Gracious inland city at the heart of the New England area
Armidale is an attractive and graceful city of tree-lined streets where the academic world of the University of New England mingles with a major rural service centre at the heart of rich, old world pastoralism. It is the major centre of the Northern Tablelands and the major city in the New England area of northern New South Wales. The city has four distinct seasons and it becomes like New England in the USA when in autumn the introduced birch, ash and poplar set the district ablaze with reds, golds and browns. Although the university now dominates the city's economy it is still in a rich and fertile area where grazing and the production of high-grade fine wool are the major source of local income. Equally timber processing and the production of potatoes and stone fruits are also important. The historic agricultural wealth of the district is apparent in some of the city's fine heritage buildings. The scenery around Armidale includes forests, mountain gorges, waterfalls (Wollomombi Falls are one of the highest in Australia) and four national parks. Armidale is also known for its gracious city parklands; its schools and its impressive Anglican and Catholic cathedrals.
Armidale is located on the New England Highway 475 km north of Sydney and 460 km south-west of Brisbane. It stands 980 metres above sea level and is home to the highest commercial airport in Australia.^ TOP
Origin of Name
Armidale was named by G.J. Macdonald, the Commissioner of Crown Lands, who decided to name the area around the town after the Macdonald's estate of 'Armadale' on the Isle of Skye.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
There is a very detailed Self-Guided Heritage Walk which can be downloaded off the internet (type in http://www.armidaleregional.nsw.gov.au/.../632/Self-guided%20Heritage%20Walk.pdf.aspx and it will download as a personal PDF) which lists 34 places of interest - nearly all of them within a few blocks of The Mall which lies between Dangar Street and Faulkner Street. To cover all the buildings and places will take around 2.5 hours. Of particular interest are:
1. Sheriff's Cottage
Located at the corner of Moore Street to Faulkner Street, the Sheriff's Cottage is a simple, vernacular single-storey brick magistrate's residence with a timber veranda. It was built in 1870 as the town lock-up. Its significance is recorded as "The Sheriffs Cottage has been associated with the provision of law and justice in Armidale for 30 years from 1878 to 1907. Since that time, the cottage has been used for administration associated with the courthouse." The cottage lies behind the simple brick courthouse (1859-60).
3. New England Hotel
Located on the corner of Dangar Street and The Mall, the New England Hotel was first opened in 1857 and, as such, is one of the oldest hotels in Armidale. It was rebuilt in 1897 and is now a prominent structure in the short, historic Mall.
4. J.R. Richardson & Co Ltd
Located in Beardy Street (the street was named after Duval and Chandler, two bearded stockmen who showed prospective squatters around the district) the J.R. Richardson building is an elegant set of storefronts which dates, as the sign explains, to 1842. This is not correct. 1842 is the date John Richardson established a chandlery in Brisbane. The current building dates from 1872.
6. State Bank
Located at 208 Beardy Street, this elegant building was constructed as the Australian Joint Stock Bank between 1887-1889. It is a classic piece of High Victorian architecture with elegant columns and tower-like structures on the front corners. It is currently occupied by First National Real Estate.
8. The Minto
Located on the corner of Rusden Street and Jessie Street, The Minto was named after the ship which brought Henry Dangar to Australia in 1821. The Minto was built in 1894 as the Central Hotel, although the design has been greatly altered over the years. Note that some of the cast iron from the hotel has been retained in the upper storey windows.
9. Baptist Church
A interesting church located on the corner of Rusden Street and Jessie Street, the Baptist Church was built in 1918 to a Gothic Revival design with an unusual use of contrasting brickwork.
11. Ursuline Convent
Located on the corner of Jessie Street and Barney Street, the Ursuline Convent was built in the 1860s and extended in 1901-02. The nuns had arrived in Australia in 1882 and they began teaching at St Mary's Primary School in 1883. Before that the school had been a local parochial Catholic school.
