Glen Innes is a wonderland of Celtic history, fun folklore, unique festivals, and incredible scenery. Navanka Fletcher – a Glen Innes local and Big Kilt campaigner – shares with us what makes her town special.
How long have you lived in Glen Innes?
24 years, minus two years to attend uni. I’m the 8th generation from some of the original Irish settlers!
What’s the best thing about living in Glen Innes?
Well you can never complain about the traffic if you’re late for work! In all seriousness though, Glen Innes has an amazing sense of community and the locals love to get behind the town, with everything from fundraising for events to raising thousands of dollars for locals in need.
What annual events or festivals should people visit Glen Innes for?
Glen Innes loves to keep traditions alive and we have many festivals and events throughout the year, enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Our town is famous for the Australian Celtic Festival, held every year on the first weekend in May. The festival is about to celebrate its 27th year.
We’re also famous for Minerama, the largest fossicking, gem and jewellery show in NSW, and the Glen Innes Agricultural Show, which has been running for over 150 years and is known as the crown jewel of NSW country shows.
Where in Glen Innes can you find the best…
The Coffee Incident (316 Grey Street). The team serve delicious highly caffeinated, choc-chipped, and lightly carbonated drinks, as well as gourmet toasties and yummy pizzas for you to catch up over.
• Pub meal?
The Railway Tavern (corner of Bourke and Lambeth Streets) is the local watering hole. Its mascot is a cheeky leprechaun who will serve you delicious pub grub made from local ingredients and Guinness on tap.
Cuisine Café (305 Grey Street) serve a BIG breakfast with even BIGGER menu options. Open seven days a week, locals love this place.
• Meat pie?
Glen Pie Shop (288 Grey Street). Their famous Pie Drive fundraiser is hotly anticipated by locals and raises thousands for our schools.
Smeaton’s Bakery has been baking fresh goodies daily for the Glen Innes community since 1939. All of their baking expertise has been combined to make the best lamington you will ever eat. Smeaton’s is also the home of the NSW Young Baking Champion, Khai Quinn.
What’s the best free thing to do in Glen Innes?
The ancient Celts who lived across Europe and the British Isles 2600 years ago raised stones as calendars to mark the seasons so they’d know when to sow and harvest. Our Standing Stones are a modern celebration of the Celtic nations whose descendants contributed to settlement in Australia. Take a free self-guided tour by picking up a brochure from the Visitor Information Centre.
What’s something surprising about Glen Innes that only locals know?
We have a panther – at least, according to folklore. It was first reported in 1958, when a 15-year-old boy spotted a large, cat-like beast about 18 miles outside Emmaville. He ran away and told a miner, who was working nearby, what he saw. Coincidentally, a day earlier the miner had found a kangaroo carcass that had been “ripped to shreds and its backbone torn out”. The miner’s jacket, which he’d left nearby, was also torn to pieces.
Over the next few months, multiple people in the region reported seeing a similar creature or finding evidence of its existence. It was never caught, but believers claimed that it had escaped from a travelling circus or a World War II air force base (where they were supposedly kept as mascots).
What’s Glen Innes’s best-kept secret?
Old Grafton Road, from Glen Innes to Grafton. 180km of sealed and unsealed road linking the mountains to the sea. It opened in 1867 as the major road linking New England to the Coastal regions, but today draws adventurers seeking the unspoilt scenery of the Mann River. There are ample camping areas along the way, with picnic tables, fireplaces, firewood, and pit dunnies.
The cooling Mann River Nature Reserve is also nearby. Just down the road from the Mann River camping area is Tommy’s Lookout Fire Trail, a well-maintained track that climbs over 1000m in four kilometres. Don’t miss the hand-cut tunnel on your drive.
Why should Glen Innes win the Next Big Thing?
Glen Innes is a quirky town with a big sense of humour. We take our heritage seriously and love all things Celtic with a twist. This can be seen throughout the town, from the heritage buildings in the main street, to the quirky finds at the Land of the Beardies History House Museum and, of course, the Australian Standing Stones.
We’re also doing it tough with the drought, like a number of rural towns. Tourism is a big part of our economy and it helps our local businesses to stay alive in times of strain. Agriculture is our biggest earner and when the farmers aren’t spending, local businesses rely on tourists to bridge the gap. The Big Thing would give people another reason to stop in Glen Innes.
Think we should build the Big Kilt in Glen Innes? Cast your vote now for your chance to WIN $2000 towards your next Wotif holiday*.VOTE FOR AUSTRALIA’S NEXT BIG THING
*AU residents 18+ only. Ends 11.59am AEDT 9/10/18. Limit one entry/vote per person per valid email address. Full terms and how to enter via link. Permit NSW LTPS/18/27577.