Australia has its fair share of summer festivals, but there is only one Tamworth Country Music Festival (TCMF).
Tamworth is the acknowledged home of country music in Australia. Like Nashville in the USA, Tamworth is instantly recognised for its links with the burgeoning popularity of country music here in Australia.
So it stands to reason then, that the TCMF is the premier annual celebration of all that Australian country music has to offer.
IMAGE CREDITS: Tamworth Regional Council, Tamworth Country Music Festival, Antony Hands - Chasing Summer Photography, Jessica Parish, Destination Tamworth.
During the ten day 17 - 26 January party, the TCMF plays host to the cream of this country’s country music talent, including, deep breath... Paul Kelly, Troy Cassar-Daley, Beccy Cole, Don Walker, Graeme Connors, Sara Storer, Adam Harvey, Bill Chambers, Dean Perrett, Jeff Brown, Glenn Jones, Dianne Lindsay, Peter Simpson, James Blundell, Catherine Britt, Travis Collins, Kevin Bennett, Felicity Urquhart, Lyn Bowtell, Luke O’Shea, Amber Lawrence, Adam Eckersley, Gina Jeffreys, Colin Buchanan, Brad Butcher, Davidson Brothers, Tania Kernaghan, and Lawrie Minson, along with family of Joy and Slim Anne Kirkpatrick, David Kirkpatrick, James Arneman & Flora Smith (Small Town Romance), Hannah Kirkpatrick, Daniel Kirkpatrick and Kate Arneman. Please...breathe freely again. But know that even this exhaustive list doesn’t tell the full picture.
The TCMF is considered to be one of the most unique festivals in the world, with more than 700 artists performing across 100 venues as part of 2,800 scheduled events. As well, more than 70 per cent of these events are free of charge.
Festival Manager, Barry Harley said: “These artists join the already huge line-up performing in Tamworth this coming January, and it’s reassuring to see artists continuing to support what is not only the biggest festival in the country but the biggest economic driver for the Tamworth region.”
Tellingly, the 2020 festival features a special tribute to one of Australia’s most loved pioneering singer songwriters, Joy McKean.
Joy will celebrate her 90th birthday during TCMF 2020 and Festival organisers, together with Joy’s family, have put together an incredible line-up of artists to perform in her honour.
Some of country music’s biggest names, along with pop icons Paul Kelly and Don Walker, will take to the stage to perform their versions of Joy’s compositions.
Iconic songs, made famous by the late Slim Dusty, such as Lights on the Hill, Biggest Disappointment, Ringer from the Top End, Walk a Country Mile and Indian Pacific have resonated with Australian’s since Joy took out the first-ever Golden Guitar Award in 1973.
Country music superstar Troy Cassar-Daley said: “Joy has been an inspiration to our industry and in a workplace mostly dominated by males, she stood her ground and earned the respect she so rightly deserves. She is a national treasure.”
The respect that artists have for Joy and her catalogue of classics is far-reaching and her birthday concert — Concert for Joy — is set to be a historic event at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Conference Centre on Wednesday, 22 January 2020.
For families, the TCMF has a dedicated Family Zone with rides and entertainment and tonnes of free shows. Families will also love the Toyota Cavalcade, a street parade on Saturday 25 January, 2020, on Peel Street.
There will be free shows every night of the festival in Toyota Park and fans will be able to see their favourite artists up-close-and-personal on the FanZone stage in Peel Street, daily.
Hundreds of aspiring artists (and some well-known faces who may pop-up) will be busking in Tamworth's Peel Street for the duration of the festival.
CAMPING AT THE FESTIVAL
Festival organisers told Camper recently, “The Tamworth region is chock full of diverse landscapes right on its doorstep.
“During the festival, there are premier camping options right in the CBD, including the Riverside Camping Grounds, and Wallaroo Camping Hire do great pre-pitched tent packages for those that need some extra kit to accommodate bigger groups.”
The Riverside Camping Grounds are a central camping location next to the Peel River, just a few minutes walk from the musical hype and action in the Tamworth CBD.
Camping sites here can be pre-purchased or bought at the gate, via credit card or Eftpos. Campers can book a site for one of three windows of time:
- Total TCMF (countdown plus festival, Friday 10 to Sunday 26 January 2020): $280
- 10 days of the festival (Friday 17 to Sunday 26 January 2020): $170
- Final weekend (Friday 24 to Sunday 26 January 2020): $100
A site fee is to be paid for each vehicle requiring entry to the camp grounds. Please note that a daily rate is not available.
On top of the aforementioned, there are a bunch of other choices available to campers, such as at caravan parks, or at a variety of temporary sites that pop up for the duration of the festival. RV dump points are also located throughout the area for your convenience. National Park camping nearby is also possible.
THINGS TO DO AROUND TAMWORTH
Peel River Levee Bank Track
The Peel River levee bank follows the top of the levee banks from Scotts Road in the south to Jewry Street in the north of Tamworth. There are also a number of fitness stations along this track where the energetic can tone up or work out on a variety of fitness equipment apparatus. It is a fully sealed and gently undulating track along the river, suitable to walk, run or cycle.
Out from Barraba, Horton Falls Reserve is great for the bushwalker. For the fitter person, there’s a two-hour walk to the base of the gorge, for which the reward is stunning scenery — but there’s also an easier track from the carpark to the top of the falls. In this reserve, you can also take a swim or rough it camping.
Oxley Scenic Lookout & Kamilaroi Walking Track
The Oxley Scenic Lookout provides visitors with panoramic views of the city of Tamworth and Peel River Valley. The Lookout is surrounded by natural bushland and is the base camp for the Kamilaroi Walking Track, which winds its way through the bushland of Oxley Park linking the Marsupial Park, Oxley Lookout and Flagstaff Mountain over a distance of several kilometres. Some sections of the walk track are moderate, however other sections are quite challenging. The Lookout is located at the top of White Street and is easily accessible by vehicle (gates are locked at night). There is free parking, toilets and picnic facilities available for visitors.
Riverside Walk, Nundle
Check out Nundle’s Riverside Walk — a shared walk/cycleway that follows the lovely Peel River.
Rocky Creek Glacial Area
45 minutes north-west of Barraba, discover the geological wonders of the Rocky Creek Glacial area. It dates back some 290 million years to the Carboniferous Period; many of the original glacial landscape features have been eroded away and replaced by those associated with running water. It's a great picnic spot, and also a great place to have a swim. Camping is permitted, however there are no facilities.
Just beyond Hanging Rock village near Nundle are the Sheba Dams, a lovely spot for a picnic or a bushwalk. There are barbecue facilities, and the bush setting is replete with trees, birds, lizards, wallabies and pademelons. And the fish are known to bite here too. The area is regarded as good fossicking country with zircons, sapphires and other semi-precious stones to be found.
Warrabah National Park
North of Tamworth is Warrabah National Park, a tranquil national park split by the stunning Namoi River. Massive granite boulders are set above the valley’s tranquil pools where you can fish, swim or picnic. Sections of the river offer challenging rapids, which are perfect for canoeing adventures.
HAVE FUN ON THE WAY
For all those coming from the south, TCMF organisers recommend Camper readers turn off the New England Highway and explore Nundle and Hanging Rock
The beautiful towns of Quirindi and Willow Tree are a short day-trip from Tamworth to the south.
Those approaching the festival from the north should definitely stop by Warrabah National Park, Mount Kaputar National Park and Horton Falls.
A great day trip from Tamworth to the north is Uralla.
It promises to be a great ten days.