Forest bell tents near Armidale

This country town has waterfalls, rainforests, and gorges at its doorstep.

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Forest bell tents near Armidale guide

Overview

Encircled by state forests and national parks, Armidale is the gateway to New England’s High Country, where the lush landscapes provide a backdrop for outdoor activities. Once you’ve seen the heritage buildings and visited the art galleries in town, head out to hike through canyons, see waterfalls, and go wine tasting at cool-climate vineyards. There are plenty of ways to get on the water, whether fishing from the shore, cooling off with a swim, or exploring by canoe. Stay at the tourist park in Armidale or discover secluded bush camping grounds in the surrounding national parks.

Where to go

Western Tablelands 

West of Armidale, the forested slopes and farmlands of the New England tablelands provide plenty of options for campers and bushwalkers. Visit the gold rush town of Bingara and try gold panning along the Gwydir River, enjoy tranquil bush camping in the Warrabah National Park, or camp by Copeton Lake, where you can swim and enjoy water sports in the summer months. Further east, hike or mountain bike through the ancient volcanic landscapes of Mount Kaputar National Park.

Waterfall Way

The scenic 210-kilometre Waterfall Way driving route runs east of Armidale all the way to Coffs Harbour on the NSW coast. Taking around three hours to drive (not accounting for stops), this is a day trip to be savored. Hop out to admire five waterfalls, including Chandler Falls and Crystal Shower Falls, enjoy hikes in the Dorrigo and Cathedral Rock national parks, and spot platypus along the Wollomombi River.

Eastern Tablelands 

East of Armidale, wild rivers and rainforest-clad gorges hug the slopes of the eastern tablelands. Hike or horseback ride through World Heritage-listed rainforest in Washpool National Park, go white water rafting in the Nymboida National Park, or enjoy fishing, swimming, and canoeing in the Guy Fawkes River National Park. Campsites are dotted along the riversides, some of which are reachable only by canoe or 4WD.

When to go

Temperatures rarely hit extremes in the New England Tablelands, so outdoor activities are enjoyable year-round. Summer (December through January) is the best time for camping by the riverside, when it's warm enough to swim and enjoy water sports. Visiting in late spring means you’ll avoid the biggest crowds and see the hillsides blooming with wildflowers, while autumn transforms the bushlands with colorful fall foliage. Winter evenings can drop below 10°C, so wrap up warm if camping.

Know before you go

  • Armidale has bus links to the surrounding towns, but you’ll need a vehicle to explore the tablelands and national parks.
  • Armidale has a selection of shops where you can pick up camping gear and stock up on supplies.
  • Fire bans are common in New South Wales during summer and dry periods, so check local recommendations before lighting a campfire and always use designated fire pits. 
  • A permit is required to camp within NSW’s national parks, and campsites must be booked in advance.

Nearby attractions

  • An historic venue and an interesting tale in revival, the Tamworth Showgrounds have evolved over the last century to be the impressive event space that it is today.
  • An unexplained natural wonder on the border of the beautiful Pilliga State Conservation Area, Yarrie Lake was most likely formed by an asteroid. To this day, the lake resembles an almost lunar landscape.

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