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It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit either, the region’s four distinct seasons means that picturesque scenery is always on show. Lush farmland rolls away in all directions along the roads approaching Uralla. It’s only 20 minutes south of the bustling regional centre of Armidale, but in many ways seems worlds apart.
Wander along the main street and you’ll find that the original facades house an interesting collection of galleries and shops where antiques, antiquarian books, artworks by local artists and pure Australian wool yarn, clothing and accessories are among the temptations. An old-style lolly shop is well stocked with all-time favourite sweet treats and bakeries serve quintessential Australian fare, including meat pies, sausage rolls and vanilla slices. Friendly cafés and iconic pubs dish up farm fresh food and are great places to catch up with local gossip.
History and heritage are a big attraction here. Pastoralists took up sheep and cattle runs in the area in the 1830s and the town was established when gold was discovered nearby in the 1850s. You can learn a lot about the old days and who lived where by taking the self-guided Heritage Walk (pick up a brochure at the Visitor Information Centre) around the pretty streets and historical buildings.
You can also head out to one of the old fossicking sites open to the public and try your luck panning for gold. While you’re there, hoping for the best, cast your mind back to the distant past when around 5000 hopeful gold diggers camped out in the area. This is legendary bushranger country too. In the 1860s, the region was a hangout for Frederick Ward, better known as Captain Thunderbolt, a notorious highway robber. He earned fame and the title of ‘gentleman bushranger’ for never actually shooting anyone and sometimes shouting drinks to those he had just robbed. His daredevil life came to an end in a shootout near Uralla and his grave is in the town’s cemetery. You’ll also find a fascinating collection of Thunderbolt memorabilia in the award-winning historic McCrossin’s Mill Museum.
There’s quite a bit to do and see in the surrounding area. Within easy driving distance from town, for instance, are four cool climate wineries; all have cellar doors for tastings and sales and three have lovely restaurants with views of the vineyards.
Just south of Uralla is Dangars Lagoon, a pristine wetlands area and birdwatchers’ haven. And, about a 15 minute drive north-west is the Mt Yarrowyck Aboriginal rock art site, where fascinating paintings by the region’s first inhabitants can be seen inside the rocky overhangs.
On the scenic drive to Dangars Gorge, you’ll pass the gorgeous vine-clad Gostwyck Chapel and think for a minute that you’re in England. A short stroll across the heritage listed bridge that spans Salisbury Waters, brings visitors to Deeargee Woolshed which was built in 1872. Originally part of Gostwyck Station, Deeargee Station and its unique octagonal woolshed gained their name from the old Gostwyck wool brand, DRG, which stood for Dangar, Gostwyck. There are also a couple of pretty historic villages to explore near Uralla. Bundarra, about a 50 minute drive north west along Thunderbolt’s Way, is one of them. The Gwydir River runs through the village, making it a great destination for a fishing and picnicking expedition. Kentucky is closer, about 15 minutes away, and is where you can enjoy high tea served in the midst of a beautiful rose garden, or wine, boutique beer and fine dining at the nearby winery.
Uralla hosts a variety of annual events including the local agricultural show, Rotary Club of Uralla Art Exhibition, Uralla Lantern Parade, Uralla Food & Wine Festival, Uralla Book Fair, Thunderbolts Festival and Turkey Run.
There’s a range of quality accommodation to choose from in and around Uralla, including campsites, caravan parks, motels, historic pubs, bed and breakfasts and unique farm stays.