12. Smith House
Located on Barney Street opposite Central Park is S.H. Smith House which was built in 1889 of Flemish brickwork. It originally served as New England Ladies' College which closed in 1904. In 1928 it became part of Armidale Teachers' College and was substantially altered. In 1960 it was joined with 'Southhall', a two-storey building dating from 1886 with chimney pots, cast-iron lacework, verandas and cedar doors, staircase and mantelpieces. It now operates as student accommodation.
13. Central Park
Central Park is bounded by Faulkner, Barney and Dangar Streets and Tingcombe Lane. It is an attractive, small reserve which was dedicated in 1874 as a recreational area as the result of work by Brother Francis Gatti. The band rotunda was built as a 1902 Boer War Memorial and there is a memorial fountain dedicated to those who served in World War I. There are also picnic and toilet facilities. There is a memorial to the HMS Armidale which was sunk in the Timor Sea in 1942. The well-established trees are particularly beautiful in autumn.
14. Saints Mary and Joseph Catholic Cathedral
St Mary's and St Joseph's Catholic Cathedral dominates Central Park. A Gothic Revival structure of Pyrmont stone and polychrome brickwork it was built in 1911-12 to replace an earlier church (1870-72) which, in turn, replaced the first wooden chapel on the eastern side of the city (1848). Features include the lantern tower with its turrets and needle spire, the hammer beam roof, the cylindrical stone columns within and the marble work of the altar and chancel. The architects, Sheerin and Hennessey, drew up plans based on a Roman-style basilica and court.
15. St Peter's Anglican Cathedral
Located on the corner of Dangar and Rusden Streets is the High Victorian Gothic design of St Peter's Anglican Cathedral. It is the work of J. Horbury Hunt, one of Australia's most distinguished architects. It was built between 1871-1878 to replace an earlier 1850 church. The chapter house and vestry were added in 1910 and the tower 1936-38.
The brickwork is outstanding. It features the usage of many types of moulded brick. Details include square towers and buttress finials capped by pyramids (a Hunt motif), Gothic arches, gables, a sandstone pulpit, a brass lectern, piers and stained-glass windows which are individual tributes to early settlers. It is a work of exceptional craftsmanship and complexity. There is a museum in the bell tower with items relating to parish and diocesan history which is open from 9.00 am - 12.30 pm weekdays. A ring of eight bells was installed in 1996.
16. Town Hall
Located in Rusden Street, and wonderfully ostentatious, is the two-storey High Victorian town hall which was completed in 1883. The decorative stuccoed brick facade includes pilasters (rectangular columns), scrolls, frieze work and a central pediment. The interior was redecorated in an Art Deco style in 1990.
17. Folk Museum
Located on the corner of Faulkner Street and Rusden Street, is the old School of Arts and Mechanics/Literary Institute. The original corner section was built in 1863 with an office, library and billiards room added in 1897. It is made of stuccoed brick with a fine cast-iron veranda and a central parapet bearing the name of the Literary Institute. It is now a folk museum with local artefacts including the White family’s large English coach, used by the State Governor during his tour of Armidale more than a century ago, a humble child’s doll carved in wood by her settler father and the grand Buchanan Silver Tea service presented by grateful citizens in 1879, open seven days from 1.00 pm - 4.00 pm, tel: (02) 6770 3536. Admission is free.
18. Diocesan Registry
A wonderful display of the bricklayer's art, the Diocesan Registry is located opposite the Folk Museum. It was built in 1924 and echoes the style employed for the local Baptist Church.
20. Masonic Lodge
Located on the corner of Barney Street and Faulkner Street, the Armidale Masonic Lodge building was constructed in 1924. It was the first Masonic temple in New South Wales which featured a distinctive leadlight gallery. With its columns and its intricate brickwork it is an unusual addition to the street. It is no longer used by the Freemasons.
21. Solomon's Cottage
Next door to St Paul's Church, at 139 Faulkner Street, is Solomon's Cottage which was built of English bonded brick with a bullnose veranda in 1863. It was purchased by Henry Solomon in 1880. He established a photographic studio in the building in 1880.
