Earlier this year I had a couple of days in the New England district, and this included some time in Armidale. It was early autumn but the days were already crisp. Armidale has the highest city airport in Australia and there were issues with landing the plane due to low-lying clouds.
Armidale is roughly halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, and is known for its distinct four seasons. It is the largest town in the district and is a major ecclesiastical and educational centre including boarding schools and the main University of New England campus.
There are lots of interesting buildings throughout the centre of Armidale. The Armidale Courthouse is the oldest remaining public building and is a landmark in the town. Original construction began in 1859 and there were major alterations and additions over the decades. In 1870 the building was remodelled to a design by Colonial Architect James Barnet, and a time capsule was laid beneath the floorboards by the Clerk of Petty Sessions.
This clerk, Sydney Blythe, who appeared to have been drunk at the time of writing, dedicated the time capsule (which was contained in a cognac bottle), ‘For and on Behalf of my numerous creditors.’
The building on the left of the photo is the Armidale Post Office which was built in 1880 and is another Barnet building. The first post office was established in 1843.
As I walked about, it was hard to ignore the little corellas flying and squawking around the town. There were flocks of them everywhere, and this pair were keeping a close eye on what I was up to as I walked through Central Park.
There are some Art Deco style buildings in Armidale, including the Tattersalls Hotel. It was remodelled in the 1930s and it has recently been redeveloped. There is an interesting history of the hotel here.
The life of Australian poet Judith Wright is remembered in Civic Park. I have written about this previously, and it was lovely to walk through the grove of commemorative trees. Wright was born at Wallamumbi Station, near Armidale, and is considered to be one of the greatest Australian poets.
One last heritage building that caught my eye was the Armidale Town Hall. It was completed in 1882 and is now used as a venue for functions.
This is just a small sample of the many delights of this New England town.
[Photo: Saints Mary and Joseph Catholic Cathedral – one of two magnificent cathedrals in Armidale]