The following itinerary describes a range of sites which we plan to visit. At the time of publication (February 2021) most visits had been confirmed. While several are accessible to the public, others require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure in 2021.
The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary, together with their tour documents, prior to departure. The tour includes meals indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.
Day 4: Friday 22 October, Goonoo Goonoo – Bendemeer – Kingstown – Glen Innes
- Longford Station
- Merilba Estate: Lunch at the Merilba Cellar Doors & tour of the private gardens
Leaving Goonoo Goonoo we travel across to Bendemeer to visit the garden at Longford Station. The homestead is set in the middle of an extensive property, over 7,000ha in size, which has specialised in breeding Black Wagyu cattle since 1995. At the front of the historic homestead an expansive lawn slopes down to a picturesque lake and onward to the MacDonald River. Semi enclosed areas relate to various views of the old house. Hundreds of trees, roses, perennials and shrubs have been used to create a landscaped garden of great serenity and beauty.
We then travel across country to Kingstown and the Merilba Estate, a renowned winery and cattle breeding property.’Merilba’ has been a long established pastoral property in the New England region since the mid 1800’s. It is believed that the present day Cellar Door was a way station for the then bustling stagecoach industry. Twenty six horses were liveried and prepared for the stagecoach journeys. Today ‘Merilba’ includes approximately 30,000 acres at Kingstown and runs a South Devon stud, commercial cattle, Merino fine wool and prime lambs. Diversification in more recent years includes the breeding of Boar goats and most notably wine production. As well as its primary production enterprises ‘Merilba’ is also renowned for the beauty of its extensive gardens, and the structures contained in it. These include the Walk of Roses (a 30 metre pergola covered in dozens of different varieties of climbing roses), the Folly (a copper roofed rotunda also surrounded by roses) and the garden which is beautifully landscaped with extensive stone walls and a charming water feature. The vineyard is situated on a north facing slope at an elevation of 800 metres above sea level. ‘The combination of altitude, slope, soil and climate interact to give Merilba Estate wines great flavour and complexity’. Lunch will be served at the Cellar Door of the estate. During our lunch we will sample some of the Merilba Estate wines which include Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
From Kingstown we continue north to the charming town of Glen Innes, located on the Northern Tablelands. The land upon which the town of Glen Innes (pop. c. 6,155) is located was originally the territory of the Ngarabal people who called it Gindaaydjin, (‘plenty of big round stones on clear plains’). Many Ngarabal people continue to live in the Glen Innes area, still practising many aspects of their traditional culture and way of life. One Archibald Boyd registered the first run in the Glen Innes district in 1838. This area changed hands a number of times in the 19th century. The town, which developed in the 1850s, takes its name from one station owner, Major Archibald Clunes Innes. By 1866 it had a population of c. 350, with a telegraph station, lands office, police barracks, courthouse, post office and two hotels. From 1872, when tin was discovered at Emmaville, Glen Innes prospered. By 1875, its population had grown to c. 1,500 and it had a two teacher school, three churches, five hotels, two weekly newspapers, seven stores and a variety of societies and associations. In 1884 Glen Innes was linked by the new Main North railway to Sydney. This rail link and the expansion of mining brought great prosperity, reflected in some of its fine buildings. The town centre retains some of its federation buildings, many of which are on the Register of the National Estate. Tonight we dine tonight at the lodge’s Highlands Restaurant. (Overnight Glen Innes) BLD
Day 5: Saturday 23 October, Glen Innes – Matheson – Glen Innes
- Historic Waterloo Homestead
This morning we visit historic Waterloo Station which was first settled by Peter McIntyre of the Hunter Valley in 1837. The property was subsequently purchased by John Sinclair in 1896 and remained in the family for the next 76 years. John’s son, Sir Colin Sinclair, became a State parliamentarian and later the president of the Royal Agricultural Show society. The highlight of the property is its magnificent 22-room homestead which was designed by Sydney architect and engineer Herbert Ross (1866–1937) in the Arts and Crafts style for John Sinclair in 1908. This grand home which has been lovingly restored by its current owners is surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens and century old English Elm trees. The homestead was constructed of local brick on a base of New England granite. It is surrounded by extensive verandahs and has a central court. The interior has tallowwood timber flooring, rendered internal walls and pressed metal ceilings. It includes a large formal domed vestibule, drawing and dining rooms, library, large master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom, a further eight bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Glen Innes is also well known for its beautiful private gardens and historic homes. We first visit ‘Lilburn’, a country property owned by Sue Molesworth and Tim Hughes. Tim’s family have lived here for several generations and his great-grandparents knew Tom Roberts well. We shall learn about Tom Roberts’ travels to New England and enjoy a delicious homemade lunch.