22. St Paul's Presbyterian Church
Located next door to Solomon's cottage in Faulkner Street, is St Paul's Presbyterian Church (1881-82), a Gothic revival design it has a tall steeple, wrought-iron ornamentation, arched lancet windows and an impressive rose window.
23. Armidale Uniting Church
Located in Rusden Street is the Wesley Uniting Church and Hall. The present hall was the town's first Wesleyan Church (1864). It is characterised by cedar fittings and coloured glass inlays. The present church dates from 1893. The pipe organ was made in 1879 and is still in use. Note the circular window above the front gable flanked by two Gothic stained-glass panels.
26. Lands Office
Located on the corner of Faulkner Street and Cinders Lane, is the Lands Department Office (1886), a two-storey High Victorian public building designed by notable Colonial Architect, James Barnet, with walls of English bonded brick. It features an elegant and elaborate belled iron veranda and balcony with cast-iron columns and balustrades.
27. Imperial Hotel
On the corner of Beardy and Faulkner Streets, and dominating the East Mall, is the two-storey brick and stucco Imperial Hotel (1889). Armidale's oldest surviving hotel, this highly ornamented building features extensive and elaborate cast-iron friezework on the verandas, bull nosed awnings, and extravagant parapets decorated with Grecian urns and pediments on arches. The interior retains an air of Victorian opulence.
28. Post Office
At the top of The Mall at Beardy and Faulkner Streets is the two-storey Classical brick and stucco post office (1880) which was designed by the famous architect, James Barnet, The balcony and colonnade were added in 1897 by the equally esteemed architect, W.L. Vernon.
30. Court House
The town's original brick court house (1859-60) was located on the north-western corner of Beardy and Faulkner Streets. It replaced an earlier building erected on a different site in 1844. Designed by Alexander Dawson, later alterations were made by James Barnet in 1870 and W.L. Vernon in 1900. It features a grand portico with half-fluted entrance columns, a vented pediment, cedar joinery and a squat clock tower, added in 1878. Other features include a cobbled vestibule and fine wrought-iron gates. The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage describes the building as "an impressive building of immense importance to the town and region. The front façade is designed in the Victorian Free Classical Style, with a central gable-roofed courtroom featuring a triangular pediment supported on fluted Corinthian columns. A timber clock tower surmounts the main roof. On either side of the central building are single-storey wings, featuring grouped windows with pilaster detailing. Important features include the wrought-iron gates, cobbled stoned vestibule, cedar joinery and furniture." For more details check out https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=3080003. In 1971, during renovations, a message was found in a cognac bottle placed under the floorboards during the renovations which had occurred in 1870. Written by the Clerk of Petty Sessions it read, in part: "My friends...rest assured that the world has wagged before your time as it will after your time, and that nothing is certain but death. For and behalf of my numerous creditors. Sydney Blythe."
Judith Wright Monument
Located at 118 Dumaresq Street in the town's Civic Park is a grove of trees which commemorates the great Australian poet, Judith Wright. Wright was born at Wallamumbi Station outside Armidale, educated at the New England Girls School, and is recognised as one of the greatest of all Australian poets. Her imagery of the New England area is genuinely unforgettable and a short extract is recorded on the memorial:
"South of my days' circle, part of my blood's country,
rises that tableland, high-delicate outline of bony slopes wincing under the winter,
low trees blue-leaved and olive,
outcropping granite - clean, lean hungry country."
For more information check out http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/people/arts/display/20109-judith-wright.
New England Regional Art Museum
Located at 106-114 Kentucky Street is the New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM). Its collection is second largest and most valuable of any country gallery in New South Wales, with a particularly impressive collection of Australian paintings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Tom Roberts, Norman Lindsay, Brett Whiteley and Arthur Streeton. There are also pieces by Kandinsky and Rodin. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm, tel: (02) 6772 5255 or check out http://www.neram.com.au/about-us.
