Tenterfield, New South Wales

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New South Wales
Tenterfield (1).JPG
Rouse Street (New England Highway), Tenterfield
Tenterfield is located in New South Wales
Coordinates 29°02′55″S 152°01′04″E / 29.04861°S 152.01778°E / -29.04861; 152.01778Coordinates: 29°02′55″S 152°01′04″E / 29.04861°S 152.01778°E / -29.04861; 152.01778
Population 3,000 (2011 census)[1]
Established 1851
Postcode(s) 2372
Elevation 850 m (2,789 ft)
LGA(s) Tenterfield Shire
County Clive
State electorate(s) Lismore
Federal Division(s) New England
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
21.4 °C
71 °F
8.0 °C
46 °F
852.4 mm
33.6 in

Tenterfield is a town in New South Wales, Australia. It is located in the New England region at the intersection of the New England and Bruxner Highways. Tenterfield is a three-hour drive from Brisbane, 2.5 hours from Byron Bay, two hours from Armidale, New South Wales and 7 hours from Sydney. The town sits in a valley astride the Great Dividing Range. At the 2011 census, Tenterfield had a population of 3,000.[1]

Tenterfield's proximity to many regional centres and its position on the route between Sydney and Brisbane led to its development as a centre for the promotion of the federation of the Australian colonies.


Tenterfield’s first inhabitants were the Jukembal people who travelled the area from near Glen Innes to Stanthorpe, Queensland.

Tenterfield in 1861
Tenterfield Post Office, Rouse Street
Railway Station, now a museum
Granite boulders on Kildare Road, Tenterfield

In 1841, Sir Stuart Donaldson was running 18,000 sheep on a property that he named Tenterfield Station, after a family home in Scotland. Donaldson was the first premier of NSW and made biannual trips to Tenterfield to inspect his holdings there, which covered 100,000 acres (400 km2) of unfenced land. Tenterfield Post Office opened on 1 January 1849[2] and the township was gazetted in 1851 with allotments being sold in 1854. In 1858 gold was discovered at Drake (Fairfield) and shortly afterwards at Timbarra and Boonoo Boonoo.[3] During 1859 an AJS Bank opened and an Anglican church was built the following year. In the 1860s the Tenterfield Chronicle was published, the district court was established; the building of a hospital commenced and a public school was opened. In 1870 the population was less than 900, but the town had five hotels, a school of arts and three churches. The existing Tenterfield Post Office was constructed in 1881.

During World War II, Tenterfield was earmarked as a key battleground if the Japanese should invade Australia. During 1942 thousands of soldiers were set up in emergency camps, unbeknown to the locals, to cope with such an event. Overgrown tank traps and gun emplacements can still be seen on the Travelling Stock Route near the New England Highway.[4] The highway was until the early 1950s the only all-weather road from Sydney to Brisbane.


The railway opened to Tenterfield on 28 October 1884[5] and in 1886 to nearby Wallangarra on the Queensland border, connecting Sydney and Brisbane, with a break-of-gauge at Wallangarra. When the rail link to the Queensland border was completed, Sydney and Brisbane were linked by rail for the first time. The railway was subsequently bypassed by the fully standard gauge North Coast line between Sydney and Brisbane, completed in 1932. The Main North line is now closed north of Armidale and the Tenterfield railway station is now a museum.

Break of Gauge[edit]

There was considerable debate about whether the break of gauge should take place at the existing town of Tenterfield, or at a whole new town at the border at Wallangarra.[6]

Federation Speech[edit]

Sir Henry Parkes delivered his Federation Speech in the Tenterfield School of Arts on 24 October 1889.[5] He was travelling from Brisbane to Sydney, via the new Main North railway. The speech is credited with re-igniting the debate that ultimately led to Federation on 1 January 1901.


