the tour guides.
There are four opportunities to alight from the bus – at the New England Regional Art Museum, Aboriginal Cultural Centre, and the University of New England’s historic Booloominbah Homestead.
In between these stops, as you drive slowly past, you will be given the descriptions and history of many of the old and beautiful buildings that grace the City of Armidale. Some of the buildings that you will see include cathedrals and churches, private and public schools, historic hotels and public buildings, monuments and memorials. These buildings are all within viewing distance of the bus and your guide will tell you their entertaining and interesting stories.
Bookings are recommended, the tour operates on donations. Not suitable for children under four.
Contact the Visitor Information Centre on the phone number provided to make a booking.
Explore a new destination for great food and drink
If you’re wondering where to eat, stylish cafés buzz with activity and serve up great coffee and delicious meals all day. Restaurants, clubs and pubs also offer a wide range of contemporary Australian and international cuisines, often featuring food and wine produced in the surrounding countryside.
Making the most of the fresh air is easy to do in Armidale. Here, for example, you can enjoy energetic outdoor pursuits in nearby national parks, or a challenging round of golf on Armidale Golf Club’s 18-hole championship course, where you’ll also be surrounded by peaceful bushland and the odd kangaroo. The Club has a resident professional on hand to help you improve your stroke or choose the right gear, and a restaurant where relaxing over drinks or a meal finishes off a great day out on the greens.
The Welders Dog Armidale
Experience a huge range of craft beverages, local, regional, and international craft beers and local award-winning wines and spirits.
They are all about a culture of experience – the experience of new tastes, new brewers and a new atmosphere.
They also believe in supporting independent brewers and local wineries and you’ll find an ever changing list of Australian producers on tap and in their fridge.
Their goal at the Great Hops Brewery Armidale is to make amazing, flavourful beers.
Great Hops Brewing co is not here to reinvent the wheel, but they are here to make good beer great. Their focus is to take classic styles of beer from around the world and put their unique Australian spin on them.
Think American beer culture with waffle fries, wings and slow-cooked brisket, partnered with a solid range of IPA, ale, stout, lager and a few German classics.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land and pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging.
The Armidale Regional Community pays tribute to their love of land, love of people, and love of culture.