Armidale and Region Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place
Located at 128 Kentucky Street is the Armidale and Region Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place with visual and performing arts programs designed to preserve and inform about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island art and culture. It holds bi-monthly art exhibitions and there are also arts and crafts from the local indigenous communities (Armidale, Guyra, Tamworth, Kempsey, Lismore, Moree, Manila, Gunnedah, Newcastle, Brisbane) for sale, open weekdays from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm and weekends by appointment, tel: (02) 6771 3606.
Armidale Bicentennial Arboretum
The Armidale Bicentennial Arboretum is bounded by Kentucky, Butler and Galloway Streets. It contains extensive stands of native and imported shrubs and trees, pleasant and leisurely walking tracks, a north-facing lookout, picnic shelters, a toilet block and aquatic gardens with a waterfall and walkbridge. There is also a sensory garden near the entrance and a children's playground. Check out http://www.armidaleregional.nsw.gov.au/community/sport-and-recreation/parks-and-gardens/arboretum for more information.
Armidale Bicentennial Railway Museum
Located at 247 Brown Street are the railway station and station master's residence, the Bicentennial Railway Museum, which is adjacent the station, has railway equipment, vehicles and other related items. Museums and Galleries of NSW notes: "The Museum depicts the days when the railway was the nation’s common carrier, transporting “everything from a needle to an anchor”. It also looks at the everyday work of railwaymen – you can try your hand with the hand operated rail saw, or drill a hole with a “ratchet and post”. A comprehensive collection of fettlers’ track vehicles shows how employees went to work on the most isolated stretches of line. They range from the hand pump tricycles of the 1880s to modern powered vehicles. The Museum gives a real insight into the skills required to operate the Main Northern Line in the heyday of railways. Viewings of the interior are possible between 11.00 am and 12.30 pm daily. Admission is free, tel: (02) 6771 4398 or https://mgnsw.org.au/organisations/armidale-bicentennial-railway-museum.
Cycling Around The City
There is an excellent, downloadable brochure (check out https://www.une.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/6737/cycleway-map.pdf) which lists and describes nine cycleways around Armidale. They include:
• Dumaresq Dam Road (via Boorolong Road) - a 25 km return trip from the centre of Armidale which takes about 90 minutes.
• Pineforest & Armidale Northern Loop Walking tracks (via Rockvale Road) - Path starts at Erskine Street and continues for 4 km to Trelawney Road, the start of the Southern Loop Walk. Continue on Rockvale Road for 15 km to the Chandler Road intersection for a more challenging ride.
• Apple Tree Hill Rd and Cookes Rd Bike Route (via Rockvale Road) - A diversion to the Apple Tree Hill Road and Cookes Road walking and bike route, of 5-6 km and returning to Armidale via Erskine Street; scenic countryside with small farms.
• Long Swamp Rd, Fosters Rd and Castledoyle Rd Loop - Scenic bike route through mostly sealed roadways to the southeast of Armidale. Round trip of approx. 25 km.
• Blue Hole, via Castledoyle Road - Scenic bike route to the east of Armidale.Round trip of approx. 30 km.
• Dangars Falls, via Dangarsleigh and Dangars Falls Roads - Scenic bike route to the south-east of Armidale. Round trip of approx. 50 km.
• Enmore Road via Dangarsleigh Road - Route to the south of Armidale. Round trip of approx. 70 km passing Gostwyck Chapel and Deeargee Shearing Shed.
• Invergowrie via Bundarra Rd; Mt Butler Rd, Arding Rd, Hawthorn
* Close and Pinegrove Rd, Macleay Rd Loop - Route to the west of Armidale. Round trip of approx. 30 km.
• Puddledock Rd from intersection of New England Highway - route to the north of Armidale. Round trip of approx. 40 km.
