Arguably the most famous resident was Peter Allen, an Australian singer songwriter who went on to have international fame with hits such as I Go to Rio, I Still Call Australia Home, and Arthur’s Theme from the movie, Arthur, for which he won an Academy Award for best original song. Peter was born in Tenterfield and made the town famous with his song Tenterfield Saddler, about his grandfather, George Woolnough who was the saddler in the town from 1908 to 1960.
One of Australia’s most famous writers and bush poets, Banjo Paterson, also lived in Tenterfield for a short time in the early 1900s. Coincidentally, he was a regular visitor at George Woolnough’s saddlery. Banjo proposed to his sweetheart, Alice Walker of Tenterfield Station, at the Boonoo Boonoo Falls lookout in Tenterfield. They were married at St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Logan Street, Tenterfield, on 8 April 1903.
A number of Australia’s first politicians lived in Tenterfield. Sir Stuart Alexander Donaldson purchased land in the region in 1844 and named it Tenterfield Station, after which the town was later named. He went on to become the first Premier of NSW in 1856. Sir Henry Parkes was first elected into Parliament in 1854, and in May 1872 he became Premier of New South Wales, serving as Premier on five occasions, spanning eleven years. His political campaign peaked with his famous Federation Speech to the people of Tenterfield in 1889, and, in doing so he won immortality as the ‘Father of Federation’ with his catchcry, ‘One People. One Destiny’.
The infamous Australian bushranger, Captain Thunderbolt, also spent time in the region, having a number of hideouts around Tenterfield.
Many war heroes also called Tenterfield home, including:
J. F. Thomas, who defended Breaker Morant and five other defendants in the notorious war crimes case during the South African War in 1902. He also owned the Tenterfield Star Newspaper, which is still in publication today.
Oliver Woodward, who was awarded the Military Cross (2 bars) during WWI. Oliver was a tin miner and engineer born in Tenterfield (in a cottage which still stands today) who went on to be instrumental in the destruction of ‘Hill 60’ at the commencement of the Battle of Messines.