We finish the day with a visit to the beautiful garden of ‘Brandon’ on the outskirts of town. The garden surrounding the 1870s homestead has the feel of an ‘English manor’, with clipped hedges create walkways, passages, garden rooms and amphitheatres. The garden also has a magnificent wisteria walk. Tonight we dine tonight at the lodge’s Highlands Restaurant. (Overnight Glen Innes) BLD
Day 6: Sunday 24 October, Glen Innes – Tenterfield – Glenrock – Eagles Bluff – Glen Innes
- Glenrock, Tenterfield
- Eagles Bluff, Tenterfield
Today we visit two major New England gardens both designed by renowned garden landscaper Carolyn Robinson. Glenrock, her first garden is one of Australia’s finest exotic country gardens, which features drystone walls and beautifully planted stepped terraces that descend to a lagoon. This garden continues to flourish under the care and dedication of its new owners.
Following lunch at Glenrock we continue to Eagles Bluff, Carolyn’s new garden, another stunning country garden fringed by the dramatic escarpments of the Great Dividing Range. Unlike Glenrock this garden is a mixture of exotic and native plantings which thrive in wide sweeping banks of planting which follow the contours of the valley. Their design combines the use of colour, shape and texture to form both a harmonious and contrasting effect. A stunning water feature anchors the garden in the landscape.
Today’s program also includes a brief visit to the historic town of Tenterfield, where Banjo Paterson met and married Alice Walker, and where Sir Henry Parkes made his famous 1889 speech calling for Australia’s federation. Tonight we dine tonight at the lodge’s Highlands Restaurant. (Overnight Glen Innes) BLD
Day 7: Monday 25 October, Glen Innes – Stonehenge – Guyra – Armidale
- Stonehenge Station
- Ollera Station, Guyra
We start the day with a visit to one of the oldest gardens in the district, Stonehenge Station which was settled in 1838 by the Boyd family and it is thought that this is when Mrs Boyd planted many of the English trees which form the foundation of the garden. A driveway entrance of venerable English elms has been a much-loved landmark for more than one hundred and fifty years. The park-like gardens feature significant American, Asian and European trees, sweeping lawns and picturesque dams.
We next visit Ollera Station, located on the Northern Tablelands, 20km northwest of Guyra. We enjoy lunch at ‘Cabarfeidh’, once part of Ollera Station and now a separate property owned by the same family. It has a beautiful historic garden with ancient elms, oaks and a wonderful line of pines shaped into an arc.
In 1838 John and George Everett took up the Ollera run and today the property continues to be managed by the family who pioneered it. Ollera became essentially a semi-autonomous village with its own bakery, post office, store, bank, school (1862), and church. We will take a guided tour of this ‘living museum’ which retains its historic outbuildings. Of special interest is St Bartholomew’s Church. Built in 1876-77, it was designed by Canadian born John Horbury Hunt and features stained-glass windows commemorating the pioneers of Ollera. The church and Ollera Station are listed on the Register of the National Estate.