University of New England
The University, situated at the town's north-western corner and accessible on Madgwick Drive, occupies some 260 ha, and is characterised by attractive stretches of lawn and parkland. The administration building is 'Booloominbah', a grandiose, three-storey, 45-room red-brick country mansion. It is an asymmetrical design by J. Horbury Hunt, built between 1883 - 1888 for the White family. The building features truncated pyramid chimneys, shady balconies and verandas, a square tower, projecting wings and gables, arched doorways, massive chimneys, large stained-glass windows depicting scenes from the life of General Gordon, dark oak panelling, a large cedar staircase and an extensive art collection.
There is an 8 ha deer park to the rear. The fallow deer were imported from Indonesia by Frederick White in the 1890s. There are also wallabies and kangaroos.
Frederick White died in 1903 and his wife stayed on in the house until her death in 1933. In 1938 her son-in-law donated it so that it may constitute the basis of the New England University College of Sydney University, the first university outside of the capital cities. In 1954 it became an autonomous institution and 'Booloominbah' became the administrative centre.
'Trevanna', also designed by Hunt, was built in 1889 for Phillip Wentworth Wright as a summer residence for his wife and daughters. Erected on stone foundations it has rubble walls, a hipped and gabled slate roof and brick surrounds. 'Trevanna' now serves as the vice chancellor's residence.
Drummond Park and Apex Lookout
Drummond Park, on Donnelly Street, includes the Drummond Apex Lookout, which offers panoramic views across the city.
Other Attractions in the Area
Dumaresq Dam is located 8 km north-west of Armidale on the Dumaresq Dam Road. The dam was built between 1896-1898 to supply water to Armidale. It remained an important water source until 1968 when the Malpas Dam was built. The waters are periodically stocked with trout and may be fished in season (from the October long weekend to the end of the Queen's Birthday long weekend in June). There is a short and pleasant walking trail around the dam, a boat ramp, sail boating, swimming, and picnic and barbecue facilities.
St Nicholas's Church of England
Located in Dumaresq Road (turn right from Bundarra Road west of the town) is St Nicholas's Church of England, Saumarez Ponds, a simple church built of feather-edged weatherboard on foundations of basalt and mud in 1863-64 by Henry Lane of Dumaresq. The nails are hand-made, the fittings are of red cedar and the interior is lined with imported pine. The original roof of stringybark shingles is now covered by corrugated iron. It is listed on the National Estate. See https://www.stnicholascenter.org/galleries/gazetteer/2395/ for more information.
Mount Yarrowyck Nature Reserve and Rock Art Site
Located 33 km west of Armidale along Bundarra Road is the Nature Reserve which preserves the traditional lands of the Anaiwan people. The reserve was created in 1983. It is 589 ha. There is a small signpost pointing towards the gravel road which leads to a car park and picnic area where there are boards pointing out the highlights of a 3 km loop walk to an Aboriginal rock art site in a small shelter on the south-western slopes of Mt Yarrowyck. On a rock surface are some red ochre paintings which are dominated by bird track motifs. There are also stick figures and other geometric shapes. It is an information cave telling other Aboriginal groups what type of food was available in the area. For more information check out http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/mount-yarrowyck-nature-reserve and http://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/armidale-area/uralla/attractions/mount-yarrowyck-nature-reserve.
Located at 230 Saumarez Road (via Armidale airport) Saumarez Homestead is a two storey, thirty room Edwardian mansion which was built between 1888-1906. The Saumarez station was taken up by Henry Dumaresq in 1835. Henry, the brother-in-law of Governor Darling, was a member of the Duke of Wellington's staff in the Battle of Waterloo in the course of which he was shot through the lungs while delivering a message. Consequently he suffered ill health for the rest of his life and died young in 1838.
