Holidays with kids in NSW’s New England region

Welcome to the first blog post in the “Getting to know” series, in which we look at regions around Australia and activities they offer for families on holiday.

Today we are getting to know Inverell & Glen Innes – both located in the New England region of Country NSW. This beautiful region offers a range of nature-based activities and is also steeped in history.

If you are want a family holiday that captures the essence of Australia – from fossicking for precious gems, to walking in spectacular ancient bushland – you should check out this diverse area.

Inverell is located in the Macintyre Valley, about 5 hours drive from Brisbane and 6 hours drive from Newcastle. If you have not heard of Inverell, you might know the name Tom Roberts – the well-known late 19th century Australian artist famous for his landscapes, some of which he captured in the local area.

Inverell is also known as the Sapphire City – and you can try your hand at fossicking for some of these beautiful precious gems.


National Transport Museum: here you can visit the largest voluntary display in Australia, with more than 200 exhibits. Not to forget the girls in the family, there are also displays of dolls, wedding dresses and cake decoration.

Inverell Transport Museum is a must-visit attraction for historic car buffs.
Inverell Transport Museum is a must-visit attraction for historic car buffs.

Inverell Pioneer Village: this recreated village features authentic local buildings and memorabilia.  History buffs can also take a tour of the property and shearing shed immortalised in Tom Robert’s painting, The Golden Fleece (1894). More information is available at the Inverell Visitor Information Centre.

Fossicking:  Inverell is a perfect place to learn how to fossick for gems – but it also has the goods to keep experienced fossickers happy. You can teach the kids how to fossick in a local fossicking park. And if you are lucky enough to make a find, local jewellers can cut and polish your stone for you. Ask at the tourist information office or see 7 Oaks Sapphires.

Watersports:  Copeton Dam is three times the size of Sydney Harbour. Bikes and boats can be hired from the Copeton Waters State Park, which also has accommodation and camping facilities available.

Water activities for all the family at Copeton Waters
Water activities for all the family at Copeton Waters

Kwiambal National Park: As well as scenic walks, this park also offers opportunities for fishing and swimming


The Annual Sapphire City Festival (October), The Great Inland Fishing Festival (December

Where to stay: See Family Friendly Accommodation

More information: Inverell Tourist Information Centre

Glen Innes also has sapphires and fossicking, but is better known as Celtic Country, celebrating its Celtic heritage with the Australian Standing Stones and hosting the Australian Celtic Festival.

This lovely country town, located about 365km from Brisbane and about a 3 hour drive from Coffs Harbour, has a beautiful main street, lined with heritage buildings.


Australian Standing Stones: this national monument honours the Celtic pioneers who helped shape Australia. You should collect a guide from the visitor information centre before visiting.

The Standing stones reflect the our Celtic heritage
The Standing stones reflect the our Celtic heritage

You can also visit the Stonehenge Recreation Reserve, about 12 km from town where you can see the balancing rock and other rock formations.

Fossicking: There are a number of fossicking sites in the local area, including the Fossicker Caravan Park and Bullock Mountain Homestead

Walshpool National Park: Explore this park, which forms part of the Gondawanda Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. This park is home to the largest rainforest wilderness in NSW.

Experience the beautiful scenery at Walshpool National Park.
Experience the beautiful scenery at Walshpool National Park.

Local touring: The area surrounding Glen Innes is steeped in history, including the township of Emmaville, a tine mining town which was the birthplace of St John’s ambulance. You can also visit an array of national parks, nature reserves and conservation areas.


March: Minerama Fossicking and Gem Show is NSW’s largest and includes stalls and guided fossicking.

May: The Australian Celtic Festival is held to coincide with the Queensland May holiday – this year, from 2-5 May. It offers a great opportunity to experience celtic celebrations without leaving Australia. The festival honors a different country annually and 2013 is the year of Scotland.

November:The  Beardies Festival celebrates the region’s history and aims to keep alive the ‘land of the beardies’ – the name it is believed is derived from two original stockmen who helped guide early European settlers to the area. It is also an opportunity to see some amazing beards.

Where to stay: Family Friendly Accommodation

More information: Glen Innes Tourist Information Centre

Have you been to Inverell or Glen Innes? Let other families know about what they should visit or where they should stay.

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