Touring with Gibbo
Extended Tour 5: New England Wanderings
Extended Tour # 5 A 4 day, 2 Nighter New England Wanderings Tour.
As you can tell by the other tours I have a love of New England, even in winter and it does get seriously cold up there. With this tour I wanted you give people the option of staying a while in New England and enjoying what it has to offer. Naturally, you may wish to stay longer. There is heaps to see, and its quite different to the lowlands on the coast. The city is Armidale, the highest altitude city in Australia at 980 metres. I have based the touring in Armidale, using it as the take off point for your tour of discovery. Yes it does snow there, but not often; come prepared for cold.
There are several ways to get to Armidale:
* From the east (pehaps staying at Squeakygate Retreat) the Grafton Armidale Road, or the Gwydir Hwy from Grafton to Glen Innes then South down the New England to Armidale. Or from the South East, the famous Oxley through Walcha then up the NewEngland
* From the south either Buckets Way and Thunderbolts way to the New England, or the New England Hwy (the Newey).
* From the north there are various ways including the New Enlgand all the way down or the Summerland Way to either through Grafton and up or via Tenterfield and Glen Innes on the Newey.
* From the West most roads head east, hitting the New England at some point then travel to Armidale.
Wherever you come from we will call this a day to get to Armidale.
Armidale has heaps. This ranges from quite cheap pub style accommodation like the St.Kilda Hotel and several of hotels like that through to tons of Motels and some high end accommodation. The choice is huge, and unless there is some special event on in Armidale, like graduation, there should be no issues finding what you want.
Day 2: Armidale and environs.
Whatever season you decide to travel to New England, it is pretty much postcard perfect. Autumn is probably the best (especially ther first 2 weeks of April) with all the colours of the deciduous trees. It is spectacular.
Armidale city has a very 'young' feel to it due to the fact that it host the University of New England (UNE) and many private schools. It is also quite wealthy because of education and the wealth that has traditionaly come from ther grazing industry, cattle, but especially sheep. These two different industries ethos and culture permeate the city and it's envions. The buildings are substantial and beautiful.
On your first day in New England, I suggest that you investigate Armidale and what surrounds the city.
* The Churches: The catholic Cathedral is just stunning, showing the depth of wealth of the New England region in ther 19th Century. There are a lot of churches in and around Armidale of all denominations.
* NERAM (the New England Regional Art Museum), located in Kentucky Street. This is a must see, if you have any bent towards the arts. It houses the entire Howard Hinton Collection, the Chandler Coventry Collection and the NERAM Collection. NERAM is only able to display part of these collections at any one time. Tours of the rooms housing the totality of the collection can be arrnaged wiht advanced notice. Phone: (02) 6772 5255.
*UNE. The university is definately worth a visit. Being on a bike you wont have the parking problems cars have. Have a look round the Dixon Library and the different faculties and have a coffee in the Union building. I spend 7 years there as a student doing 2 degree and a diploma. 'Booloominbah' is worth a visit. It is where the uni started as the first regional university in Australia. It started as an 'offshoot' of Sydney University.
That's a big morning out, and probably enough 'culture' for one day.
For the arvo, I suggest the short trip out to the Blue Hole, unless it is freezing or raining. Take the Grafton - Armidale Rd., turn right at the edge of town down the Castledoyle Rd.. It's 20kms and it turns to dirt, but the blue hole is worth the trip. In the warmer months a nice spot for a dip, in the cooler months... Ah no!
After an time at the Blue Hole, it's probably time to return to Armidale and relax with a cleansing ale. There are heaps of pubs to choose from and a new water hole called 'the Welder's Dog'. Their motto is 'drink less taste more'. I agree with the taste more bit... It's a craft brewery outlet and restraunt. Speaking of drinking and eating, there are heaps of excellent places in Armidale to do that. The quality is good and the prices reasonable. They have to be reasonable as it is a student town. There is everything from pub grub of good quality to pretty much everything you can think of cuisine wise.
The Catholic Cathedral is stunning.
Armidale City in autumn.
Booloominbah @ UNE
The Blue Hole.
The Welders Dog
Day 3: Out and about from Armidale.
It may well depend on where you are heading back to from Armidale what you take on for day 3, but if you are intending to spend a second night in Armidale (an excellent idea), the suggestion would be to head south to the Uralla/ Kentucky/ Walcha area. The area is steeped in the history of the wool industry, the wealth that came from that, and just smig of bushranging.
*The first stop is Uralla, just 25kms south of Armidale alone the New Engalnd Hwy.. There is lots to see and do in an around Uralla, just depends what you are into. A very to the Information Centre in the main street would be a good idea. Some suggestions are:
-> If you like walking there is a heritage walk which includes 50 heritage buildings. If that seems like too much effort...
-> The Wooldridge Recreation and Fossicking Reserve is located approximately six kilometres from Uralla township along the Kingstown Road. If that's still too much like hard work...
-> You have to take in the obligatory Thunderbolts Rock. This is located just 7kms south of Uralla on the New England Hwy... Originally named Split Rock, it was renamed after Captain Thunderbolt (Fred Ward) who is the best known bushranger in the area. He used the rock as a lookout and hiding place to 'hold up' mail coaches and other travellers.
-> Dobson's Distillery. For those of you with a interest in Gin, Whisky, Vodka and Lord knows what else... Just 7 kms down the road, from Thunderbolt's Rock, turning left off the Newey at Kentucky Rd. There are a huge range of spirits available to taste and a restraunt. The problem for me is it is a long walk from anywhere and I don't drink and ride...ever! Your call!
Assuming you are still 'Compass mendes'...
-> Travel back to Uralla, turning right at the information centre, to take the ride out to Gostwyck Chapel. The road (Gostwyck Rd.,) is sealed and good and 10kms from Uralla. Its a lovely little chappel and still used today.... Well once a month. Across the way from Gostwyck Chapel is Deeargee Woolshed. It is an odd octagonal sheering shed, and huge. The reason for the design is to let in light at any time of day... Smart thinking for 1872 when it was constructed.
-> Time permitting, I suggest you make your way to Dangars Fall (not to be confused wiht Dangar Falls near Dorrigo). From Gostwyck continue east on Gostwyck Road, turning left onto Milne Rd., the merge left onto Enmore Rd., then right onto Dangarsleigh Rd., to the falls. Beware the road is partly dirt and there is a 'tank trap' of a crossing on the Dangarsleigh Rd. (well when I was there last) just take it easy at the concrete causeways. Gone are the days when we could all be lunatic and hang over the edge. You are all protected from your selves these days with barriers, which is probably a good thing. It's a seriously long way down.
Once you have had your fill of heights and depths of the gorge, retrace your route, but continue straight along the Dangarsleigh Rd. To Armidale coming into Armidale in Kentucky St., wiht NERAM not far to you left.
Day 4 Return Home or to Squeakygate Retreat.
Thunderboltt's Rock with the usual suspects from the UNEMCC
Dangars Gorge, just past the falls.
I have drawn a map for Day 3 only for obvious reasons.