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 6,986 (2015 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 Highway's. Tenterfield is a three-hour drive from Brisbane, Queensland, three hours from Byron Bay, New South Wales, two hours from Armidale, New South Wales and eight hours from Sydney. The town is situated on the north-western part of the Northern Tableland plateau, nestled in a valley, astride the Great Dividing Range and beneath the imposing Mount MacKenzie (1,287m elevation). At the 2015 census, Tenterfield had a population of 6,986.[2]

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[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] 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[6] 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.[7]

Federation Speech[edit]

Sir Henry Parkes delivered his Federation Speech in the Tenterfield School of Arts on 24 October 1889.[6] 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.[8]

  • Ayrdrie, Casino Road, country house built circa 1860[9]
  • Tenterfield Post Office, built 1881[10]
  • Court House, Gaol and Police Buildings, Molesworth Street, 1874–1882[11]
  • 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
  • 84 Bulwer Street, believed to be one of the oldest houses in the township


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.[12]


The only commercial radio stations serving Tenterfield are Rebel Media stations, Rebel FM and The Breeze which broadcast into the area from Queensland on local FM transmitters.

Tenterfield-based community radio station Ten FM provides a more local focus, derived in part from the stringent rules controlling community radio stations. The station also broadcasts to Stanthorpe north of the border, on a separate frequency.

ABC New England North West and ABC Radio National broadcast to Tenterfield on local FM repeaters.

100.9 Triple Z FM, based in Goonellabah NSW runs radio advertisements for services that run from the coast to as far inland as Tenterfield and Glen Innes, and can be tuned into from higher elevations in Tenterfield when windy and anywhere in town on windless days.

Tenterfield's local newspaper is The Tenterfield Star, which is a weekly newspaper issued each Wednesday. The newspaper has been published for more than 170 years and was once owned by J. F. Thomas, the solicitor who defended Breaker Morant.

Tenterfield is incorporated into the Lismore television licence area and as such receives regional news bulletins on Prime7 and NBN Television along with brief local news updates on Southern Cross Ten.

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, and Bluff Rock which is located 12 minutes drive south of Tenterfield on the New England Highway.


Tenterfield has a subtropical highland climate, with cold, frosty winters and moderately hot, 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.[13] The town receives light to moderate snowfalls during severe winters, but this only occurs once every 20-30 years, but the town usually experiences occasional sleet most winters. The nearby Mount MacKenzie (1,287m elevation) receives snowfall annually. The town's last snowfall occurred during the harsh winter of 2015. Summers are moderately hot, and the majority of precipitation occurs as thunderstorms, which can be severe. Tenterfield's highest recorded temperature was 39.9 °C, which was recorded on 12 February 2017. Its coldest recorded temperature was -10.6 °C, which was recorded on 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) 114.8
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, [1][13]

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.[12]
  • The Australian showjumping record was broken at Tenterfield in 1926 Mrs AA Laidlaw’s "Lookout", ridden by A McPhee jumped 7’10¼".[4]
  • The world showjumping record was broken at Tenterfield in 1936 by CH Perry’s "Lookout", ridden by W Marton when he jumped 8’3½".[4]
  • Guinness World Record achieved by then local Police Sergeant Troy Grant at the Tenterfield Golf Club in 2004 for the most holes of golf completed in 7 days.[15]


  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference 2015census was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ "2011 Census QuickStats - Tenterfield (Urban Centre)". Bureau of Statistics. March 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2017. 
  3. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 2011-05-26. 
  4. ^ a b c Halliday, Ken, Call of the Highlands, Southern Cross Printery, Toowoomba, 1988.
  5. ^ Readers Digest Guide to Australian Places, Readers Digest, Sydney.
  6. ^ a b New England Regional Tourist Zone Association, New England Holiday, Express Print Armidale.
  7. ^ "No title". Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954). Rockhampton, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 17 March 1886. p. 5. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  8. ^ The Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Company, 1981, pp.2, 246-247.
  9. ^ "Ayrdrie House". NSW Govt Env & Heritage. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "Tenterfield Post Office & Quarters". Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  11. ^ "Court House". 
  12. ^ a b c d Tenterfield & District, Tenterfield & District Visitors Assoc., n.d.
  13. ^ a b "TENTERFIELD (FEDERATION PARK)". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. March 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  14. ^ Kovacic, Leonarda (2004). "Bancroft, Bronwyn (1958 – )". The Australian Women's Register. National Foundation for Australian Women and University of Melbourne. Retrieved 8 October 2009. 
  15. ^ Adams, Matt (10 February 2004). "Rusty putts his way to world record". The Northern Daily Leader. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 


External links[edit]

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towards Wallangarra
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towards Sydney