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Sydney to Brisbane road trip: The New England highway way

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If you immediately think of the Pacific Highway when you hear someone’s doing a Sydney to Brisbane road trip you’re not alone. But while that coastal route has a whole lot of memories for a lot of people, for me it’s all about going the other way.

The New England Highway is the quieter, inland route that takes you up over the Great Dividing Range, and through some spectacular scenery and great country towns and villages along the way.

Some of my earliest memories involve the drive from Glen Innes in the northern tablelands down to Newcastle for family holidays. Over the years I’ve seen new stretches of road put in place that bypass the towns, which is great when you’re in a hurry or a truck driver, but also means a lot of people are blinking and missing some places that are worth exploring.

When I was asked if I wanted to take a Nissan X-Trail e-POWER on a road trip somewhere I immediately said yes, and decided to take my time revisiting this road that I know so well.

For the car lovers out there, this X Trail is a series hybrid rather than a conventional parallel one, which means only the electric motor drives the car so it feels like an EV, but you still fuel up with petrol rather than needing to recharge the battery.

While you can drive it like a normal car, I was soon switching over to the e-Pedal which is when you only use one pedal to accelerate and decelerate, and it helps to recharge the battery when you’re slowing down. E-Pedal mode was fun and when I switched on Eco Mode too I was able to road trip for 4.9 litres per 100 km. To find out how much road tripping from Sydney to Brisbane in an electric vehicle can be you can read more about the cost of EV charging stations here.

Stopping for a visit at the Red Lion Tavern at Glencoe

The Nissan X-Trail e-POWER was a winner in the 2023 Good Design Awards and after spending some time behind that wheel I’m not surprised. There are all sorts of great touches including the super wide back door access at an almost 90 degree angle, the wireless phone charger and floating storage system between the front seats so you can fit your handbag under the central console as well as having lots of space to keep things beside you.

I had a lot of fun travelling from Sydney to Brisbane finding some great new places to eat, shop and stay.

If you really needed to motor you could do a Sydney to Brisbane road trip along the New England highway in one long day. The drive takes around 11 ½ hours and you’d get to see the scenery but not much else.

I highly recommend making the road trip a holiday in itself, so am including some pretty special places to stay along the way.

There’s a lot to share in this story, so if you’d like to jump ahead to one section of the road trip just click below:

Sydney to Scone – 282kms

Our journey starts out the same way as that better-known drive to Brissie, heading up the M1. But then just before you get to Newcastle it’s time to go slip off to the west and join the New England Highway through the Hunter Valley.

As freeway speeds start to give way to highway roads the countryside starts to change as you leave the coast behind.


A slight detour off the highway will lead you to the Hunter Valley Gardens where you can wander through 14 hectares of gardens waterfalls, statues, murals and more.

You could walk all eight kilometres of pathways, or choose your favourites out of the ten themed gardens, including the Rose Garden,which has more than 150 different varieties of rose represented in 35,000 rose bushes, and the Storybook Garden where you can take photos with Alice in Wonderland and nursery rhyme characters.

Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin, image Destination NSW
Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin, image Destination NSW

Float above the vineyards in a hot air balloon or twist and turn through the air on an aerobatic warbird flight. Back on solid ground you can keep the adrenaline pumping as you do Hot Laps in turbo charged rally cars, or saddle up to ride horses through the vineyards and bushland.

Read: 11 weekend getaways Sydney locals love 

And speaking of horses, make sure you don’t skip around Scone on the highway bypass. Take the exit and go into Australia’s horse capital where you can take a happy snap with the Mare and Foal sculpture, before going into the Information Centre to see Big Blue by Nick Adams, another horse sculpture, this time made entirely of blue baling twine.

Horse and foal statue, Scone


When you’re travelling through one of Australia’s best wine regions, it would be a shame not to slow down and visit a cellar door or two.

With more than 150 wineries and cellar doors you’re spoilt for choice. The 2023 Hunter Valley Cellar Door of the Year, Winmark Wines offers chardonnay tastings along with a chance to explore their impressive sculpture park and art gallery. In the original Pokolbin Church you can try Usher Tinkler’s unique mix, while Lisa McGuigan’s VAMP Wine Rooms are a sexy blend of fashion, art, music and wine where you can both taste her own creations and some of her favourite drops from around the world.

