Located in the beautiful New South Wales Upper Hunter Valley, the town of Scone with its wide tree-lined streets, historic buildings and endless procession of quality festivals and events may well be the very definition of a grey nomad ‘magnet’.
Located some 300 kilometres or so north of Sydney, Scone – which sits some 200 metres above sea level – is known as The Horse Capital of Australia and claims to be the second largest horse breeding area in the world, after only Kentucky in the United States.
The area’s equine heritage is memorably celebrated in the 11-day Scone Horse Festival, which is traditionally held in May. The festival pays homage to all breeds of horses, as well as those who ride them and work with them. Highlights include a parade through the main street, a rodeo, sheep dog trials, yarns night, polo, a farrier’s competition, a two-day race carnival and much, much more.
Other grey nomad friendly events in the area include the Upper Hunter Wine & Food Affair in Denman and the St Heliers Heavy Horse Field Day in Muswellbrook, as well as the Aberdeen Highland Games, and Merriwa Festival of the Fleeces.
But any day is a good day to visit the picturesque Upper Hunter Valley, and perhaps to take a tour of a local horse stud or visit one of the many boutique wineries dotted around the area. Scone, which has a population of some 5,000 or so, was first gazetted in 1837, and notable historic buildings include the old St Aubins Arms Inn (1836); Belmore Hotel (1866); the old railway station (1881); Harper’s Cottage (1870s); the old courthouse (1882); and the St Luke’s Anglican Church (1884). The grave of John Graham who was killed by the gang of bushranger, Edward ‘The Jewboy’ Davis, in 1840 lies in the churchyard, and a plaque in his honour has been mounted on the church wall.
The Scone Museum is housed in the town’s old lock-up which was built in 1870. After catching up on local history, most visitors eventually find their way to nearby Lake Glenbawn Recreation Area, which is a great spot for fishing, swimming, kayaking, and checking out the plentiful wildlife along the foreshores.
On the north east corner of the sprawling lake is Brushy Hill which boasts spectacular views over the water and to Mt Woolooma, the Mount Royal Ranges, Barrington Tops, and the Liverpool Range. There are some excellent waterfront campsites in the recreation area, and also some superb van parks in Scone, and in nearby towns like Murrurundi and Muswellbrook.
There is so much else to explore in the surrounding region including the area around Towarri to the north and the Washpools waterhole and the Burning Mountains Nature Reserve, where there is a 5,500-year-old natural underground fire that is part of the local Aboriginal Dreaming. A viewing platform on the Burning Mountain walk offers a safe place to observe the exhaust vents and heat transformed rocks.