The New England Plateau rises parallel to the coast, extending from the northern end of the Hunter Valley, some 200km north of Sydney, all the way to the Queensland border. At the top it’s between 1000m and 1400m above sea level, and on the eastern edge an escarpment falls away steeply towards the coast. This eastern rim consists of precipitous cliff faces, deep gorges, thickly forested valleys, streams and mighty waterfalls, and because of its inaccessibility remains a largely undisturbed wilderness. On the plateau itself the scene is far more pastoral, as sheep and cattle graze on the undulating highland. Because of the altitude, the climate up here is fundamentally different from the subtropical coast, a mere 150km or so away: winters are cold and frosty, with occasional snowfalls, while in summer the fresh, dry air can offer welcome relief after the coastal heat and humidity. Even during a heatwave the nights will be pleasantly cool.
The New England Highway, one of the main links between Brisbane and Sydney, passes all the major towns – Tamworth, Armidale, Glen Innes and Tenterfield – from where scenic side-roads branch off towards the coast. Farms and stations all over the highlands provide farmstay accommodation, offering horseriding and other activities.