The property was sold in 1856 and reduced in size through subdivision. The White family bought it in 1874, establishing a successful pastoral enterprise. They initially lived in a small brick cottage which is still standing. Francis White then built the luxurious 33-room Saumarez Homestead on the crest of a hill amidst landscaped gardens. It is a two-storey mansion with elegant upstairs verandas featuring ornate cast-iron lacework, roundheaded windows and decorative gables. The architect was W. Pender. Also on the property are a fragment of a small 1860s brick homestead, a large aviary, a schoolhouse once used by the staff's children, a farm worker's cottage and a collection of vernacular, timber slab and boarded farm buildings dating from the 1840s and 1850s.
The family donated the property to the National Trust in 1981 and the interior of the homestead is now open for viewing. The National Trust website (check out https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/saumarez-homestead) suggests: "Take a guided tour through the White family’s 30 room Edwardian mansion complete with original furnishings. Stroll through Mary White’s garden, with its Jocelyn Brown-style cottage garden, the picking garden, the heritage rose garden and the lawns. Visit outbuildings complete with 19th century tools and equipment. Allow at least half a day to see this extensive property, and experience 19th century pastoral life." The property is open from 10.00 am - 5.00 pm daily and visitors can inspect the gardens. There are guided tours at 10.30 am, 2.00 pm and 3.30 pm on weekends and public holidays.
The falls are a popular destination for locals and are located 17 km south of Armidale along Dangarsleigh Road. There are camping and picnic facilities and 20 km of walking tracks around the rim of the gorge and down to the Macleay River. There are dramatic views over the gorges at the northern edge of the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. The falls drop 120 metres into the ravine. In spring the heathlands are alive with wildflowers. All the detailed information is available at https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/picnic-areas/dangars-falls-picnic-area?p=1&pdfprint=true.
Located 20 km south-east of Armidale on Castledoyle Road which heads south-east off Waterfall Way (the road to Dorrigo) at the eastern edge of Armidale. Gara Gorge has day-use facilities and swimming at Blue Hole. The Threlfall Historic Hydro-Electric loop walk offers fine views of the gorges. One of the first hydro-electric schemes in Australia was built to light the town of Hillgrove and the remains can still be seen at Gara Gorge. For more information check out https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/lookouts/gara-gorge-lookout.
Apsley Falls in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park
Located 84 km south along the Oxley Highway is a turnoff to the Apsley Falls.
This vantagepoint on the way to the Apsley Falls Lookout offers dramatic views across to the bluffs on the other side of the Apsley Gorge. There is some evidence that early settlers chased local Aborigines to the edge of the gorge and forced them to jump to their death off the cliffs. Just another of those untold stories of the ugliness of the frontier.
Gorge Rim Walk - At the Day Use area there is a 1 km loop Gorge Rim Walking Track. At the Falls Lookout there is a 52 metre steel stairway which leads down to an observation deck where there are excellent views of the deep gorge and the falls which drop 309 m in two stages. If you are very lucky you may spot a spotted-tail quoll. The steps were first built as wooden steps in 1902. They were demolished in 1932 and it wasn't until 1961 that they were built in steel by the Walcha Lions Club. National Parks refitted the steps in 2001.
Oxley Walk - clearly signposted this 90 minute walk crosses the impressive Suspension Bridge and continues around the Apsley River to the north side of the gorge. It offers excellent views of the main falls and the lower falls from four lookout platforms.
The falls were discovered by John Oxley in 1818 who wrote of being "lost in astonishment at the sight of this wonderful sublimity". They are located in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, a wilderness located on the Great Escarpment which divides the tablelands from the coast. The park is notable for the fact that the New England Plateau drops into the gorges carved out by the Aspley and Macleay Rivers. For more detailed information check out http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/oxley-wild-rivers-national-park.
