The best sights of the New England Highway

By Brad East

Finding the best sights of the New England Highway is an enlightening journey that rewards those venturing away from NSW’s more popular coastal highlights. This 883km road from Newcastle-Toowoomba gives you the chance to experience a mix of stunning natural phenomena with a diverse slice of Australian culture. From dramatic ranges to music havens, the New England Highway provides a rewarding journey that feeds both the eyes and minds across inland NSW and Queensland. So what are the best sights on the New England Highway?

Hunter Region

Maitland Parkrun

Most people opt to start their journey at the southern end of the highway – within Newcastle’s outer suburbs. Once you get out of Newcastle’s industrial sprawl you get to see some of the liveliest parts of the entire Hunter Region.

Towns like Hexham and Maitland provide good opportunities to stock up on supplies before heading out further into the country. Slowly, the urban corridor gives way to a mix of grazing farmland and rolling hills. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything not worth checking out.


Glennie Creek Dam Wall

About 70km into the journey, Singleton is a thriving country town that is brimming with hidden gems. Fans of classic history can explore several heritage-listed estates such as Ardesier House which is accompanied by stunning gardens. There’s also close access to many of New South Wales’s best vineyards with much of the Hunter Region’s wineries located not too far from the town.

There’s also the chance to use Singleton as a base to explore some of the state’s most dramatic natural landscapes too. The southern section of Barrington Tops National Park is less than 50km away and there are also direct road links to Wollemi & Yengo National Park – areas with lush forests and serene river valleys.


Main Street of Scone

Moving further inland, the town of Scone provides you the chance to explore what many people dub “the horse capital of Australia”. This town of 4,500 people is home to many top breeders who have gone on to sire champions at races such as the Melbourne Cup and The Australian Derby. The town has several statues dedicated to champion horses bred in the region and are a great way to explore the town’s biggest attraction.

Additionally, the area is a haven for foodies. Within Scone and the surrounding areas, there are dozens of boutique cafes, pubs and wineries to explore. Many of these showcase the best in local produce and offer combinations that can’t be found in Sydney or Newcastle. A perfect place to stop and enjoy a hearty meal.

Liverpool Plains

Liverpool Plains farm land

As you leave the Hunter Valley, the New England Highway stretches deep into the Liverpool Range. This area is dominated by rolling hillsides and low mountain ranges that stretch along the horizon. Among several of these stunning outcrops is the stunning Burning Mountain. This 520m hill sticks out thanks to its striking red surface – a unique look given by a fiery coal seam running beneath the surface. The surrounding parkland is teeming with wildlife and a great chance to look for koalas, echidnas or wombats.



Situated halfway between Newcastle & the Queensland border, Tamworth has grown into one of New South Wales’s most thriving inland towns. Most of this can be down to the fact that Tamworth is considered the “home of country music in Australia”. This claim often comes down to the Tamworth Country Music Festival – the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. It draws many of the biggest names from Australia and the USA to perform every January. On top of the legendary festival, Tamworth is home to the Golden Guitar – a 12m high guitar statue designed to emphasise the town’s love for country music.

But don’t think that music is the only thing Tamworth has going for it. The town has several stunning parks for some tranquil relaxation. Meanwhile, the large increase in tourists to the town has made it a hub for excellent dining with several top-end restaurants now located in the CBD as well as a range of boutique cafes waiting to cater for both locals and tourists alike.



Reaching Armidale, you can officially consider yourself in the heart of the New England Region itself. The self-proclaimed “capital of New England” is one of the NSW’s thriving cultural hubs. The town itself is home to many older buildings with the numerous cathedrals and churches in the town dominating this impressive skyline. Furthermore, the New England Regional Art Museum has a huge collection of works making it one of the most impressive galleries outside of Sydney in the state.

If culture isn’t your thing, then Armidale acts as the perfect base to explore the region’s stunning scenery. A short drive from the town, the stunning rocky outcrops of Cathedral Rock National Park provide excellent sport for spotting eagles and parrots. Meanwhile, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park is home to cascading waterfalls dropping into deep gorges offering perfect photo opportunities to see nature in full force.

Northern Tablelands

Heading past the thriving towns of New England, the New England Highway stretches into the Northern Tablelands. The Northern Tablelands bring a mix of small towns stretching across rolling plains and peaks that top four-figure summits. It brings a wealth of sights as the journey edges ever closer to the Queensland border.

Glen Innes

Glen Innes Town Hall

A trip to the small town of Glen Innes seems like you have been transported into the Scottish Highlands. Surrounded by rolling hillsides, the Celtic history of the town is very much at its forefront. It hosts one of the largest Celtic festivals in Australia every year and sees the town’s rich history celebrated by locals and visitors alike.

Near the town, the Australian Standing Stones are considered a miniature version of Stonehenge, This set of rocky monoliths has stood for centuries and is a unique attraction not found anywhere in the country. A short distance further, Gibraltar Range National Park is a stunning mountain range perfect for hiking and getting off the beaten track should you want to explore the nearby wilderness.


Tenterfield Post Office

The small town of Tenterfield is the last stop on the New England Highway in New South Wales. Tenterfield is known for the Tenterfield Railway Museum which is fronted by its heritage-listed train station – a sign of the town’s previous time as a booming mining town. It also provides close access to Bald Rock National Park – a place known for great views across two states, the entire tablelands and surrounding mountain ranges.

Venturing into Queensland

The journey continues into the heart of Southern Queensland where the New England Highway traverses both the Southern Downs and Darling Downs. As it winds through the Sunshine State, many people divert to Brisbane rather than following the road to its end. However, making that choice can cause you to miss out on some stunning sights.


Warwick QLD

For many, Warwick marks the opportunity to break away from the inland jaunt and cut back to Brisbane. However, the town is more than a crossing point. Surprisingly, Warwick is known for its horse industry – one that the town prides itself in hosting multiple events. This includes an annual elite-level equestrian and showjumping event each May as well as a national rodeo every October. It’s a town that takes a lot of pride in being a country hub within the Southern Downs.


Japanese Gardens

The last real stopping point on the New England Highway is the town of Toowoomba. It’s the largest inland city outside of Canberra and is the hub of much of the local area. The best time to visit the town is in Spring when it bursts into colour with the annual flower carnival. The Carnival of Flowers – held every September – sees many of the town’s parks host specially curated gardens showcasing a range of themes and events to wow tourists from across Australia. It’s a colourful charm that makes the city come alive as the weather starts to warm up.

The Best Sights of the New England Highway

As you can see, there’s something for everyone when exploring the best sights of the New England Highway. Along this 800km journey, you’ll find a mix of thriving country towns, dramatic landscapes and unexpected cultural surprises at almost every turn. It’s why exploring the best sights of the New England Highway is an experience many never forget in a hurry.

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