Tenterfield (including Wallangarra)
Historic and interesting town on the Northern Tablelands
Tenterfield, 715 km north-east of Sydney and 275 km south of Brisbane, is a town of deciduous trees which are seen to best effect in autumn. It is situated in a shallow valley 882 metres above sea-level at the northern end of the New England Tablelands in an area of rugged mountains and rural vistas. It proclaims itself 'The Birthplace of the Nation' as Henry Parkes chose this spot to deliver his crucial Federation speech of 1889, which led to the establishment of Australia as a unified nation in 1901.

The Tenterfield area is devoted to sheep and cattle though orchards, farm crops, a silica mine and a growing tourism sector all contribute to the local economy. The current population is 3500.

The original inhabitants, the Jukembal Aborigines, reputedly called the area 'Moombillen', meaning 'place of wild honey'. The first European in the area was Allan Cunningham who passed by about 25 km west of the present townsite when returning from his exploration of the Darling Downs in 1827.

The first white settlers arrived in the late 1830s. The Deepwater station to the south was taken up in 1839 and the run later known as Tenterfield was first occupied in 1840. It has been argued that a Mr Templer was the first owner, naming the property 'Templerfield'.

Robert Ramsay Mackenzie took up the run in 1840 and was granted legal title in 1842, although he was then in business with Stuart Donaldson who acquired the property in 1844. Both men later became state premiers. Donaldson allegedly suggested the name 'Tenterfield' after the property of two maiden aunts in Scotland.

A bullock dray track to the coast was completed in 1842. By 1848 Tenterfield covered 100 000 acres. In 1851 Donaldson fought in the last known duel in Australia against surveyor-general Sir Thomas Mitchell. After three shots a draw was called and no-one was injured, though Donaldson's hat was reputedly shot off. Possibly the duel was complicated by Mitchell declaring the township of Tenterfield on Donaldson's station.

From 1847 until the late 1860s most of the wool of New England district passed through Tenterfield en route to the coast. Court hearings were established at Tenterfield in 1847. In 1849 a post office was set up and the first publican's license was issued for the Georges Inn (on the site now occupied by the Royal Hotel). A townsite was surveyed on the Tenterfield station that year. It was gazetted as Tenterfield in 1851, by which time there were some police buildings and huts. In 1854 the first land sales took place and a flour mill was built. In 1856 the population was recorded as 133.

Gold was discovered at Drake in 1858, sparking other discoveries in the district. This proved a boost to the township which acquired a bank in 1859 and an Anglican church in 1860.

The bushranger known as 'Thunderbolt' (Fred Ward) was in the Tenterfield area in 1868. It is believed he may have attended the Tenterfield races. One story claims that, after holding up a group of German musicians who were headed for Queensland and who pleaded with him not to proceed with the robbery, Thunderbolt promised that if he had luck at the horse races he would repay them with interest. He allegedly obtained their Queensland address and duly sent them their money back, with interest.


Tenterfield was declared a municipality in 1871. The town further prospered from alluvial tin mining in the 1870s with the population almost doubling. 1886 saw the arrival of the railway.

The most memorable single event in the town's history occurred at the Tenterfield School of Arts in 1889 when five-times premier of NSW, Henry Parkes delivered his famous speech calling for the federation of the Australian colonies. This is credited with setting off the chain of events which culminated in the declaration of the Australian Commonwealth in 1901.

J.F. Thomas, the man who defended 'Breaker' Morant, was a native of Tenterfield and, for 16 years, was the owner of the local newspaper, the 'Tenterfield Star' which pressed for Federation and was the first country paper to advocate the formation of the Country Party. Poet 'Banjo' Paterson was married here in 1903 in the timber Presbyterian (now Uniting) Church.

Noted Australian entertainer Peter Allen was also born here in 1944 as Peter Woolnough, the grandson of George Woolnough, celebrated in Allen's song 'Tenterfield Saddler'. Allen was discovered by Judy Garland in 1964, was briefly married to her daughter Liza Minnelli, and became highly successful both in Australia and the United States. He died in 1992.

The town's Agricultural Show is held annually in January or February. Other events are Oracles of the Bush, focusing on the poetry and music of the bush, the Autumn Colour festival in mid-April, Jack Frost Time in July-August and, in October, the Spring Wine Festival, the Highland Gathering, and Springtime in the Highlands (aka The Federation Festival).

Things to see:

Visitors' Information Centre
The information centre is located at 157 Rouse St (the New England Highway), on the corner with Miles St. It is open seven days from 9.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (02) 6736 1082. Here you can obtain a self-guided heritage walk pamphlet. Inquiries can be made here concerning group tours of local orchards, farmstays, and guided tours to sites of Aboriginal significance within the Bald Rock and Boonoo Boonoo National Parks.

