Less than 20km from the Queensland border, the buzzing little town of TENTERFIELD marks the northern end of the New England Plateau. From here you can go straight to Ballina on the coast or continue north on the New England Highway. Settled by 61 German families, today Tenterfield honours its Germanic origins with a week-long beer festival in the March of odd-numbered years. Tenterfield has a confirmed place in Australian history, being the birthplace of the Australian Federation. Its title was earned when the Prime Minister of New South Wales, Sir Henry Parkes, made his famous Federation speech here in 1889, advocating the union of the Australian colonies; twelve years later the Commonwealth of Australia was inaugurated.
The Sir Henry Parkes museum (daily 10am–4pm; $5) recalls the occasion, and you'll still see the federation flag flown around town. Tenterfield's other claim to fame is as the birthplace of Peter Allen, the flamboyant singer who penned the popular Tenterfield Saddler – the saddlery itself (Tues– Sun 10am–4pm; free) is on High Street with memorabilia on display and knowledgeable staff – and I still call Australia home (he moved to the USA).
Tenterfield's real attractions lie outside town. Just 30km to the northeast is Bald Rock, in the national park of the same name, which claims to be Australia's second-largest monolith after Uluru, but a grey-granite version, 213m high. You can walk up the northeast side to the summit, from where there are breathtaking panoramic views well into Queensland.
The excursion to Bald Rock combines nicely with a visit to the nearby 210-metre-high Boonoo Boonoo Falls, also set in a national park of the same name, which is home to endangered brush-tailed rock wallabies.