When it’s time to eat, if you’ve left the highway to explore wine country, Leaves and Fishes is relaxed dining with a focus on seafood, and you can also spend the night in one of their four rooms in The Boathouses.

Read: Macmasters Beach, the Central Coast gem you need to know

If you’re not ready to take a detour yet, don’t worry. One of my favourite spots to stop for brunch or lunch is right there on the New England Highway, at Worn Out Wares in Singleton.

A gorgeous gift shop, florist and café in one, Worn Out Wares uses local fruit, veggies and dairy, and there are lots of gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options. I love to grab a table in the florist section where the smell of all those flowers is just divine.

If you’re more in the mood for pub grub, The Royal Hotel Motel across the road has some great $15 lunch specials including huge Thai beef salads and a good bangers and mash, all with a house beer, wine or soft drink included.

There’s also no need to leave the highway for a cheese lovers treat in Muswellbrook. At Hunter Belle Cheese you can see their brown Swiss cows and learn about the dairy industry as you look through windows into the factory. And as well as a long list of cheese to try there’s a licensed café for breakfast and lunch.

Read: The most amazing themed hotel rooms in the world

And in Australia’s horse capital of Scone an old pub from the 1800s has been reborn as The Thoroughbred, with a gourmet bakery, café and steakhouse with rooms to stay upstairs. While I’ve yet to try the steak or spend the night, I’ve enjoyed a few of their cakes on coffee stops along the New England highway.

The Thoroughbred Scone is worth a stop on a Sydney to Brisbane road trip


I’ve already mentioned Worn Out Wares in Singleton which is full of gorgeous treats to buy for yourself or a gift, and just a few doors up is a charity shop that’s worth a visit as well.

Dolly’s is named after the 1920s mannequin who sits outside the store, and all of the money that’s raised in the store goes back into the community. When I last visited I spotted a pair of True Religion jeans for $10, that sadly weren’t my size, but I did buy a couple of lovely, brand new jumpers that I’ve loved wearing since.

Read: How to road trip your way to all of the NSW silo art

Meanwhile in Muswellbrook, Finders Keepers in is a mix of clothing, gifts and fabrics with a focus on quality products that will last.


If you’re ready to settle down for the night in the Hunter Valley treat yourself to a special vineyard stay at Winmark Wines. There are a range of ways to stay at Winmark including the four bedroom guesthouse The Residence complete with a two-way sandstone fireplace and swimming pool, and the tiny chapel Villa Vino.

When I stayed at Winmark earlier this year I loved strolling through the sculpture park and sipping great wine as I looked out over the vines.

If you prefer a resort style stay, the VocoKirkton Park is an elegant and modern estate with an indoor pool, spa and sauna. 

For a historic farm sleepover, Corunna Station was once the largest sheep shearing station in the Hunter, and the Country House has five bedrooms and three bathrooms to share with friends.

Corunna Station Country House Hunter Valley

Just off the highway a few kilometres before you drive into Scone, Strathearn Park Lodge is a purpose built luxury Bed and Breakfast where every room has a large spa bath. On a recent stay I loved getting cosy in front of the open fire and taking a morning stroll in the garden before breakfast.

Meanwhile in Scone, the Russley Rural Retreat B&B has five colourful bedrooms each with their own personality, in a homestead with wrap around verandas, polished floors and high ceilings, with homemade jams, cakes and biscuits to enjoy in the kitchen.

You can either book a single room at Russley or if you’re travelling with friends and want to splash out on private home that sleeps up to ten, you can also book the entire house.

Scone to Tamworth – 132km

As you continue your Sydney to Brisbane road trip along the New England highway you’ll travel through farmland where racehorses graze behind timber fences before making your way up over the Liverpool Range and onto the Liverpool Plains.


Around 20 minutes drive up the highway from Scone you’ll see a sign for Burning Mountain, which isn’t a reference to a mountain that burned long ago, but one that continues to burn. Underground.

On the Burning Mountain walk you can learn about the fire that’s been burning in a coal seam underground for at least 5,500 years, and see how the landscape changes as the fire slowly moves at a rate of about one metre a year.

Read: Seven great Aussie road trips

At Wallabadah the First and Second Fleet Memorial Gardens has eleven garden beds representing the First Fleet ships, with the names of everyone who sailed on them inscribed on stone tablets, and another two gardens for the Second Fleet.

