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Invererll rocks
Inverell’s colourful town centre ... a great place for a stroll PIC: Paul Foley; Destination NSW

Sitting on the Gwydir Highway in inland New South Wales, Inverell is a natural stopping off point for grey nomads exploring the state’s gorgeous New England Region.

As well as boasting fascinating architecture, a rich history, and offering a great opportunity to fossick for gems, the Sapphire City – as it is sometimes known – is surrounded by national parks offering excellent camping. The town of 16,000 or so sits in a valley next to the Macintyre River and the region’s rich agricultural land sees a range of crops – including olives – flourish.

However, it is what is dug from the ground rather than what grows in it that really put Inverell on the map for the early pioneers … and for latter day grey nomads. Diamonds were discovered in the region way back in 1875, and other precious gemstones still mined include sapphires and zircon.

For the weary motorhome or caravan traveller seeking to strike it rich, there are a number of places to try fossicking although, sadly, none come with a guarantee of Big Lap-changing riches. There are a several spots along Frazer Creek about 20 kilometres or so out of town where you are free to dive in and have a go, and at other places you can pay
to receive expert guidance, use equipment, and camp.

Other fossicking areas a little further out include Bukkulla, Staggy Creek, and Wallangra. Like many towns in this area, Inverell is exceptionally attractive and many of its historic town centre buildings have been lovingly restored. A great way to discover this is to take the excellent Heritage Walk past structures including the Town Hall and Court House.

The WWII Remembrance Riverwalk, which wends five kilometres along the Macintyre River before ending at Lake Inverell, is also well worth taking the time to enjoy. Another great way to explore Inverell’s past is to visit the Pioneer Village where the buildings of yesteryear have been re-created and filled with historic collections and memorabilia.

As well as shops, restaurants and caravan parks, Inverell itself also offers some top-class art galleries, a very unique mosaic walk, and most grey nomads consider the National Transport Museum with its 200-plus vehicles a must-see.

The Inverell area also has a number of memorials paying tribute to its fascinating past. These include the Bicentennial Memorial with its three courtyards containing carved mosaics, the Scottish Memorial Cairn which pays tribute to the district’s pioneers, the Kurrajong Memorial which is dedicated to the men who enlisted during World War l, and the Myall Creek Memorial which overlooks the site of a massacre of Aboriginal people.

One of the best ways to get your bearings is to visit Mcllveen Park Lookout just which offers superb views across the town and the entire area. A little further out is Copeton Dam which is a great place to fish and to camp, and the Barayamal National Park adjacent to Lake Inverell, is a walk-in only park much loved by hikers and birdwatchers.

See you there!

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