The following buildings and sites are listed on the Register of the National Estate.[7]

  • Ayrdrie, Casino Road, country house built circa 1860[8]
  • Tenterfield Post Office, built 1881[9]
  • Court House, Gaol and Police Buildings, Molesworth Street, 1874–1882[10]
  • Tenterfield School of Arts, 203 Rouse Street, 1876
  • Bald Rock National Park, 25 km north of Tenterfield
  • Tooloom Falls Area, south-west of Urbenville
  • Wellington Rock Aboriginal Site, Tenterfield area


The main industries in the Tenterfield district are beef cattle breeding and superfine wool production through the breeding of Merino sheep. There are ten State Forests in the Tenterfield district covering 7540ha.[11]


Rebel FM 93.7 MHz has a new & classic rock music format. The Breeze broadcasts on 102.5 MHz with an easy adult contemporary & classics hits format. They are the only commercial radio stations serving Tenterfield and are part of the Rebel Media group.

The Tenterfield area is served by a community radio station Ten FM. The station has a local focus, derived in part from the stringent rules controlling community radio stations. The station uses Station playlist pro software for studio automation, and runs a strict controlled format.

Tenterfield's local newspaper is The Tenterfield Star. The Tenterfield Star covers community news with a weekly newspaper each Wednesday. The paper has been operating for more than 170 years and was once owned by J. F. Thomas, the solicitor who defended Breaker Morant.

Local geography[edit]

The local geography is dominated by prominent granite inselbergs and mountains, the most famous being that of Bald Rock, which sits within the Bald Rock National Park.


Tenterfield has a subtropical highland climate, with cold, frosty winters and warm, wet summers. It sits at an altitude of 850 metres (2,790 ft) above sea level, meaning temperatures below freezing in winter are common, and Tenterfield averages 47 days where the minimum temperature drops below 0 °C each year.[12] Summers are warm, but rarely hot and most of the rain falls as thunderstorms, which can be severe. Tenterfield's highest recorded temperature was 38.3 °C (100.9 °F) on 8 January 1994. Its coldest recorded temperature was -10.6 °C (12.9 °F) on the 10 July 2006.

Climate data for Tenterfield (Federation Park)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 38.3
Average high °C (°F) 27.1
Average low °C (°F) 14.4
Record low °C (°F) 4.5
Average rainfall mm (inches) 115.7
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2mm) 10.5 9.9 9.7 7.1 7.4 7.6 7.3 6.5 6.4 8.1 8.7 9.9 99.1
Source: Bureau of Meteorology[12]

Notable residents[edit]

The "Tenterfield Saddlery" made famous by Peter Allen

Sporting records[edit]

  • The first campdraft ever held (to rules) was held in Tenterfield in c.1885.[11]
  • The Australian showjumping record was broken at Tenterfield in 1926 Mrs AA Laidlaw’s "Lookout", ridden by A McPhee jumped 7’10¼".[3]
  • The world showjumping record was broken at Tenterfield in 1936 by CH Perry’s "Lookout", ridden by W Marton when he jumped 8’3½".[3]


  1. ^ a b "2011 Census QuickStats - Tenterfield (Urban Centre)". Bureau of Statistics. March 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 2011-05-26. 
  3. ^ a b c Halliday, Ken, Call of the Highlands, Southern Cross Printery, Toowoomba, 1988.
  4. ^ Readers Digest Guide to Australian Places, Readers Digest, Sydney.
  5. ^ a b New England Regional Tourist Zone Association, New England Holiday, Express Print Armidale.
  6. ^ "No title.". Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954). Rockhampton, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 17 March 1886. p. 5. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  7. ^ The Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Company, 1981, pp.2, 246-247.
  8. ^ "Ayrdrie House". NSW Govt Env & Heritage. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "Tenterfield Post Office & Quarters". Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "Court House". 
  11. ^ a b c d Tenterfield & District, Tenterfield & District Visitors Assoc., n.d.
  12. ^ a b "TENTERFIELD (FEDERATION PARK)". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. April 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  13. ^ Kovacic, Leonarda (2004). "Bancroft, Bronwyn (1958 – )". The Australian Women's Register. National Foundation for Australian Women and University of Melbourne. Retrieved 8 October 2009. 


External links[edit]

Preceding station   NSW Main lines   Following station
towards Wallangarra
Main North Line
(closed section)
towards Sydney