Like wild freedom to come with luxe bush comforts? On this two-day adventure through the high country between Tamworth and Tenterfield, live the good life at wineries, luxe restaurants and pretty towns dotted between national parks. Then sleep in an off-grid bubble under the Milky Way.
Fly to: Tamworth
You’re headed for… a bush bubble
Before you set off from the heritage town of Tamworth, set your GPS for the clear-top Mirumiru glamping domes, which sit in a scenic, private paddock outside Tenterfield, just under 300 kilometres to the north-east.
At this new bush escape, blissful luxury awaits. Named after 19th-century local bushrangers Captain Thunderbolt and Captain Moonlight, glamping bubbles come outfitted with a queen-sized bed, proper linens, an outdoor bath and a telescope gazing at the billion stars above. If you’ve got kids, they’ll love sleeping in the “glam swag”, in a mini bubble suspended between gumtrees.
The bubbles are a five-minute drive from Tenterfield village, where you’ll find leafy streets brimming with heritage-listed architecture, antique shops and the highly rated Courtyard Café if you can’t skip a barista-made coffee in the morning. And in nearby Bald Rock National Park, you can hike the 3.2 kilometre Bald Rock Summit loop to stand atop the biggest granite boulder in Australia. But nobody would blame you for just settling in and hitting recharge.
Your journey begins here…
The feeling of freedom kicks in when you first touch down in Tamworth, with its wide streets inviting you to wander. Don’t miss a photo in front of the 12-metre-high Big Golden Guitar (well, you have to – this is Australia’s country music capital) before browsing the boutiques of tree-lined Peel Street and grabbing a bite at local favourite The Pig & Tinder Box pub.
Then hit the road for Goonoo Goonoo Station, a gorgeously restored 1840s estate 20 minutes out of town and your digs for tonight. If you’re travelling as a couple, you’ll bed down inside old shearer’s quarters that have been transformed into country-chic suites while families or groups can take over the elegant five-bedroom homestead with its private pool and courtyard, fully equipped kitchen and billiards room.
The New England region is one of NSW’s richest food bowls and in the morning you’ll get one of its best breakfasts at the Glasshouse Restaurant on Goonoo Goonoo’s grounds. Fuel up on zucchini and lemon myrtle fitters topped with middle bacon, local eggs and house-made ricotta at a table with perfect pastoral views. Today is the day you clock up the country miles.
Hit the New England Highway’s highlights
Driving north, make your first pit stop at the under-the-radar Bendemeer Hotel if you need another caffeine fix (or some freshly baked scones). Then wind your way through the Gondwana rainforest of Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. Hop out of the car to marvel at the mist-shrouded Apsley Falls on the walking track around the rim of the gorge; at 1.2 kilometres, the loop won’t take more than an hour. Keep your eyes peeled – and your camera at the ready – for wedge-tailed eagles and bright orchids in springtime bloom.
Fill up in food and wine country
It’s a further 40-minute drive through bucolic farmland to reach Uralla and the New England Brewing Co. where you should stock up on craft beers such as the Truckload IPA made with citrus, pineapple, pine and berries. Then keep going towards Armidale to find Petersons Winery, where lunch might be lamb rump seasoned with porcini butter or muscat-glazed duck breast paired with sips of cool-climate wine from the vineyard (grab a bottle of award-winning riesling for later).
Wander through pretty towns
You should have time to duck into Armidale to take a self-guided walking tour of grand cathedrals and 19th-century homesteads, peruse the New England Regional Art Museum or swing by the sunny courtyard at Art Deco institution Tattersalls Hotel for a non-alcoholic spritz.
Another hour on the road will bring you to the pretty main street of Glen Innes. Stretch your legs at the Standing Stones, a Stonehenge-styled nod to the region’s resemblance to the Scottish Highlands and the early settlers Celtic heritage. From here it’s a little over an hour through rolling green countryside to your bubble tent in the bush.
Once you roll into Mirumiru, your only job is to get the campfire cranking. Dinner cooked by a Tenterfield chef can be dropped to your tent so all that’s left to do is soak in the sunset (and your outdoor tub) as your billy boils and space silently descends upon your bed.
Image credits: Sera J Wright (Mirumiru Dlamping Domes), Destination NSW