See the First and Second Fleet Memorial Gardens, Wallabadah, on Sydney to Brisbane road trip

Stone mason and history lover Ray Collins was inspired to create the garden when he discovered he was the descendant of a First Fleet convict and approached ten councils before Liverpool Plains saw the potential in the plan.

Take a short detour to Quirindi to see some NSW silo art. This small country town has something no other silo art stop has – a light show that’s projected onto the silos at night. I share more about that one including a video, in this story about how to see all of the NSW silo art on a road trip.

Read: Gorgeous dog friendly cottages in the Cotswolds

In Tamworth the Big Golden Guitar has been a popular happy snap spot for years, and as of January 2020 has a new museum to explore too. Along with the Gallery of the Stars Wax Museum where you can see Smoky Dawson, Slim Dusty and friends, there’s now a rather impressive guitar museum.

The guitar museum already has quite a collection with more than 45 guitars including Tommy Emmanuel’s first Maton guitar, Brian May’s travelling guitar, and signed guitars from Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Keith Urban, The Eagles and KISS’ Paul Stanley. 


If you love a good steak the first thing you need to do when planning this road trip is to book a table at Graze at the Willow Tree Inn. And stay the night too if you can (more on that coming up).

Only the best Black Angus steers from the Colly Creek Pastoral Company up the road are selected for the restaurant, which not only has its own dry aging room where the meat is aged for anywhere between 30 days and three months, they have their own in-house butcher. Not to mention a Michelin starred chef since Ben Davies joined the team earlier this year.

Graze Restaurant at Willow Tree Inn

When I stayed I met a couple that had driven more than 600km just to have the steak and wrote about it in Escape, and now that I know how good it is I’m adding a stop whenever I can when I’m road tripping along that highway.

The top shelf steaks continue in Tamworth at The Workshop Kitchen where they cook local Jack’s Creek Beef, which has taken out some ‘World’s Best Steak’ awards over the years, over a wood fired grill. Be sure to allow time for a before or after dinner drink in the beautiful Coal Bunker Bar where the options include signature cocktails and vintage champagne.

Read: The best time to see Field of Light at Uluru

Pubs along the way include Tamworth’s the Courthouse Hotel with pub classics and some modern Aussie dining twists, with most of their produce coming from local producers. Or if time allows, take a side trip out to the gold mining village of Nundle for a meal at the Peel Inn. This family owned and operated country pub has a great beer garden where you can enjoy some good pub grub before a spot of shopping in the Nundle Woollen Mill and the beautifully curated Odgers and McClelland Exchange Stores.

Back in Tamworth, coffee lovers should make a beeline for Camp Grounds. Here the main espresso blend is roasted by Floozy, who support female coffee producers and only use traceable, high quality beans. And if you can’t decide which coffee to go for, you can opt for a coffee flight instead.

And gin lovers can enjoy trying new tipples at Magpie Distilling in Murrurundi including their Songbird Gin with notes of pomegranate and cinnamon, and Blackbird Coffee Liqueur.


Burning Mountain Antiques at Wingen looks pretty big from the outside, and then you step through the front door and realise you could get lost in here for a while. There are all sorts of antiques including crockery, Sterling Silver flatware, jewellery, crystal perfume bottles and character teapots, and the furniture department ranges from antique colonial to their own recycled timber furniture.

Up the road in the eclectic artisan village of Murrurundi you can walk through a lush garden to find contemporary Australian art and a selection of hand-made Australian designer items in the Concept Store at Michael Reid Murrurundi and shop for a mix of new and old clothing, jewellery and gifts including some gorgeous hand-knitted toys made by rural women in Kenya at Adawn.

Murrurundi town sign on a Sydney to Brisbane road trip

In Tamworth Bungalow G is a gorgeous homewares and lifestyle store in a beautiful old vestry. As well as selling what they have in store they provide a sourcing service to help you exactly what you’re looking for.

The Magic Pudding has a tempting mix of clothes, accessories and homewares, The Lemon House is a lovely little gift shop, while Dekora has some affordable and fun clothes for women.


Remember how I said the steaks at the Willow Tree Inn are a special thing? Well I’m here to tell you, so are the beds.

When I first walked into my room I fell in love with the look of the bed. And when I got in I knew it was going to be a very hard one to get out of in the morning.

Willow Tree Inn bed

The next day I met the Willow Tree Inn owner Charles Hanna and told him how I loved the way things in my room didn’t just look good, they felt good, with special mention to the bed.

