What to Do in Tamworth When You Make the Road Trip for Great Southern Nights
January 31, 2024
The Australian capital of country music has so much more than acoustic ballads to offer visitors.
The 2024 iteration of Great Southern Nights promises to be the best yet. The sprawling celebration of local artists and live music will see established names share billing with up-and-comers over 17 nights at regional hubs across NSW from Wagga Wagga to the Northern Rivers and, of course, Tamworth.
Tamworth has been Australia’s home of country for almost half a century now – a badge it deservedly wears with pride — and for Great Southern Nights a diverse lineup (including certified pop queen Jess Mauboy) will be hitting the venues to bring some other musical genres to town.
If you’ve never made a trip to Tamworth, this is the moment to do it. Go for the gigs, stay for the city’s many spots to eat, drink, stay and be entertained. Muster up the crew and get on the road with our guide to the Country Music Capital of Australia.
If you’re going to bring live music to Tamworth, you need to honour the local music tradition. So, along with a mixed bag of Aussie talent representing various genres, you need some country-leaning artists. But every genre will be on show from Friday, March 8, to Sunday, March 24.
Veteran Melbourne hip hop star 360 is bringing his show to West Tamworth League Club, as is electro-house DJ Havana Brown. Australian pop royalty Jessica Mauboy is also gracing the stages of Tamworth as one of the biggest draws of the whole festival.
To get more of a flavour of the headline acts, queue up our Spotify playlist here while you read on.
Image: Tamworth Country Music Festival (Destination NSW)
WHERE TO STAY
When choosing a place to stay, the luxury accommodation at the historic Goonoo Goonoo Station is hard to look past. There’s a range of room options ranging from the two-person Shearer’s Quarters to the five-bed, four-bathroom Homestead, and all have phenomenal countryside views, plus it’s home to an on-site restaurant that we’ll get to shortly.
While we’re talking places to stay with great restaurants, the CH Boutique Hotel (which hosts another one of our dining options you’ll find below) is also well worth investigating. Its ideal location makes a great base for exploring the city, with all the trappings you’d expect from an upmarket hotel or serviced apartments if you want more of a home-away-from-home feel.
Another choice is The Powerhouse Hotel, the city’s only five-star property. Fresh from a recent makeover, this family-owned 81-room hotel close to the CBD offers a gym, outdoor pool, spa and sauna.
Image: Goonoo Goonoo Station (Destination NSW)
When comes to Tamworth’s dining scene it doesn’t get better than Glasshouse Restaurant at Goonoo Goonoo Station. Its range of awards – including a coveted Good Food Guide Chefs Hat three years running – is almost as impressive as its menu which mixes local and international flavours to perfection.
If it’s dining in the city itself you’re looking for, The Pig & Tinder Box is a great casual option located in the heritage-listed old bank building. Excellent burgers, pizzas and sharing plates – you can’t go wrong.
For a relaxed and welcoming environment, try DECO Wine Bar and Restaurant. Located in CH Boutique Hotel, it serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is far more varied and expansive than your usual hotel restaurant fare.
Images: Pig & Tinder Box, DECO Wine Bar and Restaurant (Destination NSW)
Craft beers and brewpubs have exploded in popularity in Australia, and that’s by no means limited to the capital cities.
A great local example is The Welder’s Dog, which has expanded beyond its Armidale flagship HQ to a handful of other locations, including this one in Tamworth. There are sours, stouts, pale ales and more, all served up in a laidback atmosphere where there’s even a self-serve platter fridge if you need a snack.
For more of a late-night feel, try The Press Basement Bar, styled like a 1920s speakeasy and with a closing time that may “vary at staff discretion”. Their range of events from open mic nights to drag bingo ensure there’s never a dull moment for punters.
But if the sun is shining and you don’t fancy spending your evening underground, The Tudor Hotel is host to Tamworth’s only rooftop bar. Get your fix of drinks and pub grub in a local institution that’s been a going concern since 1835.
Image: The Welder’s Dog (Destination NSW)
What to see
You might be in town for Great Southern Night but you can’t go to Tamworth and not take in a little bit of country music heritage.
Pay your respects to the nation’s greats at the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame. Visitors get to see a range of exhibits, learn the history of country music in Australia and see how the promotion of a country music radio show in the 1960s led to Tamworth being the nationally recognised home of Australian country. Note that afterwards it’s practically mandatory to get a photo in front of the famous Big Golden Guitar.
The village of Nundle is just under an hour’s drive from Tamworth, and despite the fact it has just 300 inhabitants there’s a ton to do. You can try your hand at fossicking for gold, visit antique stores and charming pubs, stop by the trout farm, and see Australia’s only working woollen mill.
Another option for a short hop out of Tamworth is Uralla. Located on the main highway between Tamworth and Armidale, Uralla has possibilities of breweries, wineries, and picturesque local shops. You can also stop by the Visitor Centre and learn about the last of the New South Wales bushrangers: Captain Thunderbolt.
Images: The Big Golden Guitar, Nundle Woolen Mill, New England Brewing Company Uralla (Destination NSW)
For more information on Great Southern Nights, including the lineup, venues, local areas and to book tickets, visit the website.