The Tamworth region has been recognised for a whole range of achievements, industries and attractions over time. 

It was the Kamilaroi people – one of the four largest indigenous nations in Australia – who first inhabited the area and have for thousands of years. Glimpses of that incredible history is recorded in rock art preserved across the region, and the Gamilaraay language can be recognised today in place names including Barraba (“a place of many yellow jacket or box trees”), Manilla (“winding river”), Calala (“a place of battle” or “a winding river”) and Goonoo Goonoo (“running water over rocks in times of drought”).

In 1818, John Oxley and his exploration party were the first European visitors to the Peel Valley. Since that time, the Tamworth region has become the home of over 60,000 people and is a thriving economic and cultural hub for North Western NSW.

Tamworth History

We couldn’t possibly fit it all in, so here are a few highlights to get you started!


  • The Kamilaroi people first inhabited the area, and have for tens of thousands of years.  Their incredible history is preserved in rock art across the region and told through story.


  • John Oxley and his exploration party were the first European visitors to the Peel Valley. Oxley was instrumental in encouraging settlement, saying, “No place in this world can afford more advantages to the industrious settler than this extensive vale”.
  • Settlement progressed under the Australian Agricultural Company (AAC).


  • In the mid-1830s, the AAC gained approval to use the name ‘Tamworth’ for the town to be developed along the Peel River. The name came from the town of Tamworth in England, home of Sir Robert Peel, after whom the river was named.
  • Tamworth appeared on the map in 1837.

1900 - 1910

  • By 1901, Tamworth was a progressive rural town with two major industries: milling and brewing.
  • In 1909, the mandatory reclamation of 100,000 acres of the Goonoo Goonoo run occurred which made way for the creation of 250 new farms and further development.
  • In 1910, the first daily newspaper, the Tamworth Daily Observer, was created after a deal was struck between the city’s two existing mastheads.

1946 - 1961

  • The post-war recovery saw Tamworth depend heavily on its flour mill and starch factory.
  • East West Airlines began twice-daily services to Sydney from the old Tamworth aerodrome.
  • The first motels were established during this time.

1960s and 1970s

  • The 1960s and 1970s were when Tamworth developed into a significant regional centre – a status it retains today.


  • Tourism took off in the 1980s, built largely around the Tamworth Country Music Festival, which had started in 1973.