Located 108 km south of Armidale along the Oxley Highway is a turnoff to Tia Falls Road which leads to the Tia Falls Campground which is located in a bush setting which is ideal for a picnic. There is a Gorge Rim walking track which is 1.5 km return and which usually takes around 90 minutes. The lookout offers spectacular views over the gorge and the falls. There is also the Tiara Walking Track (5 km return - 90 minutes to two hours) which also offers views over the Tia River. For a map and detailed instructions check out http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/tia-falls-walk/map. The site notes of the fauna in the area: "The varied plant communities of Oxley Wild Rivers National Park provide a home for over 350 animal species, including the largest confirmed population of brush-tailed rock wallabies. Even though there are roughly 10,000 of this endangered species in the park, you'll have to keep your eyes open to catch a glimpse of their bushy tail. The park also boasts over 173 bird species, including the majestic wedge-tailed eagle, peregrine falcon, square-tailed kite and sea eagle."
Budds Mare Lookout and Camp Ground
Located 108 km south-east of Armidale via Thunderbolts Way and the Emu Creek Road and Moona Plains Road, the Budds Mare Rest Area has a camping ground with picnic facilities and there are a number of walking tracks as well as a lookout above the Apsley River valley with views across the gorge to Paradise Rocks and to Round Mountain and Point Lookout. There is a challenging 14 km (return) walk to the riverside. For more information check out http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/lookouts/budds-mare-lookout.
Located 80 km east of Armidale on the road to Dorrigo, the Ebor Falls occur where the Guy Fawkes River drops 115 m over columned basalt rock. There are three viewing platforms (one close to the car park, one another 600 metres along the escarpment, and the third another 20 metres along) all of which offer views of the falls and the Macleay Valley.
New England National Park
There is an excellent, downloadable brochure - New England National Park - which can be accessed at http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/parks/brochures/07151NewEnglandNP.pdf. It includes maps and detailed information about the park and the walks in the park.
The park, which is located between Armidale and Dorrigo (it is 85 km from Armidale), is a 72,241 ha, world heritage listed wilderness area of varying habitats reflecting dramatic differences of altitude. The park's ecosystems, over 52,000 ha of which are intentionally preserved as wilderness, range from snow gum woodland and Antarctic beech rainforest to subtropical rainforest, including wet and dry eucalypt forest, subalpine heath and wetlands. There are over 1,000 plant species, large numbers of mammals and reptiles and over 100 species of bird. Clearly marked bushwalks lead through mossy beech forests and fern gullies.
From the entrance at Point Lookout Road it is 11 km along a dirt road to the Thungatti Camping Area where there are picnic, barbecue and toilet facilities.
Point Lookout and the Walks
Point Lookout stands 1564 m above sea-level and affords spectacular views down the almost vertical escarpment into the Bellinger River Valley and beyond to the ocean which is 70 km away. A short 100 m wheelchair-friendly track leads from the car park to the two viewing platforms. There is a picnic shelter at Point Lookout with an open fireplace and there are picnic areas at Berarngutta and Banksia Point.
Eagles Nest Track
At Eagle's Nest Lookout a 2.5 km circular walking track (it takes around 1 hour 45 minutes) leads along a high country trail, dipping into cool Antarctic Beech forest and passing Weeping Rock.
The 7 km circular Lyrebird Nature Walk commences at Banksia Point, 800 m south of Point Lookout. It leads deep into rainforest past Weeping Rock, a large sheer moss-covered cliff face that towers overhead. It can be steep and slippery in places.
The Cascades Walk enters an Antarctic Beech forest near Wrights Lookout. It is a medium difficult walk which covers 6 km and takes three hours return. There are beech orchids in the spring.
Tea Tree Falls Walk
On the eastern edge of the Thungutti camping area is a small pocket of rainforest with a shallow creek. The Tea Tree Falls Walk, a one hour stroll, starts there and follows a creek through forest and woodland to Tom's Cabin.
