Discovering Armidale…


I did not know what to expect of Armidale. A country town set almost 1000 metres above sea level. It is surrounded by gorges, waterfalls and Heritage listed National parks.

But I found out that it is not just a country town, it is a city and there is much more to discover when I went on the “Heritage bus tour”

What a treasure this tour was. Two and a half hours guided by Norm, our knowledgeable local volunteer, and all they asked was to give a donation. It is certainly the very best guided tour I have ever been on.

Norm loved his city and was proud to tell us that with only a population of approx 24,700 it was a bustling and thriving city with a university and 2 cathedrals. Yet it retained much of its heritage past. As he slowly drove  around he told stories of the characters past and present.

First stop was to visit the Aboriginal Cultural Centre.

Armidale heritage bus tour pc 059_4000x3000

Notice this cute bench Jude?

Inside was examples of Aboriginal art work and crafts. Next door was the New England Regional Art Gallery (NERAM) but being Monday it was closed, but Norm gave us all the background history and we made a note to visit the next day.

Armidale has 2 cathedrals and after the bus tour finished we went back for a closer look and, of course, to take photos.

St Peters is the Anglican Cathedral and the brick work is stunning.

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This Cathedral is only open in the morning so we missed seeing the interior. But the Catholic Cathedral, St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s Cathedral is open all day so we looked inside.

To continue with the bus tour the next stop was at the Railway Museum and Station. While we learnt the history of how the railway opened up the outback we were served a welcome cup of tea and biscuits (Remember this is all for free or a donation)

The final part of the tour took us around the extensive University grounds.  This property comprised the old homestead, ‘Booloominbah’, with several other buildings and 74 hectares of land. Since the original gift, other generous benefactors have presented properties to the university, whose Armidale site now comprises some 260 hectares.

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We drive past extensive building projects in the University grounds. A sign of a thriving community.

The final stop is at “Booloominbah” situated in the heart of the University grounds.

The building now houses the offices of the University’s senior management, including the Vice-Chancellor’s office.

Armidale lr-2

Booloominbah reflects the Gothic revivalist influences of the ‘Queen Anne‘ style that emerged in England and the United States in the last half of the 19th century. Recent refurbishment has restored much of the original decoration. The building has National Trust classification, as well as being listed on the Register of the National Estate. It has been described as being “perhaps Hunt’s greatest achievement in the field of domestic architecture.”[3] It also has a New South Wales heritage listing.  (Wikipedia)

This impressive home was built in 1888 for Frederick White and his family, who decided to establish his family of seven children in Armidale because the cooler, fresher, drier air of the Tablelands was good for their health.

Norm took us around the downstairs area telling us tales of what life was like in the early days of colonialism.

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Follow us in and wonder at the amount of house work, with no modern appliances, that it would take. Dusting, polishing, cleaning, fires to be lit in winter, windows to clean, the list is endless. But, no doubt, if you have the money to build a house this size you also have the money to maintain an army of servants…

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An interesting piece of information, passed on by Norm, these chairs in the dining room, were made by “De Groot”, The notorious character who rushed in to cut the ribbon at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (A very interesting part of Australia’s history)

It was 1pm when Norm delivered us back to the Information Centre. After 3 hours I now appreciate this lovely city. Time for lunch then back wandering through the streets to admire and take photos of the beautiful heritage buildings.

Come for a walk around with me…

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Just an example of how friendly the locals are. This worker noticed Jack taking photos and started a conversation. He said he was on the council and asked if we would like to see inside the Town Hall. He had the keys as it was shut today being prepared for an evening function. Of course we said “yes please”.

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This is just a small sample of the photos I took. This city has a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and I could easily spend more time here. But we did get another day to explore, so I will show you where we went when next I have time to do a post. (Farm life is very time demanding… )

I’m back with Restless Jo’s walking group again this week.

To be continued…


Categories: Armidale, Australia, Heritage bus tour, photos, travel | Tags: , , , | 35 Comments

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35 thoughts on “Discovering Armidale…

  1. Pingback: Thursday Doors : Armidale… | Memories are made of this

  2. Pingback: Bench Series : December along the Waterfall Way… | gypsy life

  3. Joan and Terry Watson

    I have driven through Armidale many times but never stopped, another destination we must go to, photos marvellous.


  4. I”ve visited Armidale a few times, but mainly passing through. You make it a destination.

    (My daughter studied there because as a child she visited when J was a student and there was a deer farm on campus – is it still there?


  5. I have driven through and stopped for lunch. Sadly, it’s only been a transit stop on the way to my ultimate destination. I should allow more time next time. Thanks for the photos.


  6. poppytump

    Wow that was an extensive tour Pauline . Isn’t it wonderful to come across kind and free giving people like Norm . He obviously loves it all . Two cathedrals ! The City is smaller than our town 😉 I’m not sure why I find it so strange still when I see the influence of Arts and Crafts /Gothic/ Victorianism in Australia … Great photo ops you’ve taken advanatge of Pauline . Plenty of noises off on your return to the farm I’m sure Pauline baaaaa 🙂


    • It seems if there is a Cathedral it is granted city status, another snippet from Norm. The camera is going overtime Poppy. I had intended to do some drawing too but not found the time yet. ‘Scuse me I hear the cows calling for their breakfast!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Joy Hall

    Hi Pauline – Wonderful photography as usual. Passed quickly thru’ there many years ago on our way
    back to Sydney but will now put it on my ‘bucket list’. Like your male model, always think of him when
    I look at the Water lillies on our dam! They always look so colourful when flowering. Must catchup when
    you are both back on G.C. Love Joy


  8. Awesome pictures, Pauline. I love Armidale and must go with Norm on a tour next time I’m there. It’s very interesting that those chairs were made my De Groot – wow! 😀


  9. Wonderful pictures. It looks like the best trip ever! I love tours. 🙂


  10. Thank you dear PP for the tour around this lovely country town city, you show us all the interesting bits of a place. The architecture is typical of the colonial Victorian style, to be seen in parts of South Africa and Canada and other parts of the world where Europeans settled. I love the tin roofs and the wrought-iron railings, the balconies and the bargeboards. I’m sure these heritage cottages are a lot more expensive to buy nowadays though! Lovely to see the roses and jasmine too — deep sniff 🙂


    • I was very impressed with Armidale. One of those unexpected finds when you are travelling. I agree about the price of the cottages and the maintenance and upkeep would be expensive too.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. What a pretty Cathedral, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one built of bricks. Such kind people, they clearly love their city and that’s not surprising, its gorgeous.


  12. What a treasure trove of a city, Pauline (and that’s without even counting Booloominbah- what a place!). Your driver sounds a sweetheart, and the sun was sparkling away. Great way to spend a day! Thanks for the link 🙂


    • It was voted 3rd place in tourism places to visit in 2014. A hidden gem that is slowly being found by the tourists. Norm was a mine of information and loved his city a pleasure to be on his tour

      Liked by 1 person

  13. WOW! So wonderful! You can see the imprint of Europe all over. Lovely~


  14. Armidale lived up to being heritage listed and this post has done it justice.
    Also all the links give extra information, I was pleased to see a link to the Sydney Harbour Bridge as it is the same age as me and Sydney is where I was born.
    I am pleased you showed the photo of Norm he made the day.
    Of course, you Pauline make every day an adventure and a pleasure. _/\_


  15. Wonderful look at Armidale. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to live in Booloominbah. Great architecture. Thanks for showing us the sights.


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