Glen Innes is a charming town located in the Northern Tablelands of New England in New South Wales and despite it’s modest size there are so many things to do here! The town is steeped in Celtic history and was one of my favourite stops on my NSW road trip! Here’s all you need to know about things to do in Glen Innes!
Glen Innes At A Glance
Altitude: 1,135 metres above sea level
Average winter temperature: 8 degrees
Average summer temperature: 20 degrees
Average rainfall each year: 80cm
The first European settlers to Glen Innes arrived in 1838. They were largely Scots and secondly Irish.
THINGS TO DO IN GLEN INNES – CELTIC COUNTRY NSW
Standing Stones Glen Innes
Glen Innes is home to the famous Australian Standing Stones. The Standing Stones monument was constructed in 1992 in recognition of the involvement of the Celts who helped lay the foundations of a nation and build modern-day Australia.
The Celts were farming people who lived across the British Isles and parts of Europe from around 2600 years ago. Standing Stones were an important feature of ancient Celtic life. The shadows that the stones made from the placement of the sun allowed them to mark the change of seasons. This was how they knew when it was the correct time to sow and harvest their crops.
Celts not only come from Ireland and Scotland like most people think. They also come from Brittany (France), Isle of Man, Cornwall (England) and Wales and you’ll see all the flags here as well as plaques dedicated to each of the regions.
At the Standing Stones Glen Innes you’ll see 38 standing stones, which includes a circle of 24 stones which represents the 24 hours in a day. You’ll also find the Excalibur Sword in the Stone here. You can try to lift it – legend has it that he who pulls the sword from the stone shall be endowed with great knowledge and wisdom! There are also lots of plaques dedicated to the memory of the Celts by the Celtic Family Wall – a wall where clans and families have placed authentic stones from their Celtic homelands.
The Standing Stones are the site of the annual Australian Celtic Festival – a 4 day event where Celtic history, culture, dance and music are celebrated. They are also the site of the winter (21 June) and summer (21 December) Solstice Ceremonies! I would have loved to have been here to witness either of these!
There are toilets on site as well as Crofter’s Cottage – a replica Celtic cottage where you can grab some refreshments. If you drive or walk up to Martin’s Lookout (only 400 metres away up a slight hill) you’ll get a nice view of the town below, then there is a nice viewpoint of the Standing Stones as you come back down the hill.
The Standing Stones was the part of Glen Innes I was most looking forward to – being a Celt myself, and it is definitely somewhere you shouldn’t miss on your trip to Glen Innes!
Explore the Heritage Buildings on Grey Street
Grey Street – the main road in Glen Innes is full of gorgeous 19th Century Heritage listed buildings all in very good condition. Just take a stroll down here on the CBD Heritage Walk and be amazed at all the buildings – if you’re anything like me you’ll find it hard to keep your camera away for more than a few seconds! I was here during spring time so all the trees and flowers were in bloom – it was so lovely!
What’s amazing is that there is even an app that will guide you through the Glen Innes Heritage Walk and provide you with all the information about the history of the buildings here! Download the Heritage Walk app here for Apple or here for Android.
The Town Hall is located in an absolutely stunning heritage building in the middle of the high street. I was honestly blown away by how beautiful it was!
Grey Street has an incredibly Celtic vibe – even the dustbins have Celtic cladding on them, as well as some of the pavements. Honestly I felt like I had stepped back in time and been transported back to Ireland! Free wifi is also available on Grey Street if you need it!
A really fun activity that Glen Innes is known for is fossicking to look for sapphires! You can go fossicking at Fossicker Caravan Park which is very centrally located just a 200 metre walk from the shops on Grey Street.
They have a DVD you can watch prior to fossicking that shows you how to do it, or alternatively they have instructions by the fossicking site that explain everything.
Guests who stay overnight at Fossicker Caravan Park get a discount off the price of fossicking – click here to book!
The Land of the Beardies Museum
Head back in time and visit The Land of the Beardies History House Museum! This is one of the best and largest Folk museums you will find!
Entry is $10 and on weekdays the museum is open from 10-12 and then again from 1pm-4pm. On weekends it is only open from 1pm-4pm (long weekends from 9am-4pm).
There are several other museums you may want to also visit nearby, with the Mining Museum in Emmaville – 56km north of Glen Innes, being one of them. Tin was found in Emmaville in 1872 and an influx of people moved here hoping to become rich from mining. The Museum houses a replica Blacksmith’s shop, mineral and gem collections, an old Wood-fired Bakery, a Miners Hut and a bottle collection. Entry is by gold coin donation and opening times are 10am-4pm. The museum is closed on Thurdays and public holidays.
There are so many festivals here!!
If you are planning a visit to Glen Innes in May then make sure you time it for the first weekend of the month so you are here for the Australian Celtic Festival! Other exciting celebrations and festivals in Glen Innes include the Glen Innes Races, Glenfest, the Solstice Celebrations, the Flag Raising Ceremony and the New England Alpaca Show.