In the late afternoon we arrive in Armidale, dubbed the ‘Cathedral City’, of the New England High Country. We will be based here for six nights at the recently refurbished Tattersalls Hotel which still retains many of its fine Art Deco detail. (Overnight Armidale) BL
Day 8: Tuesday 26 October, Armidale – Thalgarrah – Armidale
- Eynsford Garden
- Morning tea at Cotswold Gardens
- New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM): The Howard Hinton Collection
- Museum of Printing & the Black Gully Printmakers (BGP) & printmaker Lizzie Horne
We begin this morning with a visit to the garden of Eynsford located in the heart of Armidale. The gracious two storey residence, which was built in 1927 of Armidale blue brick combined with mock Tudor timber and stucco, was designed by prominent local architect Robert Hickson and built by a prominent local business man William Curtis as a wedding present for his son. Magnificent trees which pre-date the house shelter plantings of azaleas, roses, camellias and a vegetable potager. One of the largest Ginkgos in New England is a stunning feature in the garden. We will then walk next door for morning tea at the Cotswold Gardens restaurant which was originally William Curtis’s family home, built in the late 1800s.
Judith Wright (1915–2000) was born at her mother’s family property, Thalgarrah, and raised on the family’s nearby sheep station, Wallamumbi. Oldest child of Phillip and Ethel Wright, her early education was at home and the first part of her life therefore centred on station life and her family’s many country homes. Thalgarrah was her favourite! From a young age Judith gained a strong environmental knowledge. It was at New England Girls’ School that she developed a greater understanding of poetry. Although she spent her formative years in Brisbane and Sydney, and later in Braidwood near Canberra, her family’s connection to the New England region was fundamental to her writing, and she described it in her poem Train Journey as the ‘country that built my heart’. This morning we visit Thalgarrah where we will hopefully be joined by poet, Catherine Wright, Judith Wright’s niece, who grew up at Wallamumbi Station. We also meet Thalgarrah’s owners, John and Geraldine Robertson, who are passionate about the property’s history.
On the eastern shore of Sydney Harbour lies Little Sirius Cove, the site of Curlew Camp where several artists such as Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and Sidney Long worked in the late 1800s. A regular visitor to the camp was company director Howard Hinton (1867–1948). His purchases from the Curlew Camp artists made him one of the most important art patrons of the era. These works are now displayed in the New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM). This afternoon we will tour the ‘Howard Hinton Collection’ to admire works by Arthur Streeton, Margaret Preston, Elioth Gruner, Tom Roberts, Rupert Bunny, Adrian Feint, Norman Lindsay, Roy de Maistre and Nora Heysen.
Within NERAM lies the Museum of Printing which represents the history of printing in Australia from 1850 to the early 1900s. During our guided tour we will see important printing presses, a linotype machine, guillotines and book binding equipment. The museum is also home to the Black Gully Printmakers, a community of artists and print enthusiasts who, in 2019, created diverse works for the exhibition ‘Between the Lines’ which aimed to illustrate the words of Judith Wright and the landscapes that influenced her so profoundly. We hope to meet with award-winning printmaker, Lizzie Horne, who is also a published poet and children’s writer. (Overnight Armidale) BL
Day 9: Wednesday 27 October, Armidale – Uralla – Invergowrie – Armidale
- Heritage Walking Tour with Graham Wilson OAM (incl. the McCrossin Mill)
- The Gael Garden, Uralla
- Free time in Uralla
- Invergowrie Homestead
We begin this morning with a heritage walking tour of Uralla led by historian, Graham Wilson OAM. The town of Uralla (pop. c. 2,388) is located on the Northern Tablelands 1,000 metres above sea level, some 23 kilometres south west of Armidale. Uralla’s high altitude means it has cool to cold winters and mild summers. Its rich history is reflected in more than 50 buildings and sites of heritage significance. .It formed part of the territory of the local Aniwan people and its name ‘Uralla’ meant ‘a ceremonial meeting place and look-out on a hill.’ In the 1830s and 1840s the land was occupied by squatters attracted by the New England Tableland’s prime sheep grazing pasture. Early station buildings like Balala and the Gostwyck Chapel, have been placed on the Register of the National Estate. Uralla achieved the status of ‘town’ when the gold rush in the Rocky River area increased its population to over 5,000. By 1859 Uralla had three hotels, stores, a post office, a flour mill and a school. Further gold discoveries brought more prosperity. In 1927 Uralla’s hinterland was subdivided for soldier settlement. The area is renowned for its super-fine and ultra-fine wool for use in the fashion industry. A number of vineyards have also been established and produce a variety of cool-climate wines. Apples and other fruit which require colder weather are grown here. The notorious bushranger Captain Thunderbolt (Frederick Ward) is buried in the old Uralla Cemetery (John Street), and a statue and a number of street and other place names celebrate this infamous local. Among Uralla’s heritage-listed sites are the New England Brass and Iron Lace Foundry; Uralla railway station; Blanch’s Royal Oak Inn and ‘Captain Thunderbolt’s Rock’. A community collectively bought and restored McCrossins Mill in the 1980s and 1990s; this is now a multi-award-winning museum, gallery and function centre still run by volunteers. The town also boasts an antiquarian book store, numerous galleries, antique stores and cafes.
Our walking tour will conclude at the Gael garden a fascinating little garden lovingly created by its current owners around an old bank building in Uralla’s main street. Here borders overflowing with perennials and shrubs, vistas and many points of interest have been created; the owners recently bought the property next door so they could expand their garden even further.
We next visit historic Invergowrie Homestead c.1875. It was originally built and has recently been restored by members of two families, the Moffatts and the Mitchells who are linked by a past marriage. The cottage and surrounding outbuildings have all been faithfully restored as has the garden, with the restoration remaining faithful to the original 1880s garden plan of James Mitchell who was a keen gardener. Behind a huge box hedge a stunning formal rose garden has been re-established along with charming borders overflowing with perennials, and a vegetable garden. Rich autumn colour features throughout in shrubs, roses and grapevines. The recent construction of a heritage- style family museum has museum quality archival storage and display spaces which do justice to the long and varied history of the property. Lunch will be served in the historic cottage known as the Bachelors Quarters. (Overnight Armidale) BL
Day 10: Thursday 28 October, Armidale
- Saumarez Homestead & Garden
- Trevenna, The Vice Chancellors Garden (to be confirmed)
- Booloominbah Historic House (exterior only)
Today we view three historical properties associated with the pastoralist White Family – Saumarex, Trevenna and Booloominbah. We travel to the outskirts of Armidale to spend the morning at the National Trust property, Saumarez Homestead. In 1874 Francis White purchased Saumarez from Henry Arding Thomas for the princely sum of £40,000. However, shortly after the sale he died suddenly and his eldest son, Francis John White (Patrick White’s uncle) took possession. The pastoral property was originally 3000 ha. and the White family worked the property until the land was sub-divided, with 10 ha. including the historic homestead, donated to the National Trust in 1984. The two-storey Victorian-Edwardian mansion, designed by John Wiltshire Pender, was built between 1888 and 1906. We’ll take a guided tour of this magnificent, fully-furnished, 30-room mansion. The property features over 15 outbuildings including a store building, stables, poultry yard and slaughter house. The garden was always an integral part of family life at Saumarez with a picking garden, daughter Mary’s garden, a formal front garden with large trees, an aviary and glasshouse, Mrs White’s rose garden, and originally an extensive vegetable garden and a very large orchard (the latter is now the site of a significant Heritage Rose Garden planted with over 1000 roses by local members of the Australian Garden History Society).
Trevenna has been the residence of a succession of Vice-Chancellors of the University of New England since 1962. This historic home, which was designed by renowned architect John Horbury Hunt in the 1890s, was bequeathed to the university by Florence Wilson, the daughter of Frederick White. Many of the exotic trees surrounding the homestead were planted in the 1880s by the White family. The layout of the garden dates back to the construction of the house and is based on the style of a traditional English garden with wide borders planted with shrubs and perennials, a sunken garden, extensive dry stone walls and an iconic stone sundial.
