Great wine, fine food and fresh air await in the historic country towns of Mudgee and Orange in NSW’s Central West.
- Food festivals and events
- Arts and crafts Mudgee
- Vineyard cellar doors
- Farmers' markets
Dotted with heritage buildings and surrounded by vineyards, farmland and true Australiana scenery of gum trees, sandstone gorges and trickling creeks, it’s impossible not to be charmed by the regional towns of Mudgee and Orange. A two hour drive apart, and both about four hours from Sydney, they are known for their cool climate wines and, increasingly, fresh, seasonal produce. Lace up your hiking boots and get out and explore, or while away a weekend shopping, eating and drinking.
Where to eat
Stop by Di Lusso Estate winery, a few minutes’ drive north of Mudgee, to enjoy a long lunch at an outdoor table, feasting on woodfired pizzas cooked in the outdoor oven, before engaging in a round of bocce. Or, head to Mudgee’s Moothi Estate for a Ploughman’s Lunch Platter on the hilltop patio overlooking a valley of vines, with the owners’ dog Barney by your side. You can also dine on seasonal produce at Cellar by Gilbert. Visit on a Saturday for the “Food Over Fire” communal table lunch.
In the evening, the rustic Roth’s Wine Bar in Market St stocks more than 100 regional wines and has a tapas style menu and live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
In Orange, taste local wines and produce overlooking the vineyards and Mt Canobolas at Racine, or pay a visit to Bodhi Garden – a vegetarian restaurant, that's a hit with even the most die-hard of meat-eaters. At lunchtime, Bodhi Garden is an intimate and cosy dining space, come evening the venue transitions into a vibrant tapestry of Asian-style cuisine, conversation and (BYO) wine. Better yet, Members receive 20 percent off the total bill up to $25 at Bodhi Garden.
or head to Tonic at Millthorpe, a 20 minute drive out of town, to dine on the local seasonal menu offered by chef Tony Worland, who has worked with Matt Moran and Gordon Ramsay.
Where to play
Meander along the creek at The Drip Gorge, a 30 minute drive north of Mudgee, to see water drops falling from the top of the towering sandstone formation into the pools below. On the way, stop to admire paintings by Brett Whiteley on the rock opposite the natural archway. A few hundred metres further along Cassilis Road you’ll find much older art in the form of faded Aboriginal hand prints painted onto the rock.
Also about a 30 minute drive from Mudgee, Gulgong Pioneers Museum gives a fascinating insight into the time of early settlers. Housed in an old bakery and produce store, it has horse drawn carriages, an old schoolhouse and historic kitchen utensils, farming and mining equipment on display.
In Orange, order a gourmet picnic with homemade lemonade, chocolate brownies with fresh seasonal berries, and baguettes from Completely Hampered and head to Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area. You can do a two kilometre round trip hike from Federal Falls campground area to see the impressive waterfall. It’s also worth exploring the ancient limestone caves at Borenore Karst Conservation Reserve.
Where to shop
In the former railway station, Art and Crafts Mudgee is a cooperative gallery featuring the works of almost 30 local artists and artisans, while Whatever Mudgee sells homewares, leather goods, rugs, art, cowhide products, clothes, jewellery and hand and body products.
Mudgee Farmers Markets is held in the grounds of St Mary's Catholic Church on the third Saturday of each month, with stallholders selling everything from local honey to clothes. The Small Winemakers Centre, just outside town, is a great place to taste and buy wine from several vineyards in one stop.
In Orange, Worldly Treasures sells crystals, fossils, giftware and unique jewellery sourced from around the world. Cook Park Guildry, in historic Bastick Cottage, is an arts and crafts centre where you can buy handmade jam, cards, knitted products and pottery. The former Masonic hall is home to The Sonic, which opened in 2016 and includes three businesses – iglou, JUMBLED and Nimrods – selling clothes, homewares and coffee.
The Orange Farmers Market is also held on the second Saturday of every month from 8.30am to midday, at either Northcourt or the Showground, with around 60 stallholders offering their wares.
Where to stay
Situated just 1km from the centre of Mudgee, and set on 30 acres of land, Parklands Resort Mudgee offers a four star accommodation experience. A variety of room types are available from Standard Queen Rooms and Deluxe Rooms to One Bedroom Suites and Family Suites. All rooms have access to private balconies offering views of the manicured gardens and surrounding Mudgee Hills. Resort facilities include restaurant, indoor pool, spa and sauna, tennis court, gym, BBQ area, bike hire and free WIFI. Parklands Resort Mudgee also makes a great base to explore the nearby wineries. And don't forget, Members can save up to 20 percent on the best available room rate with late check out, as well as 10 percent off food and beverage at Parklands Resort Mudgee. Simply use the promo code: 'NRMA' when booking. *T&C's apply.
A 10 minute drive west of Orange, the five bedroom Black Sheep Inn Bed and Breakfast is in a converted shearing shed, or you can stay in the colourful two bedroom Whispering Moon Cottage, which is the former shearers’ quarters.
In town, De Russie Boutique Hotel has 25 self contained apartments ranging from studios to three bedroom family suites. For something more basic, stay in a log cabin with a fireplace at Canobolas Mountain Cabins.
Image credit: Destination NSW