Tamworth is a city situated in northeast New South Wales, famous for its annual Country Music Festival. But Tamworth is much more than just the heart of Australian country music, and is quickly becoming an emerging food and wine destination. To experience what Tamworth has to offer for yourself, they hold the Taste Tamworth festival every year, and it’s on again soon from the 28 April – 7 May. The festival features 10 days of food and wine focused events which showcase the region’s top restaurants, produce, and wine. I was fortunate enough to join a group of bloggers and journalists to sample a preview of this festival and share with you my favourite places around this fine town!
How to get there
By car – Tamworth is a 5 hour drive from Sydney via the New England Highway.
By train – NSWTrainLink has a direct daily train service to Tamworth, departing from Central Station which takes just over 6 hours.
By plane – Qantas Link has several direct flights to Tamworth per day, which takes only 50 minutes.
Where to stay
The brand new Mercure is located in the heart of Tamworth and the Quality Hotel Powerhouse recently underwent a multi-million dollar refurbishment program. Tamworth is also filled with an array of motels and B&B’s, but if you’re heading there for an event make sure you book early – these places fill up quickly.
I stayed at Goonoo Goonoo Station, a place I loved so much I dedicated a post to it! This luxury accommodation features an array of 1 and 2 bedroom cottages and function spaces. It’s located 25km south of Tamworth, so a bit further afield, but this converted sheep station is well worth the visit.
What to do
The Big Golden Guitar / Tamworth Visitor Information Centre – 2 Ringers Road, Tamworth
Of course, no trip to Tamworth is complete without a visit to the iconic Big Golden Guitar. The Big Golden Guitar Tourist Centre is filled with a collection of over 20 guitars autographed by Australian and International country music icons and there is a gift shop filled to the brim with quirky souvenirs.
Paradise Fresh – Burgman’s Lane, South Tamworth
We head to the southern outskirts of Tamworth to Paradise Fresh, a hydroponic vegetable farm. Brendan North is one of the owners and his passion for fresh, locally grown produce is strong. The farm grows a wide range of leafy vegetables and herbs including pak choy, basil and kale depending on the season. Paradise Fresh also lets you place your fruit and vege order online, and delivers them fresh to your door the same day!
Paradise Fresh will be part of the ‘Farm Gate Trail’ during the Food Festival (it isn’t usually open to the public) if you’re interested in looking behind the scenes of where your food comes from. The Trail is a self-driven tour of a number of local farms in the region is a great way to explore the area in depth.
Addimi Espresso – 306 Peel Street, Tamworth
For the best coffee in town, look no further than Addimi Espresso! Located on Peel St in the centre of town, this cafe dishes up a great range of breakfast and lunch items and makes a mean espresso.
The Workshop Kitchen – 248 Armidale Road, East Tamworth
The Workshop Kitchen is located within the recently refurbished Quality Hotel Powerhouse offering an array of seasonal menus driven by fresh, local New England produce. The interiors of this restaurant are nothing short of stunning, with an open marble bar-lined kitchen, copper light fixtures and dark wooden furniture.
Executive Chef Ben Davies is a three time Michelin Star recipient, so you know the food will be of the highest standard. To start we shared an entrée tasting plate featuring beetroot cured calamari, Thai beef salad, roast tomato tart and Arc-en-Ciel smoked trout. I also couldn’t resist ordering the gourmet wagyu burger on charcoal brioche bun with caramelised onion, blue cheese, roquette and chunky chips.
For dessert we enjoyed an iced strawberry parfait with mixed berry and mint compote and basil syrup, and a dark chocolate mousse with marinated black cherries, natural yoghurt sorbet and chocolate soil.
Ben Rylands from New England Brewing Co also stopped by to enjoy lunch and tell us more about his business. He creates genuine craft beer brewed in nearby Uralla which not only is preservative free and unfiltered, but tastes amazing too.
The Glasshouse Restaurant – 13304 New England Highway Tamworth
Located at Goonoo Goonoo Station, this restaurant offers a delicious range of Modern Australian cuisine in a gorgeous rural setting. Glasshouse Restaurant offers a shared style menu with the menu changing seasonally, and an impressive wine list which features an array of local drinks, with a few classic wines from France, Italy and New Zealand.
Highlights of the meal included a terrine served with char-grilled bread and pickles, beef carpaccio and slow cooked short ribs.
The Pig & Tinder Box – 429 Peel Street, Tamworth
The Pig and Tinder Box resides in a heritage-listed former bank building that was established in 1848. It was one of the first pubs in the New England Region, and these days it operates as a trendy boutique bar with a classic pub twist. It was reinvigorated by Chris Cornforth and Fraser Haughton, who established Percy’s Bar and Kitchen in Orange (a favourite of mine) so I knew we’d be in good hands.
To start we had a passionfruit mojito (possibly my favourite cocktail, ever) and beef tartare made with meat from the local butcher Ford’s.
Next up we sampled some pork belly with chickpea purée and pomegranate salsa and smoked chicken breast (from Nundle Smokehouse) with broccolini.
Dobson’s Distillery at Eastview Estate – 298 Kentucky Road, Kentucky
Dobson’s Distillery is the illegitimate brainchild of Stephen & Lyn Dobson. They’re charismatic, passionate, and a little bit crazy which suits me just fine. Plus, they share my love for gin! Located in the sleepy village of Kentucky, this area is blessed with the most pure rainfall in Australia which contributes to the high quality spirits produced.
Stephen’s previous career in Hollywood shines through in the design of the bottle’s labels, which he also creates himself (talk about an over achiever!) Dobson’s produces an array of flavoured gins including sumac and saffron, along with 100% barley single malt whiskeys, a vodka which is filtered through amorphous volcanic glass and several liqueurs (including the divine Le Caf, a coffee and maple syrup concoction).
Len Waters is from the Kamilaroi people, the traditional Aboriginal custodians of this land, and he has a huge passion for sharing his culture. He gave us a unique insight into the Kamilaroi region and its history, taking us through the bush and showing examples of rock art. We also got to experience an Aboriginal smoking ceremony – it is performed to cleanse the spirit and I found myself getting quite emotional during it.
So if this preview into Tamworth’s food and wine scene has tantalised your tastebuds, mark the the Taste Tamworth festival in your diary (that’s 28 April – 7 May) and book your foodie weekend away, now! There are also loads of fun events on including a Pop-up Bar, Taste in the Park, The Long Lunch and Farm Gate Trail, as well as several Regional Foodie Events.
For more info on Taste Tamworth, event listings and ticket prices, visit destinationtamworth.com.au.
Love Swah visited Tamworth as a guest of Destination NSW. All thoughts and opinions are my own.