Spend time in Glen Innes Highlands country and it is easy to forget you are in the 21st century.
Much of the area’s pioneering spirit has been preserved at the Land of the Beardies History House Museum and Emmaville Mining Museum, for example.
The Glen Innes town centre contains over 50 heritage-listed buildings. The Showgrounds are a beautifully preserved example of 19th century pavilions and grand stands.
Many locals are keeping traditional crafts alive. You will find crafts that date from the area’s pioneering days – saddlers, blacksmiths and farriers. There are glass blowers and stained glass makers, a boutique distillery, dance and drama schools and troupes, painters, sculptors and potters. A visit to Glen Innes is a chance to watch them at work or learn a new craft.
For a small regional town, some visitors are surprised that Glen Innes is home to several collectable books stores with close to a quarter of a million books in stock.
So, where to start? Well, that’s really dependent on your interests.
Glen Innes’s main street, Grey Street, has many Heritage-listed grand 19th century buildings. They are short walk from the Visitor Information Centre (1), so this would be a good place to start. The Centre’s staff can help you plan your heritage itinerary, whether you have just a couple of hours or several days – including a heritage walk past 50 listed buildings.
Notable Grey Street buildings include the former Royal Hotel (2), the Courthouse (3), Great Central Hotel (4), the Italianate Town Hall (5), Kwong Sing & Co (6), ANZ Bank (7) and the Imperial Hotel (8). Side streets house other gems such as the Eastmon Business Centre in an old flour mill (9).
On the western side of town are streets with examples of grand late 19th century houses, one of which is now the New England Club (10).
A few blocks west on the way to Inverell is the Land of the Beardies History House (11), housed in the old Glen Innes Hospital, the oldest building of which dates from 1877. The Land of the Beardies has grown to become one of the great folk museums in Australia. It is also a fabulous place to delve into local or family history, with a collection of 12,000 photographs, 300,000 documents and knowledgeable researchers.
Further out of town is the historic village of Emmaville (12). Emmaville’s settlement accelerated after the discovery of tin at Vegetable Creek in 1872, then silver, emeralds, sapphires and other precious stones. At the Club Hotel (13), you can marvel at the old cast iron stove and the 80-year-old water boiler, both of which are in use today.
On the eastern side of town is the Glen Innes Showground (14). Established in 1877, the grounds are home to some beautiful pavilions and stands – and if you are here in February, you must visit the Glen Innes Agricultural Show, running since 1869.
Arts and crafts thrive in the Glen Innes Highlands region. The Glen Innes Arts Council, is the oldest continuously operating Arts Council in Australia. The Council shows popular and art house films in the 122-year-old ex church that is now the Chapel Theatre (15).
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Below is an interactive map. The map shows markers to the various locations mentioned above. Click on the map icon for the destination you wish to visit. A popup description will appear. To get directions, click on the word ‘Directions’. A panel will appear below the map. Enter your location in the first section. The second section is automatically filled out. Click on ‘Get Directions’. The directions to the destination will appear below this.