Halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, the New England town of Uralla has lots of country charms to share in its wide and welcoming streets.
The New England Highway may run through the heart of town, but time seems to slow down when you park your car and walk along Uralla’s main street.
Here you can explore heritage buildings filled with well-curated shops, art galleries, a craft brewery and more, while just off the highway an old aeroplane hangar holds an eclectic mix of businesses.
See Aboriginal rock art, learn about Uralla’s gold rush and bushranging days, stand at the top of a huge waterfall and keep an eye out for fairy houses on your stay in this charming New England town.
When to visit Uralla
Summer in Uralla is relatively mild with average high temperatures of 27°C, providing an escape from the heat and humidity.
Autumn brings changing colours, cooler times and the Seasons of New England festival.
Pack your winter woollies for a mid-year stay, when the overnight temperatures are around freezing and average top temperatures only reach 13°C (all the better for gathering around the fireplace in the pub).
A car driving through the New England countryside in Uralla. (Image: Destination NSW)
Spring brings new life and brightly coloured flowers out in the streets and parklands. It’s also when Thunderbolts Festival – an extravaganza of markets, a parade and carnival fun for families – is held at Alma Park.
How to get to Uralla
When driving, Uralla is around five and a half hours and 450 kilometres from Sydney, and just under five hours and 484 kilometres from Brisbane, making it roughly halfway between the two capital cities.
It takes 20 minutes to drive from Armidale to Uralla, and Armidale airport is even closer; after landing on a Qantas or Rex flight it’s only a 12-minute drive to Uralla.
You can also sit back and watch the scenery go by on the train. It takes a little less than eight hours to travel from Sydney’s Central Station to Uralla’s heritage-listed railway station.
Forget chain hotels – in Uralla, you can pull into a classic Australian motel or find a cute cottage for the night.
Bushranger Motor Inn
The four-star Bushranger Motor Inn sits in the heart of town and offers spacious rooms, including interconnecting and family options, a disabled access room and a spa suite. Not only do they offer breakfast, they’ll even deliver it to your room.
Have breakfast delivered right to your door.
It may be an older-style country motel, but with its competitive rates and clean rooms, the Altona Motel knows how to welcome back repeat customers. All 16 rooms come with a kettle, toaster and electric blankets, while the super and deluxe family rooms also have microwaves.
Make the most of competitive rates and clean rooms at the Altona Motel.
Kings Cottage Uralla
This lovingly restored 1886 cottage combines heritage charm with modern conveniences. As well as having period fireplaces in both bedrooms, Kings Cottage Uralla also features a fireplace in the bathroom so you can watch the flames from your freestanding tub.
On the edge of town with countryside views, Aurelia’s Farm is a fully self-contained two-bedroom cottage with a large dining and lounge area, soft comfortable beds and a spa bath.
Breakfast provisions include homemade banana bread, the owner’s homemade toasted muesli, fresh bread, yoghurt, kombucha, tea and freshly ground locally roasted coffee.
Feel the peace of sweeping farm views from your Aurelia’s Farm cottage.
Uralla Caravan Park
On the same grounds as Alma Park and its well-appointed playground, the Queen Street Uralla Caravan Park offers drive-through powered sites, clean amenities, a new camp kitchen, a fire pit, barbecue and picnic facilities.
As it’s off the highway it’s nice and quiet, but it’s still within easy walking distance of the town’s shops and museums.
Uralla cafes and restaurants
While you can find some quick bites in town, it’s much better to slow down and take in your surroundings while enjoying the delicious food in Uralla’s cafes, bars and restaurants.
The Alternate Root
In the old Trickett’s General Store building, built circa 1910, The Alternate Root is a cafe seven days a week, and on Fridays and Saturdays it’s also a restaurant and bar at night.
On reclaimed timber tables under pressed metal ceilings, guests can dine on cafe staples and more unusual finds, including chicken shawarma platters and vegan burgers by day, and pork belly lollipops and swordfish at night.
Enjoy cafe staples and unique culinary delights at The Alternate Root. (Image: Destination NSW)
African spiced lamb back straps, fig and brie roasted chicken and Thai salads join the pub classics on the menu at Top Pub. Get a seat beside the fire on those cold Uralla days, or grab a table next to the colourful murals in the beer garden in the warmer months.
Top Pub is also home to Willmont Restaurant, where degustation dinners and high teas are available for groups of 15 people or more.
New England Brewing Co.
Housed in an old service station and wool store building, the New England Brewing Co. operates a craft brewery and canning line right behind the bar, so you can take a brewery tour without leaving your bar stool.
