Tenterfield with Kids
Our first week on the road post covid-19 lockdown, we headed a couple of hours down the road to the beautiful Tenterfield. Even though some borders are still closed, including the Queensland/NSW border camping is now allowed in NSW so we decided it was time to hit the road again to make the most of the time we have in our caravan. Even though we could cross the QLD border given that we’re QLD residents we decided we wouldn’t just yet and we would head west instead and stay in NSW for a little bit longer. Tenterfield was our first stop.
Currently in the middle of winter and having been living in FNQ for the last 5 years, it seems like a pretty crazy thing to do considering it has been known to snow in Tenterfield on the odd occasion but its turned out to be a great decision! While there has been no snow, the first morning we woke to a very heavy frost all around our caravan. It was a very exciting morning when the kids woke up and I told them to look out the window. Ashtons reaction of “DID IT SNOW?’ was priceless! We went outside and took in the grass and leaves covered in ice, a novelty for those of us used to living in the tropics. All I can say is thank goodness we have a heater!
We decided to stay at the showground because it is so central and we didn’t really need amenities as we had plenty of things to do outside of a caravan park. We did consider staying at the Tenterfield Lodge and Caravan park and actually would have been happy to pay the extra money it would have cost us to support the local parks, that was until we read this on their website: “Our park caters to the mature traveller and grey nomads. If you are travelling with children, you should note that we do not provide a pool, jumping pillow, play equipment or rental bikes etc. Bikes, scooters, skateboards etc. and ball games are not permitted within the park.” They may as well have written if you have kids do not come here!!! I mean I have no issue with it having no play equipment, but c’mon guys really, I know kids can be a little painful at times but I feel like this is maybe a little too harsh? I was a little shocked by it to be honest, anyway it was a great outcome in the end because we paid $25 per night for power and water at the Showground, and it was honestly everything we needed and the caretaker is really lovely, we could not have asked for a better, cheaper place to stay. We originally only paid for 2 nights but ended up staying 4 as there is so much to do here.
We were late getting in the first night so we just set up, had dinner and went to bed. The next day after the initial excitement of seeing a frost we spent the morning catching up on schoolwork for the kids and work for us, then we set out on foot to find the information centre so we could plan the rest of our days. Due to covid the information centre wasn’t functioning as usual and we weren’t allowed inside but we were still able to talk to a lady through a plastic window and she gave us some info and booklets on things to do and see. Included was a map of all the beautiful old buildings scattered around the town so we walked around checking them out and finding the famous Tenterfield Saddler. Unfortunately The Tenterfield Saddler was closed also due to covid, but we peeked through the windows and checked out the outside of it anyway! I’ve always been someone who would choose nature walks over town walks, but I have to say if you ever want to do a town walk make it of Tenterfield, the old buildings are just gorgeous and we liked having the map to tell us a bit about each one, some of our favourites were the Post Office, the Courthouse and the Tenterfield Star building. We also went and checked out the Cork Tree, someone brought it over from England in a jar in 1861 and planted it. It could possibly be the biggest in Australia, it is positively huge, and we had actually never seen a cork tree before either, all in all a worthwhile 5 minute drive!
Day 2 we woke to cold drizzling rain. Our plan had been to climb Bald Rock but given the weather we decided to checkout the Tenterfield Railway Station Museum instead. Archie loves museums and this one did not disappoint! This place is like a step back in time, everything in it has been preserved to such a degree that you can almost hear the travellers hustling and bustling back in the day, it is a real credit to the volunteers who have put in all the hard work. There is real trains that you can walk through and the kids even got to pretend to drive, but it doesn’t stop there, room after room is filled with relics from the railway of the past, when it was the main carrier of people, livestock and goods. We filled in a good couple of hours here, there was plenty to see and do. We then took a drive to find the old Sunnyside railway bridge that looked like a cool bit of architecture, we found it and then headed back to the van for lunch. After lunch and some more schoolwork we headed out to take a look at Thunderbolts hideout which isn’t far out of town. It was still drizzling rain and pretty cold but we decided to brave it anyway. Thunderbolt was a famous bushranger who used the large rocks as a hideout and lookout, and created a lot of excitement for the kids. Its a short walk from the main road and relatively easy. We actually went past the actual hideout initially as the track keeps winding up through the rocks, but soon realised we had gone past it and turned around. Ashton decided to reenact Thunderbolt stealing something and took my phone with a glint in his eye, I’m sure he would have made a great bushranger back in the day! It wasn’t raining too much when we came back down so we decided to follow the track to the WW2 tank traps to check them out. Heres the hot tip though, save yourself the walk and hop back in the car and drive, the tank trap site is located right on the side of the road! We walked for a couple of kilometres getting a little lost as the recent bushfires have made it hard to find the path in some areas only to realise if we had jumped in the car and driven 2 minutes down the road we would have been there! We then finished off the day with a drive to the top of Mount Mackenzie, we were thinking we could watch the sunset from there and while I’m sure it would have been beautiful, it was a cool 5 degrees at the top and far too cold for us, so after a quick explore we hightailed it back to a warm caravan for dinner.
Day 3 we woke to more miserable, cold rain. We decided to head out to Bald Rock National Park anyway. Weather app said cloudy and only a 30% chance of rain so we just hoped it would clear so we could climb it. Well it didn’t clear but we climbed it anyway! Bald rock is the largest granite rock in Australia, I’ve climbed it when I was a kid but Joel and the boys had never been there. I’m just going to come out and say it, it wasn’t the best rock climbing conditions, and we literally saw not another soul crazy enough to be doing it in the drizzling rain but we had a great time. Even though visibility was very poor we still saw the beauty in it and the kids loved climbing the steep rock face. Ashton is actually scared of heights and on the walk in to the start of the rock face was telling us he wasn’t doing it, he took one look at it when we got to the bottom and there was no holding him back! He sure wasn’t scared of heights that day, he preceded to beat us all to the top and shout ‘c’mon tribe you can do it, keep going,’ as we all tried to catch him! We also stopped in at Boonoo Boonoo National Park and took the short walk in to the falls and the rock pool, again visibility was very poor but I am sure on a clear day the view would be just epic. We will most definitely do it again in the future when it is not raining just so we can appreciate the amazing views, plus the rocks themselves are beautiful!
While we only had one day of beautiful weather and the rest were drizzling rain and freezing we still really enjoyed what this town had to offer. There was still a couple of things closed due to Covid-19 but we found plenty to do for the time we were there, in fact we could of stayed much longer and did some of the other national parks that are scattered around this area. We also would’ve loved to have done some of the Girraween National Park as we’ve heard great things about it but as the QLD border is still closed and it is actually in QLD we had to skip it this time. Tenterfield has some really cute little shops selling everything from fashion to homewares, and if I wasn’t living in a caravan I could easily have found some things to buy I’m sure! We’d love to come back at a different time of year too as I think depending on the season you would get very different colours in the trees the grass. We made some amazing memories here, and it was nice to kick off our post covid travels on such a high!