And that’s when he told me they’re the same beds he used to love sleeping on in a little hotel called the Beverly Wilshire on Rodeo Drive. Yes, the one from Pretty Woman.

When he decided to open his own hotel he checked the name on the mattress, called the company, and became one of the first in Australia to have those same beds for his guests.

Another one of my favourite places to stay on the New England Highway is just up the road at Goonoo Goonoo Station, the 19th century heritage listed pastoral village that has been turned into luxury accommodation outside of Tamworth.

I’ve stayed in the Shearer’s Quarters at Goonoo Goonoo station a couple of times and as well as feeling really special when they have special offers it can be a more affordable option than some of the more basic motels in the area. Or if you’re travelling with friends you can also stay in one of the cottages or in the beautiful Homestead Building that sleeps up to ten and has a private courtyard and pool, as well as a billiard room to play pools in over a few drinks.

Meanwhile on Goonoo Goonoo road, the hidden gem of Studio 367 offers two architecturally designed boutique studios that open out onto gardens on a two-acre property.

Tamworth to Armidale – 113km

As we leave Australia’s country music capital behind you’ll see some mountains in the distance. Mountains you’ll soon be weaving your way up as you start to explore the northern tablelands.

The Moonbi Range rises from around 500 to 1,300m above sea level, and if you get stuck behind a truck just think that this is one to drive up slowly and enjoy the view and those huge boulders on the side of the road.


Up here on the tablelands you feel the four distinct seasons all the better, and in autumn those colours are so pretty there’s an Autumn Festival and Twilight Markets in Armidale in April.

The Gostwyck Chapel, 11km east of Uralla is one of the prettiest spots to visit when those autumn colours are out.

Gostwyck Chapel, Uralla in Autumn, image Armidale Visitor Information

Uralla is also where you can see the grave of the ‘gentleman bushranger’ Thunderbolt. I’m not sure how he’d feel about ending up behind a white picket fence, but that’s where you’ll find him in the local cemetery.

Read: Green and gorgeous – Australia’s best sustainable Airbnbs

A half hour drive out of Armidale will lead you to the Wollomombi Falls, which at more than 220m are the highest in NSW. And if you love waterfalls, I’ve created another road trip guide for the Waterfall Way for Visit NSW. That’s another one of my all time favourite drives, but for now, back to our Sydney to Brisbane road trip fun.

Standing on a platform on the edge of a cliff looking out over one of Australia’s biggest gorge systems feels pretty amazing. To take it up to a whole other level you can take a doors on or doors off helicopter over the gorges with Fleet Adventures.

Open door helicopter in front of Dangars Falls, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, image Fleet Helicopters

On my adrenalin pumping doors off flight I was blown away by the dramatic beauty of the gorges and the waterfalls, and looked down at brumbies, eagles, and a big beautiful heart shaped island created by two rivers in the valley below.

Back on solid ground, the 30 room Edwardian mansion, Saumarez Homestead dates back to 1888 and has a heritage rose garden with more than 600 roses that were mostly bred before 1930.

And the New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM), is home to one of the most impressive art collections in Australia. The Hinton Art Collection includes works by Arthur Streeton, Margaret Preston, Norman Lindsay and other Australian greats, with 132 pieces on permanent display.


If you’re a craft beer lover your first stop should be in Uralla where the Old Woolstore has been turned into the New England Brewing Company. Here they have year round ales, lagers and a hop cannon IPA to try, and this year’s seasonal brews included a Pecan Milk Coffee Stout.

Then when you reach Armidale it’s off to the Welder’s Dog where the beer tasting paddle options also include a ginger beer and a pretty pink pea-blossom lemonade.

Just off the New England Highway in the tiny village of Kentucky you’ll find some of the best gin produced anywhere in the world at Dobson’s Distillery.

That’s not my opinion, that’s according to the judges at San Francisco Spirits World Cup who awarded Dobson’s New England Dry Gin a double gold, as well as giving his Le Caf liqueur a silver medal and the Belle Epoque Single Malt Whiskey the bronze. Decide on your designated driver before you pull up a seat at his ‘steampunk with a prohibition vibe’ micro distillery to sample his wares.

If you’re like me and love a good cup of tea, Daily Ritual in Armidaleis a must. There are over 200 leaf teas including the New England Breakfast that won the bronze in the 2017 International Tea Expo, while their Saumarez Smooth green tea with lime petals and lemongrass is among their other award winning blends.

