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TTG Travel Guides - The New England Road trip for all ages

TTG Travel Guides - The New England Road trip for all ages

I don't know about you, but I've started to embrace the family road trip. I was once firmly in the "If it takes more than four hours you might as well fly" camp, but flight delays, lack of competitive prices and the need to garner learner driver hours, has certainly made the driving holiday a very viable and attractive option. One of my favourite road trips is along the New England Highway, which is also my old childhood stomping ground, making it deliciously nostalgic yet new and exciting due to the many wonderful spots to stop along the way.

So let's start from the top, which, for the sake of this piece is Toowoomba in QLD. It probably should be Crows Nest, QLD, but that little hamlet is worth an entire blog post all on its own. Heading south into the Granite Belt, you will soon enter QLD's original wine region which is filled with all manner of stop worthy spots. However, because this is only about an hour and a half into your trip, I'll just detail my must do places and list a few other highly commended locations. 

Our family cannot drive past Sutton's Juice factory. In fact, each time we've tried, we have been met with a chorus of yells that may or may not threaten violence and anarchy unless the car is turned around instantly. When you first see what is ultimately a tin shed in an orchard you will no doubt to wondering what all the fuss is about and the answer, dear reader, is simply, apples. Suttons creates the most amazing juices, scones, jams, jellies and ciders with the humble apple, but the bit we come back time after time for is the pie. It is the best! Also huge. Jam packed full of apples and served with both cream and a specially make Lick icecream, this pie is the stuff dreams are made of. You can also buy whole pies to takeaway if stopping is not an option.

Other notable spots in this gorgeous area include the towns of Stanthorpe and Ballandean containing numerous eating places and wineries as well as a growing number of oddities including a castle (with turrets) and a pyramid (I kid you not).

After this early (albeit necessary) break, continue south to Tenterfield. This lovely little town has some fabulous shopping, great coffee, gorgeous architecture (take the back streets) and fabulous donuts courtesy of Bad Manners Donuts. Park the car and wander along the main street, making sure you head up the alleys and side streets as well and just soak in all the loveliness the town has to offer.

As you continue south, you may be considering where to break the trip. I work in 5-8 hour daily driving increments (depending on how long I stop for in the towns en-route) which makes anywhere from Armidale to Willow Tree ideal for a stop over. Armidale has the best variety of accommodation including the  iconic Tattersalls Hotel which has recently undergone an extensive refurb and is, quite simply, stunning. The rooms are exquisite and very well priced, as is the restaurant, but, if you are in need of some carb loading, head to Signor Vertelli for the most delicious pizzas and salads this side of Sicily. As an added bonus, the sister store next door sells authentic gelato that must be sampled.

 If you are up to a little more driving, continue south to Willow Tree to The Willow Tree Inn where you can dine in the iconic Graze restaurant and stay in the refurbished pub rooms. While known for it's incredible steaks, anything on the menu is amazing  (kid friendly as well). 

After a solid night's sleep in a comfy bed, grab a coffee and breakfast at the Plains Pantry before getting on the road again. First stop is the quaint little village of Murrurundi, home to some gorgeous gift stores and iconic galleries including the new David Darcy Gallery in Mayne Street.

The remainder of the journey to Sydney is smooth sailing on dual lane highways. However, we recommend getting off the freeway every hour or so to explore the Upper Hunter towns like Scone and Aberdeen. There is also great fun to be had in the Lower Hunter wineries but that is a whole story in itself.

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