For an affordable, family-friendly holiday that might just lead to your fortune, try fossicking in these beautiful NSW towns.
Tucked into the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range in the breathtaking Peel Valley lies the charming little town of Nundle. Home to just 300 people, Nundle is perched scenically atop the banks of the Peel River, where fossickers can try their luck searching for gold and crystals.
Nundle is famous for the annual Nundle Dog Race, where four-legged friends of all shapes and sizes compete in a variety of fun races.
A caravan park as quaint as the town itself, Fossickers Way Tourist Park is set on rolling grasslands on the banks of the Peel River. Powered and unpowered caravan and camping sites are set amongst established trees, while cabins are modern, comfortable and available in a range of configurations. Some enjoy views across the river to the Valley beyond, while others look out onto the gardens and tennis courts.
Located an hour north of Tamworth along the Fossickers Way, Barraba is nestled in the heart of the Nandewar Ranges and is surrounded by natural beauty. Straddling the Peel Fault, a geological fault line which runs from north to south, the district is an exceptional area for fossicking and gem hunting.
Climbing nearby Mt Kaputar by 4WD or foot affords breathtaking views across a substantial chunk of NSW, while Horton Falls quite a splash plummeting 83m to the valley floor.
The Playhouse Hotel is housed in premises formerly known as the Central Hotel, which was the oldest of Barraba’s four pubs. As part of the hotel’s 2002 restoration, the disused pool hall was converted into an 80-seat studio-style theatre, hence the name. It offers stylish, boutique accommodation and truly fabulous meals in the downstairs dining room. Family friendly rooms are available.
Bingara is a pretty place with a friendly and healthy environment that oozes peace and tranquility. Its streets are lined with beautiful art deco buildings; architecture fans will love this town. But Bingara has plenty to offer the fossicking crowd, too, with a wealth of gold, rhodonite, jasper and more to be discovered. Whichever road you take out of town you’ll find a spot to fossick.
Nearby Three Creeks Gold Mine offers fossicking and camping for travellers, with basic amenities on site and equipment available for hire.
The Bingara Riverside Caravan Park is situated in an idyllic position opposite the Mighty Gwydir River. Set among beautiful mature trees, shady camping sites are available all year round. Spring is particularly picturesque as the Jacaranda trees create a canopy and carpet of lavender as you approach the park.
Located on the mineral-rich Mole Tableland north of Glen Innes is the historic mining town of Emmaville. Formerly known as Vegetable Creek, the little township boomed with the discovery of tin in 1872. It was estimated that in the early 1900s the population was around 7000. These days, the town emits a sleepier, more laid back vibe with a population of just 300.
The Emmaville Mining Museum is the town’s main attraction, having opened in June 1999. The quaint museum includes an impressive mineral and fossil display
For a taste for rural life visit Oakhurst Cottage Farmstay, a spacious farmhouse on a working property at nearby Deepwater. Once the original homestead on the sheep and cattle property, Oakhurst Cottage in Deepwater has been tastefully restored to its former glory and is now available as private, self-contained accommodation.
5. Glen Innes
Glen Innes is blessed with World Heritage National Parks, rich history and heritage, great food and wine and a thriving creative community. The region is also home to one of the richest deposits of sapphires in the world, making Glen Innes the perfect destination for fossickers and other outdoor adventurers. Nearby there are privately run sapphire fossicking parks, which are ideal for beginners and families. Try Three Waters High Country Holidays.
Nearby Three Waters fossicking area is home to an historic colonial cottage where a family once lived a remote life in the bush. Rumour has it ‘those hard little blue rocks’ were collected and stored in an old tin to be used by the kids to hunt game for dinner.
The perfect place for fossickers to stay, Fossickers Caravan Park is a tidy park an easy walk from the cafes and shops of the main street of Glen Innes. It offers powered and ensuite caravan sites and villa-style apartments. Best of all, the park has a dedicated fossicking area complete with drums, sieves and bags of earth collected directly from local fossicking sites. It can’t get better than that!
Inverell is a charming rural centre located on a sweeping bend in the mighty Macintyre River. Since the mid-1800s Inverell has been famous for the mining of tin, sapphires, zircons and diamonds. Known as the ‘Sapphire City’, it’s little wonder this area is a popular waypoint for fossickers. There are a number of fossicking areas surrounding Inverell, both public and private.
This region supplies around 80% of the world’s sapphires!
Inverell Club Motel
Located adjacent to the RSM Club where cold drinks and hot meals are available, the Club Motel is a 28-room roadside motel with clean, modern rooms where a good night’s rest is guaranteed.
With a deserved reputation as Australia’s ‘Country Music Capital’, Tamworth offers visitors so much more than a thriving music scene, although it certainly has that. Named the “perfect country town” by Australian Traveller magazine, Tamworth is the best of both worlds; it has the ease and charm of a country town with the facilities and convenience of a modern city.
Tamworth is home to the Tamworth Country Music Festival, the largest music festival in the Southern Hemisphere occurring over 10 days in January.
On a quiet bend in the Peel River just a few minutes’ walk from the main drag of Tamworth you’ll find Paradise Tourist Park. It has camping sites, cabins and villas to suit all budgets and family configurations. Kids will love the resort-style pool and modern playground, and you’ll love the sprawling undercover barbeque area and a wonderful camp kitchen with modern appliances.
A quaint town tucked right up near the Queensland border, Tenterfield is easy on the eyes and rich in Australiana and nation-defining history. This is infamous bushranger Captain Thunderbolt’s former stomping ground, and his bush hideouts are dotted in and around the town. It was in Tenterfield that Sir Henry Parkes gave his famous Federation speech, so in a sense this unassuming little town is the birthplace of a nation. The Sir Henry Parkes Museum commemorates this fact, and is well worth a visit.
Tenterfield’s most iconic heritage building is the Tenterfield Saddlery, made famous by Peter ‘The Boy From Oz’ Allen’s famous song, The Tenterfield Saddler. It’s still open today.
If super cute and very cosy accommodation is what you’re after, the Tenterfield Cottage will be right up your alley. Perched high on the hill at the southern end of Tenterfield’s main street, this charming cottage dates back to 1895 and was renovated in 2010. It now has both modern conveniences and heritage charm.
Considered the oldest town on the Northwest Slopes and one of the oldest settled anywhere west of the Great Dividing Range, Warialda was established in the 1830s. It’s an attractive, historic town with interesting architecture telling of its long history and a scenic location perched on Warialda Creek, a tributary to the Gwydir River. Warialda is known for its relaxed pace of life and its warm country hospitality.
The Legend of nearby Cranky Rock suggests the popular nature reserve is so named because A ‘cranky’ Chinese man who was accused of murdering a Warialda woman was chased by the police and evaded capture by leaping to his death from the high rock.
Family-friendly cabin accommodation and camping is available at the Warialda Caravan Park, a nice relaxing holiday park and the perfect place to stay when discovering Gwydir. Across the road from the public pool, it’s perfectly located close to town
Located just 30 minutes north of Tamworth, the small town of Manilla has its roots firmly in the agricultural sector but also has plenty to offer outdoors adventure enthusiasts and history buffs alike. In recent years the town has earned a reputation as a world-renowned centre for paragliding, with nearby Mount Borah having served as the location for a world championship event.
Manilla is a fabulous inland fishing destination, with a number of locations available including the Manilla River, Lake Keepit and Split Rock Dam.
For charming, truly unique accommodation in Manilla, look no further than Abbey on Rowan. Set in a restored, turn-of-the-century convent within an acre of beautifully landscaped gardens, this is a bed and breakfast full of character and warmth.