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SportUNE, the University of New England’s state-of-the-art facilities including a gym, climbing wall, pool, playing ﬁelds and tennis and squash courts, is open to visitors and the wider community seven days a week. It was here, in 2011, that many of the over 1000 university and TAFE students from Queensland, Northern Territory and northern New South Wales competed in events for the Northern University Games.
Elite athletes from all over Australia often come to train at SportUNE and many share their expertise with the locals while they’re here. For example, when the Parramatta Eels checked in recently for a pre-season training session, the team also ran a coaching clinic for youngsters.
The local hockey competition attracts a crowd of young (and older) players who, even during extreme winter conditions, such as sleet and driving rain, play on thanks to the campus’ top-notch synthetic ﬁelds. Seasonal cricket, football, netball, rugby and tennis are also popular with all ages, with competition games typically held on Saturdays and casual games on the go at other times.
You don’t have to be Tiger Woods to tee off at the picturesque golf courses in Armidale, Walcha, Uralla and Guyra and on a glorious day there’s really no better place for a visiting golf enthusiast to be. At the Armidale Golf Club, for instance, everyone is welcome to play social or competition rounds on the magnificent 18-hole championship course surrounded by native bushland. This course, with 25 bunkers protecting the greens, is a challenge for all golfers. The friendly 18-hole course at Uralla is beautifully presented and the sand greens at Walcha are renowned as among the best in the region. Collectively these courses offer a great experience for golfers of all standards.
Out in the gorges and national parks, hiking, rock climbing and abseiling expeditions range from easy to difficult, and kayaking down the rivers can be a wild ride, particularly after heavy rains. If calmer waters are more your thing, then you’ll find Dumaresq Dam is a peaceful spot to paddle, or head to Malpas Dam, home to the New England Sailing Club and where locals race sailboats on Sundays during summer.