Sir Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts
On the corner of Manners and Rouse Sts is the Sir Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts. The building was completed in 1876 and was used as a working man's institute. In 1889 it became one of the most famous buildings in New South Wales when Henry Parkes (who had been premier of NSW five times) delivered a famous speech about the future federation of Australia. He called for a nation which would be both cohesive and united. Historians regard this speech as the official beginning of the movement which culminated in Federation eleven years later and produced the Australian Commonwealth in 1901. The museum houses a collection of Parkes memorabilia. It is open weekdays from 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., tel: (02) 6736 1454.

Post Office
Over the road is the two-storey, rendered brick post office (1881), a Victorian Classical building with a metal mansard roof, arched colonnades and clock tower. Also at this corner is the Exchange Hotel (1890).

Mill Cottage
At Manners and Crown St is 'The Mill Cottage' (c.1870), a private residence which was formerly a rendered cement flour mill from the days when Tenterfield was a major wheat grower.

Law and Order
Head north along Scott St and turn right into Molesworth St where you will find the masonry courthouse (1882), designed by James Barnet, with an outstanding glass skylight. The trees were planted in the 1880s. To the rear of the courthouse, facing Martin St, are the gaol with its unusual masonry dormer, the police station and the brick police and warden's residences (1874), the whole complex being integrated by fencing and landscaping.

Rouse Street
At the end of the block turn left into Rouse St. To the left is the Criterion Hotel (1872). On the other side of the road is the Masonic Lodge (1877). It was initially headed by Edward Whereat who, in 1842, stood down from the safe seat of Tenterfield so that Henry Parkes could re-enter politics. Cross over Molesworth St. In the next block, to the left, is the State Bank building (1891).

High Street and The Tenterfield Saddler
Turn left into High St, once the town's main thoroughfare. To the right, at no.123, is The Saddler's Shop which achieved widespread fame through the song 'Tenterfield Saddler', written by Tenterfield-born Peter Allen as a tribute to his grandfather, George Woolnough, who plied his business here from 1908 until his retirement in 1960.

Made of locally quarried, hand-cut blue granite with 50-cm thick walls, the building was erected in the 1860s and initially served as a residence before becoming the premises of the Australian Joint Stock Bank in 1874. In original condition, the doors and joinery are of red cedar. It is still a saddlery specialising in quality hand-made saddles and Australian clothing, open from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. daily.

Just past the saddlery is Grogans Welding Shop, built in 1867. Opposite are some 19th-century terrace shops.

Centenary Museum and Art Gallery
The Centenary Cottage Museum and Art Gallery is a 7-room stone cottage erected c. 1871 for blacksmith Michael Egan. It now houses a local history collection, including antiquated tools and machinery, both domestic and agricultural. Petrie Cottage, adjacent, is an old worker's slab cottage with period furnishings. The two front rooms were built c. 1860. The museum is open weekends from 12.00 - 4.00 p.m., Wednesdays and public holidays from 10.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m., or by appointment, tel: (02) 6736 1082.

The art gallery is a memorial to Sir Harry Chauvel who founded the Australian Light Horse Brigade. The money for the building was bequeathed by his sister Lillian whose own artworks are held by the gallery.

Clarence and Wood Sts
Head east along High St then veer left into Clarence St. On the left, at no.14, is Deloraine (1874), a fine stone building possibly intended by its original owner, William Patrick, as a synagogue which could serve as the focal point of the local Jewish community. It is now a bed-and-breakfast, tel: (02) 6736 3404. Opposite is Market Square, a pleasant spot for a picnic.

Turn into Wood St. Numbers 92 and 94 date from the 1870s. The former was once a school. The fine old cork tree in the next block was brought from England and planted in 1861.

Historic Homes
Turn left into Scott St then right into Douglas St. Almost to the immediate left is Claremont House, built c. 1875 as the home of parliamentarian Mr Charles Lee (after whom the town of Leeton is named) and named after his wife Clare.

Continue down Scott St to Clive St and turn left. At Clive and Rouse Sts is Stannum (1888), a beautiful Victorian villa with a Juliet balcony. Built by mining magnate John Holmes Reid it was once a military hospital. It is now open for tours and accommodation, tel: (02) 6736 3770, and is also a restaurant, tel: (02) 6736 3780.

Next door is Salisbury, built by distinguished citizen Isaac Whereat who founded the Agricultural Society and served in numerous public offices.

Railway Museum
The Tenterfield Railway Museum in Railway Ave, at the western edge of town, was built in 1886 when the railway line arrived at Tenterfield. The complex includes the station, station master's residence, goods shed, barracks, railway yard and signalling equipment. The station is made of stone and brick to a design by John Whitton emphasising the gables. The interior is largely original, including cedar joinery.

