Fossickers Way is a lesser known driving route that will whisk you away from modern life and let you truly unwind as you explore this region known enticingly as ‘gemstone country’.
You’ll need roughly five days to drive this 559-kilometre path that lies inland between Brisbane and Sydney. You can therefore easily book a car hire in NSW in Port Macquarie, or begin a little farther north with a car hire in Queensland on the Gold Coast.
Here’s a brief guide to an unforgettable Fossikers Way road trip.
Day one: Nundle to Tamworth
Start your road trip in the small town of Nundle, an old gold-mining town where you can try your own hand at gold panning. Stop in at Nundle Craft Inc for a few delicious baked goods and take your picnic up to the Handing Rock Lookout for a scenic meal before hitting the road.
Drive the scenic one-hour route to Tamworth to spend the rest of your day. This country music hub is known for its Big Golden Guitar (one of Australia’s many ‘Big Things’), and the attached tourist centre where you can see a collection of the town’s music memorabilia. The Tamworth Marsupial Park is a fun spot for all ages, and should you arrive in January, you might be able to check out the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival (be sure to book accommodation well in advance).
If you want to fly in to Tamworth and start your trip here, we have a location ready to give you a car for the drive.
Day two: Tamworth to Armidale
Leaving Tamworth, make your way to the small town of Uralla, which is roughly an hour away. This historic town is all about wineries and breweries, so be sure to organise a designated driver for tastings. If you prefer to fossick for gems and gold head to Woolridge just around the corner.
Next stop, Armidale, another 20 minutes north-east of Uralla.
Armidale is an old colonial town, where a simple stroll through the central streets will introduce you to fantastic heritage architecture. There are museums and galleries in abundance, and a self-guided heritage walk that will take you to each of the top sights in your own time.
Day three: Armidale to Emmaville
Start your day early to drive one hour north along the A15 to the town of Glen Innes.
Glen Innes is strongly connected to the Scottish Highlands, which is reflected in the annual Australian Celtic Festival each May, and the powerful Australian Standing Stones monument in town. Take a stroll through this stone monument and explore the shops and cafes along the charming main street, and make a stop at Minerama Fossicking if you haven’t yet had the chance to try to find gemstones.
Emmaville is another hour north, and is a small and relaxing hub. It is primarily known for the Emmaville Mining Museum, which has photos and artefacts that are well over a century old.
Emmaville is quite small, so you may find it easier to book a room for the night at your next stop in Inverell.
Day four: Emmaville to Barraba
Inverell is 90 minutes from Emmaville, and is known as the Sapphire City as it is home to one of the world’s richest sapphire deposits. Naturally, there are multiple places where you can fossick for gems – such as the Billabong Blue Sapphire Fossicking Park – but you can also explore the Inverell Pioneer Village, or take a walk in the nearby Goonoowigall State Conservation Area.
As you continue on the Fossickers Way route, make a stop in Bingara, which was once the largest diamond producer in Australia. If you have the time, visit the Three Creeks Tourist Gold Mine, or take a horse ride through the lush countryside.
Less than an hour south of Bingara lies Barraba, a popular birdwatching town and a gorgeous final stop on your road trip along Fossickers Way.