Known as the Birthplace of our Nation, Sir Henry Parkes delivered his famous Federation Speech in the Tenterfield School of Arts on 24th October 1889, which ultimately led to the Federation of all Australian States in 1901. The School of Arts now houses a fantastic museum dedicated to the life of Sir Henry Parkes, federation and local history.
Tenterfield was also the birthplace of one of Australia’s favourite sons – entertainer Peter Allen. Born in Tenterfield, his father’s family lived in the area, and his grandfather was the ‘Tenterfield Saddler’ of the day. Immortalised in song by Peter Allen, the Tenterfield Saddler is still standing – the old ceilings wear 130 years of tobacco stains, wooden floors are patched with scraps of leather and visitors can see firsthand the working conditions through the years. For 50 years, this quaint blue-granite saddlery was a key meeting place in town, where George Woolnough (Allen’s grandfather) plied his trade, listening but undisturbed by the chatter and opinions of those who wandered in. Banjo Patterson, another famous Aussie Son, was a regular customer of the Saddler during his time in Tenterfield, where he proposed and married local girl, Alice Walker.
When in town, the Tenterfield Railway Museum is a must-visit! Opened in 1886 by Lord Carrington in one of the ‘biggest events in NSW Railway History’, many of the facilities are still in working condition, and the station platforms and rooms are almost ‘as they were’ when the last train came through in 1989. Only 18kms from the NSW/QLD Border, the Tenterfield Railway has played an important role in both World Wars. The Railway Museum features railway memorabilia, stunning platform gardens, heritage rail vehicles and a magnificent model railway display. For more insight into the difference in railway gauges at the border crossings, the Wallangarra Railway Museum is not to be missed! Back in the day – everyone had to get off one train, and board another, either heading into Queensland or into New South Wales. It didn’t matter who you were – royalty and even entire circuses still had to cross the platform and change trains.
To discover more of Tenterfield’s fascinating history – download the Tenterfield Soundtrail (available in the app store & google play). The Tenterfield Soundtrail caries you up the creek and down the main street of town, and into the history, the hearts and the minds of the locals. Hear stories of the ghosts in the jailhouse, the playful patter of what it means to be a local, talking cats, German brass bands and Peter Allen’s manna from heaven. This is a celebration of Tenterfield – the town, its history and people. Beautiful sounds and stories produced by world-class radio producers … with some help from the kids of St Joseph’s school.
For more information, add the following to your weekend itinerary:
School of Arts Museum
205 Rouse Street, Tenterfield
Open daily 10.00 am to 4.00 pm
123 High Street, Tenterfield
Open Thursday 10.30 am to 2.00 pm
Open Friday-Sunday 10.00 am to 2.00 pm
Tenterfield Railway Museum
Railway Avenue, Tenterfield
Open Daily 9.00 am to 4.00 pm
Wallangarra Railway Museum & Café
60 Rockwell Street, Wallangarra
Open Daily 9.00 am to 3.00 pm (QLD time)
Centenary Cottage Museum
136 Logan Street, Tenterfield
114 Rouse Street, Tenterfield