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Nundle, Australia Hotel Roundup

Australia has great beaches, deserts, and cities, but not a lot in the way of charming villages. Some 250 miles north of Sydney, Nundle (population: 200; streets: two) is the exception. The town, whose last glory days came during the 1850's gold rush, is suddenly being populated by hip urbanites seeking inspiration in the nurturing countryside. Cattle station owners Peter and Judy Howarth were the ones who realized Nundle's potential and became determined not to let it die. When the only bank closed in 1994, the couple bought the building and converted it into the five-room Jenkins Street Guesthouse (85 Jenkins St.; 61-2/6769-3239; www.nundle.info; doubles from $78), with slate-lined bathrooms and a bistro run by chef and master picnic-maker David Griffiths. Their latest venture is the Nundle Woollen Mill (1 Oakenville St.; 61-2/6769-3330), which weaves merino wool into bespoke fabrics and sells hand-knit clothing from local label Minx. The Howarths are also rebuilding the general store, soon to house a bakery and a café. Other attractions in town include Odgers & McClelland Exchange Stores (81 Jenkins St.; 61-2/6769-3233), a stylish gallery space; Peel Inn Hotel (89 Jenkins St.; 61-2/6769-3377), where you can have a cool "schooner," the Aussie term for a large beer; and the Mount Mystery Mine (Oakenville St.; 61-2/6769-3372), a museum that recounts the area's history. But Nundle's best attraction is its lost-in-time atmosphere, where a thirsty dog and a beaten-up ute (pickup truck) may be downtown's only traffic.

Getting There From Sydney, Nundle is about a five-hour drive north on the New England Highway. You can also fly into Tamworth (Australia's country music capital) and drive 45 minutes south on Nundle Road. —Maggie Alderson

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