The station closed in 1989 but has been converted into a museum with railway memorabilia and a photographic collection. It is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m., Sundays from 12.00 - 4.00 p.m., all school and public holidays, and at other times by appointment. The motorised Trikes of Yesteryear operate on Saturdays, tel: (02) 6736 1082.

Thunderbolt's Hideout and the Brisbane Line
Some of the district's finest attractions lie to the north-east of town along the Mt Lindesay Road (an extension of Logan St).

12 km from town is a sign on the left-hand side of the road indicating the whereabouts of Thunderbolt's Hideout. The path to the hideout is clearly marked. It is about 300 metres from the parking area. Large granite boulders form two caves. It is believed that the bushranger Frederick Ward ['Thunderbolt') used the caves because the location offers an ideal vantage point and attacks on the north-south road can be planned easily. An information sheet at the visitors' centre outlines some exploits and local sites associated with the outlaw.

1 km up the road, to the left of the cement wall, are some upright posts. Designed as tank traps they are remnants of the Brisbane Line fortifications from World War II. This was the second line of defence in case of an invasion from the north. In the course of the war there were up to 10 000 troops stationed in the Tenterfield area.

Boonoo State Forest and Woollool Woollool Aboriginal Place
Further up the road, about 18 km from Tenterfield, you will come to Linbrook Rd, clearly signposted to the right, which leads through the Boonoo State Forest . Within the forest is a rest area known as the Basket Swamp and the Bark Hut Picnic and Camping Area.

Within a 370-ha reserve is Woollool Woollool, an impressive stone outcrop with one mushroom-shaped rock protruding above the other boulders (1040 m above sea-level at its peak). A spot of great natural beauty it is a designated sacred site of the Bundjalung people. Woollool Woollool was a 'wuyangali', a clever man with special rights to this centre of spiritual power. His spirit is reputed to have returned to the site upon his death, rendering it approachable for others.

During his 1840 expedition to the coast Thomas Hewitt noted the feature and decided it resembled the hat worn by Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo, hence its old European name of Wellington Lookout.

A dry weather road comes to within 3 km of the site with a 4WD track leading the remainder of the way. A map is indispensable, tel: (02) 6736 2540.

Boonoo Boonoo National Park
About 22 km from Tenterfield the Mt Lindesay Rd brings you to the locality of Boonoo Boonoo. Here a clearly signposted road on the right heads north-east to Boonoo Boonoo Falls where the Boonoo Boonoo River gathers in beautiful pools amidst green forest before plummeting 210 m into the gorge below. There is a picnic area and a graded walking track descends from the main parking area to a viewing platform with excellent views of the gorge and the falls. Poet 'Banjo' Paterson was a regular visitor here just prior to and after his marriage in 1903.

There are remnants of sluicing operations in the Morgans Gully area, a reminder of the days when there was some goldmining in the area. This is located near the park entrance.

Bald Rock National Park
5 km further north along Mt Lindesay Rd, the Bald Rock Rd heads off to the left, leading to the Bald Rock picnicking and camping area. From here the Bungoona Walk is an easy 2.5-km trek past some interesting granite boulders to the summit of the aptly-named Bald Rock. Signs and white markings lead to a more direct route marked up the north-east face.

Bald Rock is the largest exposed granite monolith in Australia, being 750 m long, 500 m wide and 200 m high (1341 m above sea-level at the highest point of its featureless pate).

South Bald Rock, a smaller granite dome, is a mere 5 km away and can be reached via a marked trail from the rest area. It is actually west over the state border in Girraween National Park.

Undercliffe Falls
Mt Lindesay Rd continues northwards to the locality of Liston (46 km from Tenterfield). At that point there is a right turn signposted for Undercliffe and Rivertree. When you come to the fork veer left and after 4 km there is a right turn signposted for Undercliffe Falls where the water cascades over a 30-m wide rock face into a deep pool ideal for swimming in summer.

19 km north of Tenterfield is the small town of Wallangarra established in 1888 when the railway line was extended to the state border. Customs excise officers were immediately relocated from Tenterfield and Stanthorpe to a purpose-built customs house where duties were imposed upon those crossing the border. Resentment of these duties helped to fuel the push towards federation. It is now possible to go on a 30-minute guided walk through Customs House Corner precinct and other historic attractions, concluding with lunch or a picnic, tel: (07) 4684 3488.

Mt Mackenzie Granite Drive
Mt Mackenzie Granite Drive provides a fine overview of the town and district from several vantage points to the west of town. It also takes in some of the district's striking granite outcrops. The 38-km (one-hour) circular route to the west of town is detailed in a leaflet available from the visitors' centre which also draws attention to various sites, including Ghost Gully, a dry creek bed featuring some interesting erosion formations, and Mt Mackenzie Lookout (1298 m above sea-level). There is a parking area with picnic and barbecue facilities at the summit.

