Welcome to Tenterfield

Comfortable with its middle-age, the town takes seriously its responsibilities as the keeper of a significant proportion of Australia's national history. Early settlers in the Tenterfield district left a legacy of buildings which now stand as proud memorials to those whose efforts put the town - and the nation - on the map.

Stannum House, a grand mansion built by 19th Century mining magnate John Holmes Reid, occupies the highest point on Rouse Street. Now a B&B, Stannum is an outstanding example of Victorian grandeur. In High Street, east of the New England Highway, the fine, sandstone building known as Deloraine is also a B&B, though it was once intended to be a synagogue.

On the corner of Rouse Street and Manners Street stands the Post Office, dated 1881. In front is a memorial to Edward Whereat, who stood down to clear the way for Henry Parkes to win the seat of Tenterfield in 1842. Across Manners Street is the School of Arts where Henry Parkes, regarded as the father of Federation, made his famous speech that urged the States toward Federation. Housed in the School of Arts complex is the Henry Parkes museum, the theatre, the library and the Courtyard Café.

Tenterfield claims other political connections, too. Robert Mackenzie arrived from Scotland in 1826 and later became the first Treasurer of Queensland in 1859 and Premier in 1867. Sir Stuart Donaldson, who would become the first Premier of NSW, built Tenterfield Station, where he and Sir Thomas Mitchell, the Surveyor-General fought the last duel in Australia in 1851. Whether it was due to poor aim or nervous tremors is unknown, but no injuries were recorded. By 1903, when Alice Walker and AB 'Banjo' Paterson married in St Stephen's Presbyterian Church, the Walker family owned Tenterfield Station.

Opposite the Royal Hotel in High Street is the famous Tenterfield Saddler, a sandstone building with a wooden verandah. George Woolnough, the third saddler to occupy the premises, was immortalised by his grandson, Peter Allen, in his song, "The Tenterfield Saddler". Peter Allen lived with his grandfather for much of his youth.

The fabric of history cannot veil the vibrancy of the current population of Tenterfield. With a calendar dotted with festivals, there is always a reason to be in this town. Visit the Food & Wine Festival for a chance to sample the local products, and the Oracles of the Bush Festival, a popular annual celebration of bush poetry. If more rural events are what you fancy, there are camp drafting events and sheepdog trials.

Written by Mary Warwick   

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