Photo: Wollombi Village, Hunter Valley
Too many visitors to New England either travel through or go straight to popular tourist destinations such as Coffs Harbour. In doing so, they miss many of the secrets of inland New England. So come with me on a secret tour.
Our journey starts in Scone and finishes in Glen Innes. Alternatively, start in Glen and then move south.
Leave Sydney early for Scone. You are on holidays, so forget the full express way. The way I am suggesting is about about three and a half hours drive time, so you have plenty of time for excursions.
Take the Peats Ridge exit from the express way and proceed down George Downes Drive towards Wollombi. This brings you onto the original Great North Road constructed by convict labour. Signs of the original work can still be found along the road.
Already you face a hard choice. Wollombi and the following village of Broke both have history, attractions and wine, lots of wine. I am not going to spoil your fun by making suggestions. Investigate and decide where you want to spend your time.
From Broke the road continues on to join the Putty Road and then right towards Singleton. I actually know Singleton quite well, but their web site (at least the one I have found) is very ordinary and does not do the town justice. I am not going to plug a place where I (and you) cannot get the information required to persuade us to stop.
At Singleton we join the New England Highway and then head north through Muswellbrook and Aberdeen to Scone.
Scone (and here) is now known as the Horse Capital of Australia because of the local studs. An attractive town, Scone offers a variety of experiences. Here the Visitor Information and Wine Centre, situated opposite Elizabeth Park (and the mare and foal statue) should be your first stop. It offers suggestions with attractions, dates for special events as well as accommodation and meals.
There is plenty of acommodation in Scone itself. However, for something a little different, you may want to try Belltrees Station, one of Australia's great rural stations still owned by the White family. The Australian writer Patrick White is part of this family.
This ends day one.
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