The Whitebull Hotel is my go-to for a great pub meal in Armidale, while if you’re in more of a fine dining mood the Tattersalls Hotel’s restaurant is led by French chef Jean-Luc Morcellet who previously worked at The Savoy in London and the Shangri-La in Doha.

Charlie’s Last Stand is the place to be for seasonal or classic cocktails with live music, while breakfast, lunch and dinner are all winners at the Goldfish Bowl Bakery where the exposed brick wood fired oven keeps the organic sourdough coming.


The New England highway goes straight through the main street of Uralla so you just need to slow down and find a park to explore the shops in this small town.

Highland Living is a lovely homewares and accessories store that has pure merino clothing made from Uralla wool alongside handbags from Italy.

Just off the main shopping street on Hill Street, Little Birdy is a treasure trove of antiques, collectables and handmade local products, with more than 30 small businesses together in an old aircraft hangar.

In Armidale, The New England Collective is one of my favourite places to find locally made gifts and treats.

And just across the Beardy Street Mall is a magical little shop called Granny Fi’s Toy Cupboard where they hand make dragons, goblins, mandrakes, house elves, and more. As well as being a must for Harry Potter fans it also has a great Dr Who collection and if you can’t make it there in person they also sell online.


I recently got to take a peek inside Armidale’s Tattersalls Hotel and am now planning a staycation just so I can spend the night there.

After a $24 million refurbishment the Tattersalls Hotel is now Art Deco luxury right in the heart of town.

Tattersalls Hotel Armidale Guest Lounge, image Tattersalls Hotel

And for a special B&B stay, I loved spending the night at Loloma Luxury Bed and Breakfast. This 19th century home has two suites, a tennis court and pool and a lovely light and bright breakfast area to start your day in.

Armidale to Tenterfield – 187km

Remember how I mentioned I’d seen a lot of Sydney to Brisbane road trip changes over the years? On this stretch you’ll drive over one of them, a 320m cantilever bridge that’s part of the $133 million Bolivia Hill upgrade.

It was a lot of fun to watch this one being built as we drove down the old, windy road and now you can save time and your brakes, as well as getting some pretty great views as you drive down the new section of the highway.


Take a break in one of the highest towns in Australia. Home of the Australian Poetry Hall of Fame, Guyra has some sweet shops to explore and car lovers can see a 1960 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II along with some classic Fords, Holdens and more at Burgess Garage car museum.

The Celtic Capital of Australia, Glen Innes is home to Australia’s Standing Stones, which were inspired by the Ring of Brodgar in Scotland’s Orkney Islands and when viewed from above also includes the Celtic Cross and the Southern Cross.

Australian Standing Stones, Glen Innes, image Destination NSW
Australian Standing Stones, Glen Innes, image Destination NSW

The 24 stones have been laid out as a calendar and there’s marker on the ground that shows the length of the shadow on the shortest and longest days of the year, the winter and summer solstice, when dawn services are held at the stones.

If you’re in Glen Innes on a Friday you’ll also be able to hear the sounds of bagpipes filling the main street at midday as a piper stands in front of the Town Hall where all the Celtic flags proudly fly alongside the Australian and Aboriginal flags.

This corner of Australia is one of the best for finding royal blue sapphires, emeralds, aquamarines, citrine, topaz and a whole lot more. In NSW anyone can fossick without a license and if you pop into the Glen Innes Tourist Information Centre they can share some of the best places to try your luck and rent out a fossicking sieve to help you on your way.

If you like looking at crystals and other pretty rocks add a side trip to the village of Emmaville to your itinerary. The Emmaville mining museum has more than 4,000 gem and mineral specimens to admire, and a pretty impressive old bottle collection too.

In Tenterfield Peter Allen fans can visit the one and only Tenterfield Saddler. The late George Woolnough’s building is now part museum, part gift shop and a whole lot of memories.

The 20-inch thick granite walls now hold an autographed copy of the record that made it famous, and the rooms hold a mix of leatherwork and Peter Allen memorabilia, including his bright red size 14 tap shoes. 

The Tenterfield Railway Museum is another top thing to do in Tenterfield, with an impressive collection of trains and memorabilia in the beautiful old station that dates back to 1886.