Go for the tasting paddle option to try a mix of their classics and more unusual brews, which have included Imperial Chai Brown, Pecan Milk Coffee Stout and Pineapple Slices IPA. Beer snacks including cheese, cold meats, crackling and pickles are also available.
Taste a bit of everything aith a New England Brewing Co. tasting paddle. (Image: Destination NSW)
Some of the world’s best gins are being created in the village of Kentucky, just a 12-minute drive from Uralla.
Pull up a seat in Dobson’s Distillery’s speakeasy-style bar and chat to owner Stephen Dobson about his award-winning gins, whiskeys and vodkas, including the New England Dry Gin that won double gold medals at the San Francisco Spirits World Cup.
Tastings are available seven days a week, and on the weekends lunch is also served. Bookings are essential for food.
Things to do in Uralla
Step back in time, out in nature and into an unusual store on a day out in Uralla.
Seasons of New England
From the moment the first Seasons of New England Expo was held in Uralla in 2014 it quickly became one of the region’s most popular events.
Thanks to the careful vetting of stallholders you’ll be meeting local makers and creators from the New England region, as well as sipping on local drinks in the bar as you listen to local musicians.
If you miss the festival you can buy handcrafted New England products in the Seasons Store on Bridge Street year-round.
Marvel at the locally crafted goods on offer at Seasons Of New England.
McCrossin’s Mill Museum
In a three-storey flour mill that dates back to 1870, McCrossin’s Mill Museum is an award-winning community owned and run museum.
Explore exhibits on the local Anaiwan people, the Rocky River gold rush, Captain Thunderbolt (local bushranger Fred Ward), and Australia’s first world champion, rower Ned Trickett, who spent his final days in the town.
Ned’s gravestone has been moved into the museum, while Thunderbolt’s grave can be seen in the town cemetery.
Immerse yourself in local history at McCrossin’s Mill Museum. (Image: Destination NSW)
Pick up a heritage walking map from the Uralla Visitor Information Centre; it lists more than 50 buildings and historical features to look out for as you stroll around town.
You can also download the Uralla Soundtrail for a guided walk that includes local stories from different generations.
Bulagaranda (Mount Yarrowyck) Aboriginal Area
See rock art that’s up to 500 years old at Bulagaranda (Mount Yarrowyck) Aboriginal Area. Around a 20-minute drive from Uralla along Thunderbolt’s Way, the reserve’s Aboriginal cultural walk takes visitors on a three-kilometre return track through natural bushland to the cave painting site.
The parking area includes barbecues, tables and a toilet, so you can bring your lunch to enjoy before or after your walk.
A scenic drive through the countryside will bring you to Dangars Falls, one of the most striking waterfalls in NSW.
The falls have several viewing platforms, including one that’s only 100 metres from the car park; another lets you stand at the top of the falls to watch the water disappear over the edge of the cliff.
Bring a picnic or food to cook on the free barbecues, or get a permit and spend the night in one of seven National Parks campsites.
See the falls from above thanks to the viewing platform. (Image: Josh Armitage/DPE)
First established in the 1880s, Alma Park was given a $500,000 upgrade in 2019 and now features a modern playground with a climbing tower, zip line and a Liberty Swing for children and adults in wheelchairs. There’s a pretty iron lace rotunda and two free electric barbecues.
As well as stretching your legs around the flower beds, visitors can cross the old footbridge for a more challenging walk around Mt Mutton.
In an old aircraft hangar on Hill Street, Little Birdy houses more than 30 local businesses under its big curved roof.
Stallholders include Sole Purpose, where you can order handmade, made-to-measure vegan shoes, Anna Sutherland Design, where everything is designed, screen printed and sewn in Uralla, and Hillbilly Made, where you can find unusual reclaimed and upcycled homewares.
Find amazing designs inside an old aircraft hangar at Little Birdy.
Uralla art galleries
Get an art fix in one of the town’s galleries. Exhibitions by Australian artists can be found alongside a collection of candles, linen and confectionery at Uralla Gallery.
Barking Dog Gallery showcases handmade ceramics, wood and glass art in an old bakery building, while Chaucer on Bridge Street Gallery offers ceramics classes on Saturday mornings, as well as selling ceramics and jewellery by local artists.
Spot Uralla’s fairy doors
First spotted on the main street in the 2020 Covid lockdowns, the Uralla fairy doors – each with its own unique style – are fun to find for both children and big kids at heart.
Spot the man fairy doors scattered around town. (Image: Uralla Fairy Festival)
Pick up a fairy door map at the Uralla Visitor Information Centre or download one here. Expect lots of fairy wings in the streets in December for the Uralla Fairy Festival (wizards are also welcome).