Nature holiday destinations in Armidale and the New England
A visit to Armidale and the surrounding areas means an opportunity to experience the many national parks and native destinations that our region has to offer. And with the New England currently in the midst of spring, now is the perfect time to go exploring!
1. The Pine Forest
Located just out of town, The Pine Forest (sometimes called the Armidale State Forest) is popular with locals and tourists alike. With wide open spaces, twisting pathways, and the river-like Tilbuster Pond, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. You’ll likely come across bushwalkers, mountain bikers, horse riders, dog walkers, and picnickers.
Take your pick between the eastern and western sections, which is split by the creek. Following hail damage and consequent felling back in 2006, you will find that the eastern section is more densely populated by the beautiful native pines. But there is certainly much to be seen and discovered throughout the entire forest.
Please note that vehicles are not allowed on the park, so make use of the easy access around the entry gates.
Where: Rockvale Road
3.5km north-east of Armidale
2. Gostwyck Chapel
More formally known as All Saints Anglican Church, Gostwyck Chapel is a beautiful 1921 building, made entirely from bricks fired on Gostwyck Station. The Chapel is protected by a stone wall and surrounded by over 200 Elms to help protect against floodwaters.
If you’re in the area during autumn, Gostwyck Chapel is definitely worth a return visit. The leaves turn a stunning red, almost painting the creeper-clad building, making for some memorable photo opportunities. Even in spring, this historic building is a brilliant place to relax and reflect.
Remember that the Chapel is located on private property, so please drive slowly and carefully, and remain aware of potential livestock.
Where: 1081 Gostwyck Road
Gostwyck, NSW, 2358
3. Dangars Falls
Find a peaceful place for a picnic or gaze down at the plunging 120m waterfall — Dangars Falls is a pinnacle of rural entertainment. Barbecues are freely available for those who are interested, while children will love dipping their toes in the river and watching the fish.
If you feel like stretching your legs, head along McDirtys walking track. You’ll often see some eastern grey kangaroos, as well as a wide variety of birds, such as crimson rosellas and scrub wrens. Venture out far enough and you’ll come to the brilliant Rock Wallaby lookout. Make sure you’re prepared for the hike; McDirtys is approximately 6km long.
Where: Dangarsleigh Road
Oxley Wild Rivers National Park
4. Dumaresq Dam
Dumaresq Dam is a great family recreation spot. There’s plenty of room to kick a ball or throw a frisbee, ride a bike, feed the birds, or play on the playground. There are also toilet facilities, a picnic shelter, gas and wood-fired barbecues, and, of course, the large expanse of water, perfect for fishing (with plenty of trout and maybe some bass) or canoeing (made easy by the boat ramp). In late spring, you might even come across blackberries to pick.
The ultimate achievement would be in completing the full circuit — a 2.5km walking track that weaves through the eucalypt woodland around the entire dam. The path is an easy, child-friendly track, with only a small amount of rock-hopping in one section.
Where: Dumaresq Dam Road
12km north-west of Armidale
5. Uralla Alma Park
The perfect place for picnics and play, Alma Park is located just one block from Uralla’s main street. In springtime, the park’s many trees, gardens and flower beds thrive; visitors love to take a stroll along the meandering pathways, through the locally forged iron lace rotunda, across the footbridge on Uralla Creek, and (if they’re up to the challenge!) around the nearby Mount Mutton trail.
Alma Park also has a children’s playground, toilet facilities, and two free electric barbecues, making it a popular destination for Sunday picnics and family entertainment. And if you’re in town in October, you’ll see Alma Park come alive with markets, music, and activities for the Thunderbolt’s Festival.
Where: 32 Salisbury Street
Uralla, NSW, 2358
6. Mother of Ducks Lagoon
With over 87 bird species living in and around it, the Mother of Ducks Lagoon Nature Reserve is a delight for anyone, from young children to seasoned birdwatchers. You can see a wide variety of birds, including black swans, ibis, cormorants, grey falcons, and more. The Lagoon is also home to snake-necked tortoises, Booroolong frogs, and lush, organic plant life.
Located just a small distance from Guyra, it is a popular camping area, but also an excellent outing. After you’ve finished wandering the observation platform, you can enjoy a good meal across the road at the Guyra Bowling Club.
Where: McKie Drive
Guyra, NSW, 2365
7. Ebor Falls
Go bushwalking, enjoy a picnic, and watch the Guy Fawkes River plunge 100m at Ebor Falls. Located 1km out of Ebor (on Armidale’s side), Ebor Falls is a great spot for a family outing. The walking tracks are suitable for children, and include three lookout platforms, which provide amazing views into the rugged gorge below.
Late spring and summer are the ideal times to enjoy the sight of golden daisies, native violets, and rare orchid flowers blooming around the upper falls. And don’t forget to take your binoculars if you’re a fan of bird-watching; if you’re lucky, you might even see a wedge-tailed eagle soaring above the grassy woodlands.
Guy Fawkes River National Park is also a great place for fishing, swimming, canoeing, and bushwalking. Keep an eye out for the brush-tailed wallabies that are often found in the park’s rocky areas.
Where: Waterfall Way (1km from Ebor)
Guy Fawkes River National Park
8. Saumarez Homestead Gardens
Saumarez Homestead is a highlight for many Armidale visitors. This two-storey, thirty room Edwardian mansion dates back to 1888, and has been carefully preserved to transport you back to 19th century pastoral life.
The many gardens of Saumarez span across 4.4 acres, and were planned on the model of an English prototype. They include trees, shrubs and exotic plants from Africa, Europe, Asia, New Zealand, and more. Take a tour of the home, stroll through Mary White’s garden, visit the picking garden, relax in the heritage rose garden, and experience everything that this State Heritage attraction has to offer.
The gardens, grounds and farm area are open every day of the week, with guided house tours and the Saumarez Café also available on Weekends and Public Holidays during spring, summer and autumn. Prices start from $5 for children and concession.
Where: 230 Saumarez Road
(entry via Armidale Airport on the New England Highway)
9. Blue Hole
Whether you want a scenic track for bushwalking, a challenging landscape for rock-hopping, or a peaceful place for swimming, you’ll find it at Blue Hole. Pack up the car with towels, a picnic, and some cold drinks, and head out for a day of outdoor fun. (Please note that the road is partially unsealed, so prepare for a bumpy drive!)
If you’re so inclined, you can cook up a feast at the available barbecues in the shade of the towering redgums and blackbutts. In spring, the heathlands thrive with blooming flowers, making for some beautiful scenery.
The waterfalls and rivers are at their most impressive after some rain, but you’ll always find somewhere pleasant to dip your toes or wade right in.
Where: Castledoyle Road
Oxley Wild Rivers National Park
10. Moore Park
We would be remiss in devising a list of natural wonders for your holiday without mentioning that which lies beyond your own door. When you stay with us at Moore Park Inn, you will find yourself situated among sweeping rural acres and landscaped gardens, filled with plenty of native trees, flowers, and birdlife. Spring is the perfect time to see our beautiful wisteria, along with the other flowers throughout the grounds.
From the moment you arrive along our tree-lined entry, you will begin to discover the peace of the New England environment. Our country homestead is isolated enough to provide privacy, but sufficiently intimate to ensure high-quality, personalised service. Come and enjoy the ultimate in peaceful hospitality!
Where: 63 Moore Park Lane
Uralla Road, Armidale, NSW, 2350