Driving over the grassy ridge into Mudgee, you can see why the name of the area is derived from the traditional Wiradjuri term ‘Moothi’ which means ‘nest in the hills.’
The sophisticated Aussie wine region is already a household name to foodies in Australia. A refined country town with rich pastoral history means cafes, restaurants and markets are booming with local produce.
Just 3.5 hour’s drive from Sydney, it’s a perfect city break for professionals and a foolproof plan for when you have visitors in town who want to see the quintessential Aussie country scape.
Here is our program of paddock-to-plate food, panoramic wineries and things to do in Mudgee Region:
Eat: Mudgee Region is bottomless when it comes to yummy food. While homemade pies and hearty pub meals are certainly still on the agenda, local chefs and vendors are showing off a sophisticated side to Mudgee’s culinary offering. Here are the must-dos:
A rustic homestead perched on the side of a reed-lined lake, Pipeclay is the luxury degustation in the vines that’ll have you talking about the food long after the 10-courses have ended.
Standouts are the pillowy puffs of sautéed gnocchi and slow-cooked lamb and mushroom ragu. The intricately composed board of charcuterie featuring house-made pork rillette, duck liver parfait, onion jam, salami, and pork terrine is also a winner for those who love a French paté. At $120 for eight courses with matching Robert Stein wines, it’s a steal compared to Sydney degustation prices.
Artisan on Lewis
The best breakfast spot in town. Simon and the girls pour a certain kind of energy into their trade that oozes local knowledge and friendliness.
Part art gallery, part local concept store featuring jewelry, home-made chutneys and treats combined with part cafe, it’s an ideal nook for coffee and a slice of cake straight out of the oven. Sit in the leafy courtyard for homestyle baked beans with a perfectly cooked poached egg and locally-made bread bursting with grain and seed. Simon uses all locally-sourced produce so the taste of Mudgee is guaranteed.
The Coffee House at Parkview
Staying on the matter of breakfast – a quality laté and a huge stack of pancakes covered in local caramelised hazelnuts and pistachios at The Coffee House will line your stomach for the winery tours. Dishes like crumbed portobello mushrooms with Napoli sauce, spinach, grilled halloumi, free-range eggs and dukkah bring out the best of the local produce on offer. My favourite is the house-made zucchini, asparagus and feta loaf with smoked salmon, dill sour cream, tomato salsa and avocado.
Alby + Esthers
Leafy courtyards seem to be a common theme in Mudgee and the fanciful outdoor garden at Alby + Esthers is our pick for Negronis and a wheel of baked brie. It’s bang in the middle of town and serves small-town charm and friendly service.
Panoramic views of the family-owned, organic winery is perfectly paired with CEO David Lowe’s passionately curated tasting list and the best grazing boards in the region. Think housemade relish and dukkah, marinated Alto olives, High Valley feta, farm-picked organic greens – served with fresh sourdough bread and seasonal fruit from the property.
Mudgee Brewing Co.
The signature craft beers on offer aren’t the only impressive thing about Mudgee Brewing Co. They serve a giant piece of fried pork crackling – peppered in a tasty seasoning. The holy grail of bar snacks.
Prince of Wales Hotel
Crumbed lamb cutlets is an Aussie pub classic that seems to be a rarity on bistro menus these days, but at Gulgong’s historic Prince of Wales Hotel, it’s one of their most popular dishes, and it’s delicious. The burgers are like the old-school servo offerings and will take you back to a childhood of road trips and hearty pub lunches. Iconic.
Mudgee Honey Haven
Wine tastings might reign supreme for us who love a fine drop, but adults and kids alike will appreciate the tasting table of local honey at Mudgee Honey Haven. Try the homemade ice cream – somehow more like a frozen honey custard pudding and more delicious than any gelato.
Roth’s Wine bar
You may think trendy wine bars originated in big cities, but Roth’s Wine Bar in Mudgee has been going since 1923. There’s a real neighbourly vibe at Roth’s so sit at the bar and yarn to the locals over a couple of craft beers. You’ll come for the woodfire pizzas but you’ll stay for the live music and atmosphere.
On the main drag of the quaint town of Rylstone is a traditional dumpling house that would make the most iconic of Chinatown Yum Cha joints blush with pride.
Owner Na Lan named the now-famous dumpling place after her wedding date. If 29Nine99 was built with love, it’s not hard to tell.
Plates of the steamed luminous cushions are rushed out to locals and visitors (prices are from $1.40 a piece!) and the pan-fried versions are made from Na Lan’s mother’s recipe from China’s Shaanxi province. Perfection.
The Oriental Hotel
Massive menu with pub classics – including a giant ribeye on the bone. Quick service, fun vibe and perfect for families.
Drink: With more than 40 family-owned cellars to get you sipping and swirling, a full-day winery tour with Mudgee Explorer Tours will make sure you have the highlights covered. If you’re after a more intimate experience you can always pick one or two, and spend the day on the property, taking in the ambiance.
De Beaurepaire Wines
Some say the best winery in the region. Why? This family-owned vineyard produces French-style wines handcrafted from selected parcels of grapes sourced from the property only. The high diurnal temperature range of Rylstone combined with the soil structure makes the region similar to French wine country in Burgundy and Champagne.
The tasting is run by a member of the De Beaurepaire family in a charming mid-nineteenth century building.
Recently awarded Winestate Magazine’s prestigious ‘Wine of the Year for their 2016 ‘Couer d’Or’ Botrytis Semillon, you’ll feel like you’re amongst wine legends when chatting to Richard and his daughter Amanda about the family’s Burgundian heritage.
After a thorough tasting and education, it’s all about enjoying a regional cheeseboard under a shady tree, you can even bring your pooch!
Robert Oatley Vineyards
Home to some of Australia’s oldest (and newest) wines. The property, formerly known as Poet’s Corner, hosts a music festival annually and has a mini wine museum on-site.
Baker Williams Distillery
Mudgee is the third largest grape-making region in NSW but it also boats some serious gin. Located at Vinifera Wines cellar door (they do a great Tempranillo mix), is a distillery serving micro batch spirits known for its rich butterscotch schnapps, five times distilled wheat vodka and, of course, flavoured gin that packs a punch.
Do: It’s not all eating and drinking in Mudgee. This is a region where you can get in touch with central New South Wales’ land and history …
Glide the stable waters of the Cudgegong River in the Ganguddy area with Southern Cross Kayaking. The peaceful sounds of nature will have you forgetting all about the tapping of keyboards back in the office.
Mudgee’s artisan vibes don’t end at the food. There’s plenty of local boutiques and furniture stores hocking everything from scented candles, cow hides, to jewelry and leather goods. Try Whatever for homewares, Edited + Co for clothes, Mainly Mudgee for souvenirs and Loft for more homewares.
Step back in time to the curious-but-charming heritage town of Gulgong. If settlers from the gold rush of 1872 visited the gloriously preserved Pioneer’s Museum today, it’s safe to presume they’d still think they were in colonial times.
There are 6000 acres of Turon Gates to explore but a horse ride up the river will have you feeling like the Man From Snowy River.
From heritage streetscape to sunsets against the Aussie bush, Mudgee region is an aesthetically pleasing backdrop to one of Australia’s most-satisfying getaways. You don’t need a beach to escape the city this summer – who’d have thunk?!
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