If you’re up for adventure, the Tamworth region has many unique offerings that will get your heart racing. You could paragliding off a mountaintop, fossicking for gold or gems, or canoeing the rapids – all within roughly an hour’s drive of the city.
At Nundle, anglers must seek out the Arc-en-Ciel Trout Farm, nestled high on the Great Dividing Range above the village. Arc-en-Ciel has been hatching and growing the finest rainbow trout for more than 20 years – recognised by local three-star Michelin chef Ben Davies as “absolutely wonderful” flavours. All fishing tackle can (and must, for biosecurity reasons) be hired. The staff will even clean and gut your catch, pack it in ice or prepare it for your barbecue.
Fossicking for gems and gold in the Peel River or at Sheba Dams will also put a glint in your eye. The Nundle Tourist Information Centre or accommodation providers can help you out with maps, tips and where to hire equipment.
Chaffey Dam is popular for water sports such as waterskiing, swimming, sailing, boating and fishing. There are beautiful parks and reserves for bushwalking and picnicking. Camp sites at Chaffey Dam Camping Reserve and Bowling Alley Point Recreation Reserve have barbecue and toilet facilities. You can also check out the distinctive ‘morning glory’ spillway – one of only two in Australia, named after the flower and capable of discharging 903 cubic metres of water per second. For the fisher, there is Murray cod, yellowbelly, silver perch, catfish and rainbow trout. Nundle Fishing Club also offers accommodation for anglers, waterskiers and bushwalkers.
Just beyond Hanging Rock village are Sheba Dams, a lovely spot for picnic or a bushwalk. There are barbecue facilities, and the bush setting is replete with trees, birds, lizards, wallabies and pademelons. This is regarded as good fossicking country, with zircons, sapphires and other semi-precious stones to be found.
DAG Sheep Station outside Nundle village offers tours through the New England ranges in a 4WD bus that allows passengers to go offroad, see historic stations, have morning tea in bushland and lunch at a country pub.
Out from Barraba, Horton Falls Reserve is great for the bushwalker. For the fitter person, there’s a two-hour walk to base of the gorge, for which the reward is stunning scenery – but there’s also an easier track from the car park to the top of the falls. In this reserve, you can also take a swim or rough it camping.
Split Rock Dam on Manilla River is a popular spot for boating, fishing and camping. The fish species include black bream, jewfish and Murray cod.
For an unforgettable taste of outback working life, book with Leconfield Jackaroo and Jillaroo School at Kootingal. There are 5- or 11-day courses for those needing a refresher or people just wanting a truly Australian experience. Horse whispering, sheep shearing, cattle mustering, working-dog demonstrations, fencing and whip-cracking will be just some of your activities. The school also gives half-day trail rides; as well as full-day and overnight programs with a trail ride as well as some of the activities above. They are all suitable for families and beginners.
Manilla is one of the world’s best locations for paragliding, sky sailing and hang-gliding. Manilla Paragliding at Mt Borah is the nation’s only world-class flying facility and school, owned and run by a certified chief flying instructor. You might visit to take in the spectacular sight of a competition, go for a tandem instructional flight, or – if you’re really serious about the sport – book for the nine-day licence course, privately or in a small group.
West of Manilla, Lake Keepit offers boat hire so you can take advantage of this excellent boating and watersports location. Fishing is also good, and you could hook a silver perch, yellowbelly, Murray cod or even catfish.
For those who like the water and the air, there’s Lake Keepit Soaring Club. Book a pleasure glide in a sailplane with a skilled, qualified pilot. They can even organise something special like a bottle of bubbly when you land. If you’d like to learn how to glide, the club has a full-time instructor-manager, and safe, easy-to-fly two-seat gliders.
Manilla Ski Gardens is on the eastern side of the lake and has a caravan park, kiosk, playground equipment, barbecues, boat ramps and fisherman's lodges.
Out from Manilla, the Namoi River through Warrabah National Park allows you to bushwalk, rockclimb or – if you’re brave and experienced enough – negotiate the grade-3-plus rapids in your canoe.
Golfers can enjoy some great rounds in gorgeous bush surrounds in Tamworth and the region. You can tee off at one of five courses.