For more than half a century, this quaint blue-granite saddlery on High St in Tenterfield – subsequently made famous by singer/songwriter Peter Allen, who was born in the town – was a meeting place for those who enjoyed discussions on a wide variety of topics.
Saddler George Woolnough continued to ply his trade, listening but undisturbed by the chatter and opinions of his many friends who wandered in.
It was George’s compassion that attracted so many to his now-famous premises from 1908 until his retirement in 1960. George died in 1963 and his grave is in Tenterfield Cemetery (C/E, Row E, Lot 34). His home at 30 Manners St still exists and is privately owned.
One famous customer of the Tenterfield Saddler was ‘Banjo’ Paterson, the well-loved Australian poet and author. Banjo lived in the town for a short while and married a local girl, Alice Walker of Tenterfield Station, in 1903.
The site of the saddlery was originally bought by Stuart Alexander Donaldson for 32 pounds and 10 shillings in 1858. Sir Stuart was the owner of Tenterfield Station and went on to become the first premier of New South Wales.
It was sold in 1870 to Charles Pavel, the town’s first saddler, but four years later it became a bank, being perfect for such a purpose because its granite walls were more than 20 inches (50cm) thick.
From 1895 to 1897 it became a private home before saddler Dan Egan bought it and turned it back to its original purpose.
George Woolnough became the longest-serving saddler and was succeeded by Ted Daly and Trevor Gibson. There have been just five Tenterfield saddlers in total, with four having been in continuous service since 1897.
Peter Allen – who changed his name from Woolnough when he moved to Sydney and became a performer – was George’s grandson and in 1972 perpetuated the memory of his ancestor in one of his best-known songs, The Tenterfield Saddler.
The High Street site remains in largely original condition and is now listed by the National Trust. It naturally draws many fans of the internationally acclaimed singer and his famous ode to his dead grandfather, but even if you’re not a fan, the historic saddlery is worth a visit.
The Tenterfield Saddler is located at 123 High St, Tenterfield.