February 16, 2023
5 mins Read
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Mudgee, home to tribes from the Wiradjuri Nation, feels far from the highway. You get a sense of space here, as the road from Sydney steadily gains elevation through the Blue Mountains before stretching into the broad Cudgegong Valley beyond.
Mudgee is memorable for many reasons. For starters, there are no traffic lights in the town centre, which means you can change down a few gears while exploring its charming main streets and broad boulevards, known for its Federation-style buildings.
Interest in the municipality of Mudgee is also high thanks to its collection of world-class wineries, quirky cellar doors, authentic farm-to-table eateries and five-star accommodation, all of which act like a beacon for gourmands.
The cafe culture in Mudgee is strong, and built around the premise that we all need to switch off. Starting the day with a two-hour breakfast that extends into lunch is perfectly okay. And having a glass of wine in the early afternoon is considered entirely appropriate.
While there might not be any traffic lights, you will want to come to a halt at Mudgee Corner Store, which is a hub in this small community and where you can pick up premium provisions for a picnic.
Alby & Esthers, located in an 1873 terrace in a cobblestoned corner of Mudgee, is also hugely popular for its jaffles.
Lowe Family Wine Co is one of the organic and biodynamic farms that sealed Mudgee’s reputation as a top spot for a short break. Pass the day here enjoying a charcuterie platter at the rustic cellar door, glass of wine in hand, or at The Zin House, known for its long paddock-to plate lunches with paired wines.
You can also taste the terroir at De Beaurepaire Wines in nearby Rylstone, where Richard de Beaurepaire channels his French ancestors with his approach to winemaking. Enjoy a tutored Tour de Vin tasting at the cellar door, which is housed in rustic 170-year-old stables.
Go deep and learn about Indigenous culture during a Warakirri Dining by Indigiearth degustation, led by pioneering local woman Sharon Winsor.
The former Mudgee Post Office is now Three Tails Brewery, the makeover of which includes the Smokin Bro & Co Smokehouse out back, a great enhancement to the town. Mudgee Brewing Co, in a 100-year-old building in the town centre, is also a must.
There’s a lot to do in Mudgee besides sipping on elegant wines, but of course that’s also a solid option. Get the lay of the land on a self-guided birdwatching tour of the Putta Bucca Wetlands, go hot-air ballooning over the landscape with Balloon Aloft or glide through the waters of the Ganguddy with Southern Cross Kayaking.
As well as strolling the shops and boutiques in the low-key main streets of Mudgee, you can cover more ground by hiring an e-bike from Ezyride Mudgee or go further afield on a Hop & Grape Trail with Country Escape Tours, which showcases the best beer, wine and spirits in the region.
Epicureans looking to upskill in the kitchen should sign up for a lesson at The Little Cooking School, which has a rotating roster of options ranging from pasta masterclasses to cannoli making workshops.
Pipeclay Pumphouse at Robert Stein Vineyard & Winery deserves special mention as a destination in its own right: don your best leather boots and prepare to fall hard for this restaurant known for its fine-dining menu paired with top drops that sing of NSW’s Central West.
While ‘I’m going on holiday to Mudgee’ was once shorthand for ‘I’m going away for the weekend to drink wine’, there are now seriously smart cabins and charming boutique accommodation that makes a weekend stay in Mudgee magical for teetotallers, too.
Prepare to do a few ‘boast posts’ on Instagram when you book a stay at the Riverlea Cottage, Riverlea Stables or The Wandering Grape, which are all beautifully realised retreats set in the town’s scenic surrounds.
See kangaroos grazing on the grounds at Strikes Mudgee, or go off-grid at Evamor Valley and Glenayr Farm where you can get the cellar door to come to you via Exclusively Mudgee.
The architect-designed Gawthorne’s Hut is also a go-to for an ‘Escape to the Country’. The boutique-y Perry Street Hotel, and Shed by Zin at Lowe Family Wine Co also make for a memorable stay in Mudgee.
Looking for something altogether more quirky? Wilgowrah Church, in the foothills of Mudgee, is a temple to well-thought-out heritage restoration. And if you want to see the grape-to-glass philosophy in full swing, book a stay at Yeates Wines, which is just minutes from Mudgee.
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