Booloominbah is one of the nation’s most magnificent country houses. Built from 1884 to 1889, the house was also designed by John Horbury Hunt in the Federation Arts and Crafts style, for Frederick White, the great uncle of Nobel-Prize-winning novelist Patrick White. It was conceived as a ‘gentleman’s house’ “that would reflect White’s status as a community leader and successful pastoralist”. We will view the exterior of this historic house. (Overnight Armidale) BL
Day 11: Friday 29 October, Armidale
- Morning at leisure
- Historic tour of Armidale, Dangarsleigh Memorial, Dangar Falls, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park
- Chevy Chase
- Dinner at Peterson’s Guesthouse & Winery
Armidale (pop. c. 24,504), administrative centre of New England’s Northern Tablelands’ region, is Australia’s highest city (alt. 1000m). Its high elevation gives it a mild climate, with pleasant warm summers, extended spring and autumn seasons, and cold winters with some frosty nights. It becomes like New England in the USA when in autumn the introduced birch, ash and poplar set the city and its hinterland ablaze with reds, golds and browns. Armidale was founded in the 1840s to support pioneering farming families in the wool and cattle industries. It was proclaimed a city in 1885. It is a cathedral city, being the seat of the Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops of Armidale. With its grand architecture and impressive cathedral spires that dominate the Armidale skyline, it is one of the most beautiful cities in NSW. The city’s role as a leading education centre was forged with the founding of Armidale Teachers College in 1928, and then 10 years later, the New England University College, a college of the University of Sydney. In 1954, the college became the University of New England, the first university outside an Australian capital city.
Armidale has many fine historic buildings, including St Peter’s Anglican Cathedral, designed by Australia’s famous Canadian-born architect, J. Horbury Hunt. St Mary’s and St Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral (1911–1912) is a Gothic revival church of Pyrmont stone and polychrome brickwork. The city’s grand, two-storey High Victorian town hall was completed in 1883. Its two-storey Classical brick and stucco post office (1880) was designed by the famous architect, James Barnet, the balcony and colonnade were added in 1897 by W.L. Vernon. The two-storey brick and stucco Imperial Hotel (1889) is Armidale’s oldest surviving hotel. This highly ornamented building features extensive and elaborate cast-iron frieze work on the verandahs, bull nosed awnings, and extravagant parapets decorated with Grecian urns and pediments on arches. The interior retains an air of Victorian opulence. These are just some of the many fine buildings you will encounter in the city.
After a morning at leisure to allow you to explore Armidale, we shall embark on a special heritage coach tour of Armidale and local district led by local historian, Graham Wilson OAM. The tour will encompass the many churches in town and other historic buildings with occasional stops and tours of many of them with an emphasis on private houses, as well as heritage parks and gardens and public buildings with Graham who is widely recognised as an expert across New England.
A special focus of the tour will be the contribution to the district of two local land-owning families, the Dangars and Perrotts. For example, we will visit the grand Dangarsleigh Memorial to the fallen of World War I which was built by Alfred Haroldston Perrott, who lost his eldest son in World War I. He wished as he stated, to ‘do something to keep forever green the memory of those poor boys who would never return.’ The Dangar family also lent its name to Dangar Falls in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. We shall visit these falls which offer some of the most awesome views in the Northern Tablelands. We look out across deep ravines and gorges of the northern edge of the Park. After a downpour of rain the mighty falls come alive, plunging 120 metres into a ravine, filling it with mist and rainbows.
