Tenterfield, is a town, parish and Local Government Area (see Tenterfield Shire Council), in New South Wales, Australia. It is located in the New England region of northern New South Wales, at the intersection of the The New England and Bruxner Highways. Tenterfield is a 3 hour drive from Brisbane, 2.5 hours from Byron Bay, 2 hours from Armidale and 10 hours from Sydney. The town sits in a valley astride the Great Dividing Range. At the 2006 census, Tenterfield had a population of 3,172.
In 1841 Sir Stuart Donaldson was running 18,000 sheep on a property that he named Tenterfield Station, after a family home in Scotland. Donaldson was the first premier of NSW and made biannual trips to Tenterfield to inspect his holdings there, which covered of unfenced land. The township was gazetted in 1851 with allotments being sold in 1854. In 1858 gold was discovered at Drake (Fairfield) and shortly afterwards at Timbarra and Boonoo Boonoo. During 1859 an AJS Bank opened and an Anglican Church was built the following year. In the 1860s The Tenterfield Chronicle was published, the district court was established; the building of a hospital commenced and a public school was opened. In 1870 the population was less than 900, but the town had five hotels, a school of arts and three churches. The existing Tenterfield Post Office was constructed in 1881.
The railway opened to Tenterfield on 28 October 1884 and in 1886 to nearby Wallangarra on the Queensland border, connecting Sydney and Brisbane, with a break-of-gauge at Wallangarra. When the rail link to the Queensland border was completed, Sydney and Brisbane were linked by rail for the first time. The railway was subsequently bypassed by the fully standard gauge North Coast line between Sydney and Brisbane, completed in 1932. The Main North line is now closed north of Armidale and the Tenterfield railway station is now a museum.
Sir Henry Parkes delivered his Federation Speech here in the Tenterfield School of Arts on 24 October 1889. He was travelling from Brisbane to Sydney, via the new Main North railway. The speech is credited with re-igniting the debate that ultimately leading to Federation on 1 January 1901.
During World War II Tenterfield was earmarked as a key battleground if the Japanese should invade Australia. During 1942 thousands of soldiers were set up in emergency camps, unbeknown to the locals, to cope with such an event. Overgrown tanks traps and gun emplacements can still be seen on the Travelling Stock Route near the New England Highway. The highway was until the early 1950s the only all-weather road from Sydney to Brisbane.
Tenterfield's local newspaper is the Tenterfield Star.