Celtic Country Sign
On your way out of town driving south towards Stonehenge and Glencoe you’ll see the ‘Celtic Country’ sign on your left. There is plenty parking here as well as some picnic tables here.
The Super Strawberry
Head to Super Strawberry to enjoy some delicious strawberries and strawberry milkshakes as well as scones, jam and cream! They have a really cute gift store and you can see the strawberry fields as you sit and enjoy your coffee.
WHERE TO STAY IN GLEN INNES
Fossicker Caravan Park Glen Innes
If you are here on a road trip, the award winning Fossicker Caravan Park is the best caravan park to stay in Glen Innes! Not only is it the best caravan park but it is also the most centrally located caravan park in town: it is located just a 3 minute walk from the shops and restaurants on Grey Street so you don’t even need your car to get around. Perfect if you fancy a few beers down the local!
The family-run Fossicker Caravan Park accommodates those in caravans but it also has luxurious villas to accommodate those who aren’t camping.
For those in a caravan, you can choose between a regular powered site or an en suite site (where you are in your own caravan but you have your own private bathroom and shower as opposed to using the communal bathrooms). I had the en-suite, and let me tell you it was such a luxury to have my own bathroom and to have a fresh towel waiting for me!
There is a communal kitchen complete with dining table, BBQ, microwave, kettle, toaster and cleaning products. Laundry and drying facilities are provided too and the campsite is wheelchair friendly.
Another great thing about Fossicker Caravan Park is that pets are allowed – you’ll often find many caravan parks don’t allow pets, so it’s great they are welcome here! The signal on the free wifi here is also exceptionally strong and you can use your devices from anywhere in the park – not like in many caravan parks where you lose the signal once you are in your caravan!
What’s more, there is an on-site store and service station and guests get a discount off the price of fuel here! Throughout my NSW roadtrip, Fossicker Caravan Park was probably the favourite out of all the caravan parks I stayed in. Honestly I could not fault anything about it. Definitely consider staying here
The Bank Guest House
If you’re not in a campervan, or you have a larger budget and fancy treating yourself, spend a night in the beautifully restored Bank Guest House which is located right in the centre of town on Grey Street.
Great Central Hotel
Situated right opposite The Bank Guest House is Great Central Hotel that is 130 years old. It has been restored excellently in a way to preserve it’s rich history. Rooms have balconies and there is a great bar and restaurant downstairs.
Where to go for food in Glen Innes
Glen Innes has some great places to go for food. You’ll find everything on Grey Street – Glen Innes’ main street. Here are my recommendations!
The Local is the best place to go for breakfast!
– The bar and restaurant at Great Central Hotel has good food and great vibes and is located in a stunning building.
– The award winning Hereford Steakhouse for all the meat-lovers! (Vegetarian is available too).
– The Highlands Restaurant – specialises in Angus and Wagyu beef sourced from New England.
– Glen Innes Railway Tavern – New England’s best kept secret!
The Red Lion Tavern in Glencoe is 20km south of Glen Innes and makes a great place to stop for food if you will be driving south down to Armidale. It is a traditional Olde English style tavern and the atmosphere, drinks and food here is second to none. There are also a few rooms upstairs available to book. Note The Red Lion Tavern is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Places nearby Glen Innes to visit:
Gibraltar Range & Washpool National Parks
Both Gibraltar Range & Washpool National Parks are located roughly 80km north-east of Glen Innes, so if you are driving here via Grafton on the Gwydir Highway you will drive past them. You can do some great hikes here and see some fantastic viewpoints so it is a great place to stop off if you have time!
Balancing Rock, Stonehenge
Balancing Rock is in the village of Stonehenge which is located 12km south of Glen Innes. Stonehenge as you might have guessed is named after the Stonehenge in Britain as the surrounding countryside has lots of large granite boulders. One boulder in particular is noticeable and very impressive – known as Balancing Rock. This is a giant granite rock that sits precariously on a 3cm point.
It lies on private land so you can’t walk up to it, but there is a Rest Area about 150 metres away from the Balancing Rock on the side of the highway (signposted ‘Balancing Rock’ ) where you can get some good photos.
If you are driving down to Sydney or The Hunter Valley from Glen Innes you’ll drive through Armidale which is located 100km south of Glen Innes. Stop off here to stretch your legs (it’s a lot of driving!) and fill up the tank, and stroll around the pedestrianised mall. Like Glen Innes there are some really beautiful heritage buildings here. Honestly I can’t get over all these stunning heritage buildings in regional Australia – it is totally not what I would have expected to see!
When should you visit Glen Innes?
Glen Innes stands at an elevation of 1,135 metres above sea level. You can say it often has the same temperature as back in the real Celtic Country! The high altitude means temperatures are cooler here – which can be great if you are visiting in the summer and wish to escape the heat! But wrap up warm if you come in winter! I visited at the beginning of spring and the temperature was very pleasant.
How to get to Glen Innes
Glen Innes is located 570km north of Sydney and 320km south-west of Byron Bay. The best way to get here is by driving as public transport options are extremely limited.
This post is sponsored by Fossicker Caravan Park Glen Innes.