There’s more to Mudgee than just eating and drinking – although there is a lot of that too.
Mudgee, home to the Wiradjuri nation, is set on the banks of the Cudgegong River with streetscapes that still retain much of the nineteenth-century architecture of its Colonial past. Its name is derived from a Wiradjuri term, Moothi, which means nest in the hills.
It’s also well known as one of the country’s best wine regions, but alongside its award-winning drops you’ll also discover enchanting nature experiences, a cultural hub of activities and plenty of memorable eats.
Here, find the best things to do in Mudgee.
Cycle your way through the wineries
Fresh air, country roads, an intense concentration of cellar doors – Mudgee is a mecca ready and waiting for wine lovers. Hop on a humble bicycle and explore some of the finest scenery and fecund food baskets in all of Australia.
The self-guided cellar door cycling tour will see you meander from vineyard to vineyard with relative ease. Indulge in a long lunch at Logan Wines, devour an Italian-style aperitivo board at First Ridge, sample the range of High Valley Cheese at The Cellar by Gilbert and go underground at Pieter Van Gant.
This one-day, self-guided tour by Tour de Vines is a great way to indulge in the region’s bounty of wine and produce. And don’t worry about the wobbly ride home – if you have one too many wines, there’s a support vehicle on hand.
Check out a full list of wineries and cellar doors in Mudgee here.
A serene ride in a hot air balloon is the perfect way to see Mudgee in all its glory. Set your alarm for an early start and meet at Parklands Resort on Ulan Road. Pile into the basket and ascend above one of the state’s most picturesque places.
The morning sky will reveal views of the iconic vineyards below, as well as the townships of Rylstone, Kandos, Hill End and more. The sunrise balloon flights are approximately one hour in duration and are followed by a delicious champagne breakfast back on land.
Visit the Drip Gorge
The Drip Walking Track, located within Goulburn River State Conservation Area, is a place of significance for the local Wiradjuri People. Fifty kilometres north of Mudgee, the 3.5-kilometre hike follows alongside the Goulburn River to the Great Dripping Wall. Rain water trickles through the porous rock face, creating a cool oasis which is usually 10 to 15-degrees cooler than the surrounding region on a hot day.
The rich diversity of plant life along the track is also one of its many marvels. Keep an eye out for native apple gums, tree violets (named for their scent) and rocky outcrops with orchids and moss. After your walk, cool down in the Goulburn River or marvel at ‘Hands on the Rock’ – the awe-inspiring rock site stencil made by the Wiradjuri people in Ulan.
Take in some opera
Mudgee is home to the oldest still-operating Opera House in the Southern Hemisphere. The Prince of Wales Opera House is its name, and it was built in 1871 by John Hart Cogden.
The riches of the goldfields allowed an early impresario to engage some of the most famous performers of the time. Interestingly, Henry Lawson’s first experience at a theatre was at The Prince of Wales Opera House to see a performance of ‘The Pirates of Penzance’.
The theatre closed in the 1960s and remained so until its current owners, Gulgong Amateur Musical and Dramatical Society, restored it to its former glory. There are normally several performances held at the Opera House each year, but this schedule has temporarily been put on hold due to current Covid restrictions. Keep an eye out for upcoming shows and stop by the Prince of Wales Hotel next door in the meantime for fabulous pub fare or use it as a base to explore Gulgong’s charming surrounds and bed down in the award-winning accommodation.
Take to the water
Diversify your food and wine trip to Mudgee by getting eye level with nature out on the water. Join a kayak tour or hire a paddleboard at Dunns Swamp with Southern Cross Kayaking to wind along the pristine Cudgegong River that cuts its way through the Wollemi National Park. Follow it up with a walk through the park to discover intricately-shaped rock faces and diverse wildlife waiting around every bend.
Mudgee’s only microbrewery is housed in a 100-year-old former wool store which was previously owned by the Anglican Church. Gary Leonard, a former coal miner, took ownership of the space in 2007 and transformed it into the thriving brewery it is today.
But how did it all begin? Like most good business ventures, as an idea shared with close mates over a few beers. Leonard immersed himself in the world of craft beers, intent on replicating the craft brewing revolution that was well underway in New Zealand here in Australia.
Recent history aside, you’ll find a rotating list of the latest beers brewed on site poured from the brew-pubs eight taps. Expect live music three nights a week and, unlike most breweries, this one goes the extra mile to offer table service. If you need a caffeine fix they also serve Fish River Roasters Coffee.
Finesse your cooking skills
Hone your culinary skills at The Little Cooking School. This informal, relaxed creative space offers casual cooking classes for the young and old – no matter your skill level. The class will take you through a three course menu that showcases the best regional produce before concluding with a lunch and selected local wines to match.
Owner Tamara has over 20 years of experience in the hospitality and commercial cooking industry, and is renowned for throwing a good dinner party. Prepare to leave with a full belly, some new recipes, tips and tricks, plus a few good stories as well.
Classes are friendly and inclusive, so don’t be apprehensive about coming alone. You can also book as a group or enquire about a private class.
Get your culture fix at Mudgee Art House
Mudgee Art House is a gallery/café hybrid located right in the heart of Mudgee’s main jaunt. It was established by local artists, Warwick and Toni Behrens, and serves as the perfect place to begin, process and complete all manner of creative works.
Stop by to view the latest exhibiting artists, peruse fine art supplies or participate in an engaging workshop. The space also offers a fine art to frame service for artists seeking professional imaging solutions that include fine art photography, Giclée on rag printing and archival framing.
It’s also the home of contemporary Australian Fauve painter WarBëhr, whose recognisable colourful animal paintings adorn the walls of many homes of the rich and famous. Come by to select your own original from the wall – and forget to pick up a superb coffee from the café.