Cathedral Rock National Park
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service have produced a Cathedral Rock National Park downloadable brochure (http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/parks/brochures/CathedralRock08.pdf) which provides a good map and details of camping and walking within the park. Located along Waterfall Way between Armidale (70 km east) and Dorrigo (60 km west) is a left turn into Round Mountain Road which goes to Barokee Rest Area, Round Mountain and Cathedral Rock. The National Park is characterised by large granite outcrops. The landforms, vegetation and temperatures are quite different to those experienced in New England National Park. There are easily accessible wetlands, gully rainforest, wet and dry eucalypt and wet heath. Wallabies and kangaroos tend to congregate around the marshlands at dusk. There are also wildflowers in summer and bird watchers will find the park rewarding with rose robins, flycatchers and pardalotes common.
Located 7 km from Waterfall Way along Round Mountain Road is Barokee Rest Area (it has secluded camping sites) and further along the road reaches the Round Mountain (1584 m), the highest point of the New England Tablelands. From the Barokee Rest Area there is an easy, 5.8 km loop track (it takes around 2.5 hours) to Cathedral Rock. There is an additional 400 m spur track which leads to the top of the rock where the views are outstanding, though the rocks can be slippery and the track potentially dangerous.
On the appropriately named Waterfall Way, which joins Dorrigo and Armidale, along a clearly signposted side road are the Wollomombi Falls, Australia's longest single drop falls. This is where the Wollomombi River falls 220 m over the cliff to the gorge below. The plateau at this point is 1160 metres above sea-level. There is an easy 2 km gorge rim walk (the Wollomombi Walking Track) which passes two lookouts. It is 2 km, graded as easy, and takes around 90 minutes. There are also views across Chandlers Waterfall. Check out http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/Walking-tracks/Wollomombi-walking-track for more details.
* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the Anaiwan and Kamilaroi Aborigines were the dominant groups in the area.
* The explorer John Oxley passed through the New England Area in 1817-18.
* European settlement commenced when squatters moved into the area around 1832.
* The Saumarez and Tilbuster stations were taken up around the present-day site of Armidale by Henry and William Dumaresq in 1835.
* In 1839 G.J. Macdonald, acting as the commissioner of crown lands, made part of Tilbuster station his headquarters. Macdonald named the area after his clan's baronial estate of 'Armadale' on the Isle of Skye.
* A slab and bark village grew in 1839 as a government administrative centre around Macdonald's office, store and barracks.
* The first post office opened in 1841.
* The town's first hotel was opened in 1843.
* By 1844 shops were trading in the small village.
* The first church service was held in 1845.
* Applications were made for land in 1845-46.
* A steam-powered flour mill was built in 1846.
* The first school (Anglican) was established in 1847.
* A townsite was surveyed in 1848.
* Armidale was officially gazetted in 1849.
* Cobb and Co establishing a service along the Great North Road to Armidale in 1850.
* In 1851 the population was 547.
* Gold was first discovered at Rocky River, near Uralla, in 1852.
* The Armidale Express newspaper was first published in 1856
* In 1861 a public school and school of arts were established.
* The Court House was built between 1859-1860.
* The town's first Wesleyan Church was dedicated in 1864.
* In 1873 the foundation stone for St Peter's Anglican Cathedral was laid.
* Central Park was dedicated in 1874.
* The Post and Telegraph Office was opened in 1880.
* The railway reached the town in 1883.
* Armidale was proclaimed a city in 1885. At the time it had more than 2000 citizens.
* St Ursula's Primary School opened in 1881
* The New England Ladies' College took students in 1889. That year saw the opening of the Imperial Hotel.
* The Armidale School opened in 1894.
* The New England School opened in 1895.
* In 1902 the Band Rotunda in Central Park was dedicated to Boer War veterans.
* St Mary and Joseph Catholic Cathedral was consecrated in 1912.
* The local Masonic Temple was opened in 1924.
* The Theatre Royal opened in 1925.
* The town mall was opened in 1973.
* By the 1980s 17,000 tertiary students were studying at Armidale.^ TOP
Armidale Visitor Information Centre, 82 Marsh Street, tel: (02) 6770 3888.^ TOP
The town has an official website. Check out http://www.armidaletourism.com.au for information about the city and the surrounding district.^ TOP