Bluff Rock
Bluff Rock, 10 km south of Tenterfield via the New England Highway, is an unusual granite outcrop rising steeply from the highway. It is on private property but is clearly visible from the roadside. There is a rest area on the northern side. The rock's speckled appearance is owing to large crystals of pink feldspar.

It is said that in 1844 a shepherd named Robinson was murdered by Aborigines who ultimately fled to the rock, pursued by a posse of whites who then decimated the tribe by throwing them off the top of the rock. Edward Irby, who named the rock St Swithin's Bluff in 1842, wrote of the incident: 'The blacks heard us coming and hid themselves among the rocks. One, in his hurry, dropped poor Robinson's coat, so we knew we were onto the right tribe. If they had taken to their heels they might have got away. Instead of doing so, they got their fighting men together to attack us, so we punished them severely and proved our superiority to them'.

Sundown National Park
This reserve along the Severn River spans the Queensland-New South Wales border and offers excellent bushwalking opportunities through steep rugged gorges, rainforest, cypress and eucalypt forest and alongside remote waterways, although bushwalking is not recommended in summer months due to excessive heat. Sites to explore on foot include Red Rock Falls, Mt Lofty, Red Rock Gorge, Nundubbermere Falls, along the Severn River, Carpenter's Gully, Koina's Tanks (whirlpool eroded holes in the river), the rocky knowll known as Rat's Castle, McAllisters Ceek, Mt Donaldson and Donaldson Creek Falls, Ooline Creek, Blue Gorge, Mt Emily Creek and Gorge Creek.

The park features over 130 bird species and visitors can picnic, camp, canoe, swim or undertake studies of the birdlife or biosystem. Those with a 4WD vehicles can access the northern section of the park by turning off the New England Highway at Ballandean from whence it is 14 km along a gravel road to the park's eastern boundary. From this point it is anywhere from 7 to 20 km along rough 4WD tracks to campsites along the river. There are lookouts, a pit toilet at Red Rock Falls camping area, where the Falls drop 100 metres after rain, and two pit toilets at Burrow's Waterhole and Rat's Castle. The only water supply is the river - when it is flowing. Bushwalkers can leave vehicles just inside the park.

The southern part of the park is accessible by all vehicles. It is 75 km from Stanthorpe via the Stanthorpe-Texas Road then 4 km along a good gravel road to the main campsite. If you are coming from Tenterfield, head north for 5 km then turn west along the Bruxner Highway. At Mingoola (52 km) turn right and it is12 km to the park turnoff. The main campsite is the Broadwater camping area, which has pit toilets, drinking water, fireplaces, an information display, caravan sites and bush showers with a donkey boiler to heat river water. The only time bookings are required are on long weekends.

For further information ring (07) 6737 5235.

Tenterfield & District Information Centre
157 Rouse St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1082
Facsimile: (02) 6736 3388

Best Western The Henry Parkes Tenterfield
Rouse St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1066
Rating: ****

Royal Motel/Hotel
130 High St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1833
Rating: **

Settlers Motor Inn
Cnr Rouse & Douglas Sts
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 2333
Rating: ****

Tally Ho Motor Inn
New England Hwy
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1577
Rating: **

Telegraph Motel/Hotel
139 Manners St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1015
Rating: **

Tenterfield Motor Inn
114 Rouse St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1177
Rating: ***

The Peter Allen Motor Inn
177 Rouse St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 2499
Rating: ***

Jumbuck Motor Inn
Cnr Rouse & Miles Sts
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 2055
Rating: ****

Commercial Hotel
288 Rouse St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1027
Rating: *

Criterion Hotel
378 Rouse St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1013

Barney Downs Bed & Breakfast
Bruxner Hwy
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 2610

Tenterfield Lodge Accommodation Centre Guesthouse
2 Manners St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1477

Arnold¹s Tenterfield Lodge Caravan Park
2 Manners St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1477
Rating: **

Craig¹s Caravan Park
102 Rouse St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1585
Rating: **

Seven Knights Caravan Park
94 Rouse St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: 1800 812 694
Rating: **

Deloraine Restaurant
14 Clarence St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 3404

Roslyn's Family Restaurant
164 Rouse St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1114

Sing Wah Chinese Restaurant
254 Rouse St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1160

Tally­Ho Motor Inn Restaurant
New England Hwy
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1577

Telegraph Motel/Hotel Restaurant
139 Manners St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1015

Tenterfield Motor Inn Restaurant
114 Rouse St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1177

The Coachman Coffee Lounge
234 Rouse St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 2224

The Henry Parkes Motor Inn Restaurant
Rouse St
Tenterfield NSW 2372
Telephone: (02) 6736 1066