NRL fans are in for a treat when two of the most exciting matches on the 2016 Rugby League representative calendar are hosted in regional NSW across one glorious weekend from 6-8 May, offering the perfect opportunity to grab a group of friends for a weekend footy road trip.
Kicking off a mere 48 hours apart, NRL fans can watch Australia v New Zealand on Friday in Newcastle, before hitting the highway for some great regional NSW experiences and arriving in Tamworth ahead of Sunday afternoon’s City v Country clash.
Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer, Sandra Chipchase, encourages fans planning on travelling to attend either of the NRL representative matches in regional NSW to consider taking in both games and making a great weekend of it.
“NSW is the home of rugby league and this rugby league feast is a great opportunity for fans to get their footy fix with two stand-out representative matches scheduled on the same weekend, both in Regional NSW locations, only a short drive away from one another.
“NRL fans and their friends or family can make the most of this bumper weekend of first class football by planning a weekend road trip from Newcastle to Tamworth, making stops to enjoy Regional NSW,” Ms Chipchase said.
Hotels, restaurants, retailers and attractions in Newcastle and Tamworth are already preparing for the increase in visitors ahead of these key rugby league representative matches. Fans are encouraged to get their tickets and book accommodation early.
To assist fans considering attending both games, here is a suggested weekend road trip itinerary, travelling from Newcastle to Tamworth over Friday May 6 to Sunday May 8:
Digital Image Grant Trouville © nrlphotos.com : AUS Fans : NRL Rugby League ANZAC TEST MATCH – Australia v New Zealand at Sydney Football Stadium, Friday the 2nd of May 2014.
DAY 1 – Friday, May 6 (Newcastle)
- Set off for Newcastle with the aim of arriving early afternoon. There will undoubtedly be a great buzz in the air with the Australia v New Zealand Trans-Tasman Test in town so make the most of the atmosphere
- On arrival, head straight to your accommodation to drop off your things and get ready for the big game. There are lots of great options for travelling groups within close proximity to Hunter Stadium. Check out the Quality Suites Boulevard on Beaumont (2.1km from stadium),Quest Newcastle Apartments (3.8km from stadium) or the Crowne Plaza Newcastle (4.4km from stadium). It’s a good idea to book early as hotels, motels and apartments will fill up quickly
- Late afternoon, at around 4pm grab the boys and head to one of the local pubs for pre-match food and drinks. Newcastle is packed with great bars and pubs with the Star Hotel, an institution in Newcastle, The Edwards, FogHorn Brewhouse or The Lucky Hotel perfect for footy fans to meet ahead of a big game
- It’s 6:30pm and after a good feed, it’s time to make your way to Hunter Stadium. The Australia v New Zealand Trans-Tasman Test kicks off at 7:50pm but allow yourself plenty of time to get there as you and thousands of other fans will all be heading to the same location. This match is set to be a thriller with Mal Meninga making his debut as coach of the Kangaroos!
- With the match due to wrap up at approximately 10:20pm, make your way back to your accommodation, hopefully basking in the glow of an Aussie win, for a good night sleep.
DAY 2 – Saturday, May 7 (Newcastle, Hunter Valley)
- Nothing aids a post-match debrief like a big breakfast. After checking out of your accommodation, head down towards Newcastle Beach and to Estabar Cafe. Grab a coffee and an Estabar breakfast favourite such as the avocado and Hunterbelle fetta and lemon served with toasted sourdough, or the scrambled open-range Papanui eggs. Sit back and soak in the fresh sea air
- After breakfast, load up the car and head towards the Hunter Valley just 68kms or an hour away. The Hunter is a playground of activities, experiences and establishments so there are a lot of options to make the most of the day with your mates. Consider heading to the Hunter Distillery for a top shelf spirits tasting or head straight to the Matilda Bay Brewhouse for lunch. Get the sampler paddle with six different brews and play a game of pool, or just relax under the outdoor enormous sail. There are also a number of world-class golf coursesin the Hunter Valley where you can take in a quick 9-holes such as Cypress Lakes Golf and Country Club
- After a busy day, pull up stumps at Harrigan’s Irish Pub and Accommodation for the night. With a sports bar and bistro onsite it’s the perfect place to relax, unwind and set yourself up to watch NRL’s Super Saturday of football while you enjoy classic pub-grub with your mates.
DAY 3 – Sunday, May 8 (Hunter Valley, Scone and Tamworth)
- It’s game day so making your way towards Tamworth for this afternoon’s City vs. Country match is priority. Check out of your accommodation by 8:00am and make your way onto the New England Highway heading towards Scone, approximately 70km, or an hour and five minutes’ drive through Muswellbrook. On arrival in Scone, make a beeline for Crowded House Café on Kelly Street to get your coffee fix and a great brunch
- The journey to Tamworth from Scone is 132km and should take a little over an hour and a half, passing through a number of great NSW regional towns including Murrurundi and Willow Tree
- Tamworth is the capital of country music so ahead of the game head to The Country Music Hall of Fame. Head through the Walk a Country Mile exhibit featuring an unmatched collection of memorabilia from Australian Country music artists including clothing, musical instruments and other collectibles from the earliest pioneers of Australian country music such as Smoky Dawson, Buddy Williams, Tex Morton June Holms, Shirley Thoms right through to current artists Beccy Cole, Adam Harvey, Amber Lawrence and more
- Come 2:30pm head five minutes down the road by car towards Scully Park, West Tamworth for the final match of this epic footy road trip, City v Country. Kicking off at 4:00pm the City v Country clash is sure to be a shop-stopper as coaches Brad Fittler and Craig Fitzgibbon showcase squads filled with NRL stars pushing their claims for a NSW State of Origin game one position
- After the final siren has sounded, stay the night in Tamworth with accommodation at the Quality Hotel Powerhouse. As the match wraps up at approximately 6:00pm there is also the option to finish up the weekend road trip and head back home, ready for Monday morning and the week ahead!
If you’re planning to travel from interstate to attend either match, flights arrive in to Newcastle Airport through Jetstar, Rex and Virgin Australia and into Tamworth Regional Airport through Qantas, Jetgo Australia and Virgin Australia.
More information on where to stay and what to do in NSW including major events happening can found at www.visitnsw.com.