We end our day by visiting Chevy Chase, a sheep grazing station that was famous for its super fine merino wool production. Chevy Chase was originally part of a much larger Dangar property called ‘Gostwyck’ which was subdivided and the Perrott family bought the block of land in 1905 and named it Chevy Chase. The station, which remained in the Perrott family for many years, evolved when Alfred Harold Perrott built an imposing family homestead (1908–1911) for his wife and family on land he purchased in 1905 and 1906. This imposing home, which combines Victorian and Edwardian stylistic elements, comprises five family bedrooms; a huge dining room; sitting and drawing rooms; an office; a large walk-in pantry; and a back wing consisting of a dairy, storeroom, laundry and meat room. It has eight marble fireplaces, each of a different design! We shall enjoy a tour of the gardens where five Bunya pines and a number of palm trees, characteristic of the early Federation garden style survive in good health. Trellises and archways as well as many of the early rose bushes remain in the formal rose garden. The present owners, using stone from the property have built stone walls and steps which complement the old garden. A charming feature of the property are its dog kennels built at the same time as the house, also in brick with pitched roofs and cement feeding bowls, an indication of the high esteem in which the Perrotts held their dogs! We conclude our visit with a concert in the grounds by students from the New England Conservatorium of Music.
We then travel to dine nearby at the historic Peterson’s Guesthouse & Winery. Formerly known as ‘Palmerston’ the heritage listed house, which was built in 1911, was designed by architect Frederick George Castleden and is considered a fine example of Edwardian Bungalow architecture. The estate is rich in history. Also owned by the Dangars, for several years it was managed by the Former Queensland premier A H Palmer. Parts of the original garden survive and invite exploration. We shall enjoy the best produce New England has to offer including its award-winning cool climate wines. (Overnight Armidale) BD
Day 12: Saturday 30 October, Armidale – Dumaresq – Armidale
- Fangorn Private Botanic Garden & Bushfood Morning Tea, Dumaresq
- Farewell dinner at the Tattersalls Hotel
We start the day with a visit to Fangorn, a native garden owned and much loved by one of Australia’s foremost authorities on native plants, and a local ABC Regional Radio garden host. She established the garden over 30 years ago and then renovated it in 2007. The botanic garden comprises two very large bush gardens which allow for many different microclimates. The garden is situated at approximately 1100m above sea level and is built on a ridge of floating basalt. The climate here is cool temperate with winter minimums reaching -15C and summer maximums rarely exceeding 35C. The garden hosts the National Living Correa Collection and the owner is the author of four books on native plants in Australia including the definitive guide to correas. The owner will provide us with a Bush Tucker Morning Tea – a rare and very special treat, based on recipes from her latest book.
Next we visit the lovely old garden of Micklegate. A circular driveway in the front of the house is lined with exotics resplendent in their Autumn coats. To one side gently curving beds are planted with a great range of shrubs, perennials and bulbs and on the other side an extensive rose garden contains dozens of repeat flowering roses in their full Autumn glory.
Nearby is the garden of Auchinlea. Here, a great variety of mature trees including maples, tulip, poplars and liquid amber ash have been planted against a backdrop of radiata pines. Under these trees, beds of perennials and shrubs thrive and walks have been skillfully created leading from one garden area to the next. There is also a woodland with oaks, silver birches and a variety of trees, a vegetable garden and extensive stone walls and paths which give added structure to the garden. We will enjoy lunch in these tranquil surroundings before returning to Armidale for some time at leisure.
This evening we enjoy a farewell dinner at the Tattersalls Hotel’s fine dining restaurant. (Overnight Armidale) BLD
Day 13: Sunday 31 October, Armidale – Sydney
- Transport NSW Bus service to Sydney (0840-1639hrs)*
We depart Armidale this morning for our return journey to Sydney. We are scheduled to arrive in Sydney at approximately 1639hrs, where our tour officially ends. B
* Travel to Sydney was originally by North West Xplorer Train. A bus replacement service is now scheduled to operate along the entire length of this route throughout October as work on the Inland Rail is undertaken.
Participants may elect to take a flight to Sydney rather than the Transport NSW public bus. Please contact ASA for further details.