Draped in a quilt of green meadows and lush forests, the rolling hills stretch to the horizon where they join with the clear blue sky to create a contrast of colours as interesting as the history of this lush region. This is the countryside on the northern tablelands of New South Wales in Australia, a place of beauty and of intrigue, a place where the Celtic heritage of the people of Glen Innes is celebrated and revered, and a place that offers up innumerable treasures to be explored on your campervan holiday.
With a population of just over 6000 people, Glen Innes and its surrounding Severn Shire are a fairly average sized country town. In fact you would find many things you would expect of country towns- the friendly faces, the pretty scenery and the outdoorsy lifestyle. The different thing about Glen Innes is that it is the Celtic Capital of Australia, a heritage they have fostered here since the first Scottish settlers arrived 50 years after Australia was first settled. In tribute to this heritage the Australian Standing Stones were built, a solar aligned array of 40 granite rocks Modelled on the Ring of Brodgar in the Orkneys and similar to the ones ancient Celtic festivals were held around.
These Standing Stones are unique in a number of ways - for a start they are the only ones of their kind built in the world in the last 3500 years. What makes them especially unique is the Crofters Cottage next door, a cafe crossed with a giftshop that serves up traditional Celtic fare... very tasty and highly recommended! Around the stones every year over the May Day Public Holiday weekend Glen Innes has a Celtic Festival of its own. The Australian Celtic Festival is a celebration of the Celtic heritage of the region, and it has become renowned for its colourful exhibits, non stop entertainment and general all round appeal. Celtic artists from Australia and overseas play traditional music and everyone gets involved in a bit of traditional dancing. Theres stuff for the kids, theres stuff for the parents, theres market stalls, theres strongman events... theres everything really. Its a festival thats getting bigger and bigger, and if you can make your visit to Glen Innes coincide with it you will not be disappointed.
But there is more to Glen Innes and the Severn Shire than just the Celtic heritage. This is 'big sky' and there is lots of amazing places to visit in your motorhome. A high rainfall region with a generally cool climate combined with fertile soils makes this prime wine producing country, and there are over 50 wineries between here and the Queensland border. The Wright Robertson Winery lies 20 km south of town, and was one of the first to be established in the area. This family owned winery relies on organic farming methods, and a visit to their cellar door is an enlightening opportunity to taste and buy some very respectable wine.
Luckily a lot of this countryside is protected by National Park, and there are a number of Parks you can reach from Glen Innes that make for a good days outing, or longer if you wish to stay longer. If thick, lush rainforests are your thing then head east for 78 kilometres along the Gwydir Highway's World Heritage Way and you will reach Washpool National Park, which is the last remaining wilderness rainforest in NSW. Steep gorges are criss crossed by crystal clear creeks, and you are able to experience the worlds largest stand of coachwood trees. There are two camping grounds in the park, so you can stay as long as you like, and there are other designated picnic areas as well.
Fishermen too will be in their element in Glen Innes, with the local waters famed for harbouring the elusive Murray Cod. Other species such as rainbow trout, yellow belly and silver perch will keep the discerning angler content. A great thing about a campervan holiday to Glen Innes is that its an easily accessible destination, and whichever direction you drive to it from there is lots to see. Four hours from Brisbane and seven hours from Sydney, you can pick up your motorhome in either of these spots and enjoy seeing the sights and sounds of the Australian countryside on your drive to Glen Innes.
Gavin Wyatt is a journalist with a passion for travel. originally from Zambia he has traveled around the world to end up on the sunny shores of Australia. For more of his articles visit Discovery Campervans