And just 20 minutes outside of Tenterfield you can climb the largest granite monolith in the Southern Hemisphere.

View from above Bald Rock National Park

Bald Rock is 750m long, 500m wide and rises around 200m above the ground (that’s 1277m above sea level). There’s an easy and a hard way to go, and even if you want to go hard, make sure to take the easy way at least one of the ways so you can walk through giant boulders and see another side of the Bald Rock National Park.


As a Glen Innes local I can confirm that The Local Glen Innes is a great spot to dine on food created with locally grown ingredients. For a delicious pub meal you can’t go past the Railway Tavern in Glen Innes, and if you’re craving a great Thai fix Yim Thai at the New England Club is the place to be.

A bit of a detour off the highway will take you to the village of Torrington where 2WildSouls are turning honey from native trees and spring water filtered through granite into five varieties of sparkling mead. Their cellar door is by appointment only, but you can also pick up their sparkling mead in local bottle shops.


At The Makers Shed in Glen Innes you can find handmade creations from silversmith Richard Moon, can speak to him about having a bespoke piece created, or join one of his silversmithing workshops and learn how to make your own.

Along with Richard’s creations the Makers Shed is full of handmade local products and local art, and there’s a bookshop section stocking indie books from around the world, including works by Richard’s partner Michael Burge. Every spring The Makers Shed hosts the High Country Writers Festival, with next year’s event to take place on the 16th of October 2021.

Down the other end of Grey Street in Glen Innes, The Sage and Clover is a store full of lovingly curated organic, local, chemical free and ethical products.

Tenterfield has some beautiful shops to explore including Ruben and Flax and The Corner Life & Style Store which you can easily find as you walk the main street.

But what you might not realise is if you go inside the Mitre 10 and up the stairs you’ll find Make It Tenterfield, a not for profit Maker’s space where a wonderful mix of handcrafted items from eco-dyed fashions and ceramics to art dolls can be found.

And if you love antiques and flowers you can’t miss one of Tenterfield’s gems. White Cottage has a beautiful English style garden and a glasshouse filled with flowers and antiques. 


At Waterloo Station outside Glen Innes there are a number of beautiful ways to stay including their homestead itself and the renovated Shearers Lodge which now comes with a modern kitchen and a huge stone fireplace. It also happens to be the site of an old sapphire mine, and you can take the fossicking equipment that’s provided down to the creek for some finders keepers fun.

In Tenterfield the Old Council Chambers has transformed one of Tenterfield’s most historic buildings into two self-contained luxury suites. I’ve had a lot of baths around the world but I’ve never stepped through a huge strongroom door before I slipped into the tub and this bath is definitely one of my all time greats.

The Old Council Chambers bath, Tenterfield

The Commercial Boutique Hotel is a gorgeous art deco getaway in an historic pub. When the current owners renovated the hotel they turned the existing 18 rooms into just eight luxury rooms and gave the wine bar and restaurant a beautiful makeover too.

And for a special B&B stay, the Bungalow and Ivy Leaf Chapel is a beautiful 1915 home with one and a half acres of stunning gardens, including its very own chapel covered in Boston Ivy.

Tenterfield to Brisbane – 276km

The final stretch of your New England highway road trip to Brisbane starts with a border crossing where you can stop for a happy snap with the Queenslander sign and if you’re travelling in daylight savings times, get a bonus hour in your day as your clocks turn back.

While the New England Highway turns off towards Toowoomba rather than going all the way to Brisbane, it gets you most of the way and there are some great things to see on the Queensland stretch.


Street art fans should skip the Stanthorpe bypass and head into town to see the impressive murals and sculptures around the town’s CBD. Highlights include Guido Van Helten’s portrait of Angelo Valiante, who turned 100 the month the mural was completed and was one of the first Italians to settle in the area. Download a Stanthorpe Street Art map here to find them all.

Go hiking in the Girraween National Park to see some of the granite belt’s most beautiful granite formations. And keep those hiking boots handy when you get to Cunningham Gap section of the Main Range National Park. It’s a whole lot of hiking uphill to get to the top of Bare Rock but the sweeping views from 1168m above sea level are worth it.

If you’re driving through Warwick in July be sure to allow time to enjoy the Jumpers and Jazz festival where the town gets yarnbombed in a very fun way. It’s also worth setting your GPS for the village of Freestone, which is a cheeky New England Highway shortcut and where you can see more yarnbomb creations.

