In the north of the state, deep within the New England Highlands, you’ll discover Australia’s very own Celtic Country. True, this part of the world can’t quite claim the same ancient connections to Gaelic heritage that Scotland, Ireland and Wales can, but it shares a deep affinity with this cultural lineage nonetheless, carried by the Scottish frontiersman John Oxley, who was among the first non-Indigenous settlers to explore the region in 1818. As of 1992, Glen Innes even has its very own mystical ring of standing stones ala Stone Henge, although this is more of a public sculpture-cum-tourist curio than anything a card-carrying Druid might recognise. Colourful anachronisms aside, with its crisp, snow-dusted winters and mild springs and summers, it does at least share some common ground with the climates of other Celtic nations and makes for a great holiday spot if you prefer cooler climbs to the scorched desert. The area is very popular with those in search of outdoor adventure, with great hiking routes through the Gibraltar Range and Washpool National Park and kayaking and canoeing along the Nybodia River. It's also got an excellent reputation for gourmet cuisine and superb local produce.
Where to stay: It's fair to say that Glen Innes is prone to theatrical flourishes when it comes to its history, so why not embrace that spirit with a stay at the Deepwater Bank BnB, a guest house in the settlement's original bank, complete with Victorian furnishings.
Getting there: It's a 6.5-hour drive from Sydney, straight up Thunderbolts Way, or else a flight to Armidale followed by a bus ride, which will save you about an hour's journey time.