Just outside of Warwick you can visit the heritage listed Mary Poppins House, the former home of Mary Poppins author PL Travers. Guided tours are by appointment only so book ahead for this one. For more stepping back in time the Glengallen Homestead is a sandstone mansion that dates back to 1867 and is open from 10am to 4pm Wednesday to Sunday. 


In Stanthorpe your brunch and lunch standouts are the pretty in pink Brinx Deli and Café on the main street and the lovely Little Larder on Railway Street.

Be sure to save room for a sweet treat from Zest Pastries where the owner Stephen Lambert sometimes shares the skills he was taught by a Swiss pastry chef in cooking classes. 

You’ll spot lots of apple orchards in the granite belt and at Suttons Juice Factory and Cidery you can, no, must, try one of their Sutton Apple Pies with apple cider icecream.

Wine lovers will want to spend some Granite Belt wine tasting time in Australia’s highest wine region. There are more than 40 cellar doors to visit including Queensland’s oldest family owned wine winery, Ballandean Estate, and the Balancing Heart Vineyard where you can see their balancing heart rocks and, if you book ahead, enjoy wine and wood-fired pizzas at sunset.


Watch raw natural materials being turned into eco conscious products for your body and home at the Washpool Supply Co in Stanthorpe. There’s a product testing station to try the products made with natural clays, botanical butters and essential oils including handmade soaps and body scrubs.

Discover more locally made products at the Eclectic Pallet where Paperbark Love products are stocked. Made outside of Stanthorpe by proud Kungarakan (NT Finniss River) woman Amanda Watts Paperbark Love’s home and body products include hair butters and lemon myrtle reed diffusers.

As well as handcrafted saddles, you can pick up handmade Australian leather bags along with Leatherman tools and other gifts at the Kent Saddlery, which is to the north of Stanthorpe right on the New England highway.

Up the road in Applethorpe, the Granite Belt Christmas Farm is serving Christmas fun year round, as well as delicious Belgian hot chocolates or coffee to have with your rockyroads and cakes. The kids can also enjoy feeding Santa’s animals including reindeer and donkeys.

Meanwhile in Warwick you can find a great selection of gifts as well as furniture and clothing at Galleria Interiors as well as enjoying a cuppa and a bite to eat in their Little Gallery Café.


Just outside of Stanthorpe the Strawhouse B&B has cute cottages made out of straw bales and stucco, a tiny house and a large studio to sleep in. You also have a chance to hand feed their gorgeous highland cows and meet the alpacas, goats and other friends on the farm.

If you’re more interested in waking up with the wallabies and kangaroos the Girraween Environmental Lodge is for you. Set on four hundred acres of natural bushland and surrounded by the Girraween National Park these spacious bush chalets can sleep up to six guests.

Further up the road in Warwick the adults only Abbey Boutique Hotel is set in a heritage-listed gothic Victorian style building that dates back to 1891. Rooms range from the original sized nuns’ cell rooms, up to the luxury rooms which can come with stain glass windows and private verandas and baths.

And for a luxury stay, treat yourself to a night or two at Spicers Peak Lodge. I was lucky to spend two nights at the lodge at the end of our Spicers Scenic Rim Trail hike and as well as the luxury of the lodge itself I loved going on a Can-Am adventure to see the best views (you can also walk to see them, but I’d just hiked 88km so went the easy way) as well as visiting the Tardis on the hill.

And with that we wrap up our Sydney to Brisbane New England highway road trip itinerary tips. As a local I’ve been lucky to do this trip many times in both my own car and behind the wheel as I tried out some new cars as well. If you’re travelling to NSW there are some great car hire options out there, including under 21 car hire in Sydney so you can enjoy everything this road trip has to offer even if you are a young driver.

I always love to find new spots along the way so if you have a favourite spot to eat, shop and stay on the New England highway drop me a line so I can check them out the next time I drive up and down this beautiful Aussie road.  

Nissan X Trail ePOWER at the Australian Standing Stones in Glen Innes
Nissan X Trail ePOWER at the Australian Standing Stones in Glen Innes

Thank you Nissan Australia for getting me back out on a favourite road in X-Trail e-POWER style.

And thank you to Destination NSW for the use of some images, including the one driving through the poplar trees at the top of this story. A gorgeous capture of one of my favourite parts of the highway.

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