Road trip: Long weekend in central NSW towns

Gulgong Pioneers Museum Long Weekend in Central NSW my nrma road trips
Gulgong Pioneers Museum Long Weekend in Central NSW my nrma road trips

Trip Summary 
Duration: 2 days
Distance: 277km

Family friendly – Food and drink – Sightseeing
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Go on a walking tour – Gulgong Gold Experience – Visit Eltons
Eating + Drinking

Member benefits
Parkland Resort Mudgee

These communities have been impacted by bushfire, drought and lockdown restrictions. Please check the status of roads and places you plan to visit before setting off.

The treasures to be discovered in central NSW’s colonial mining towns are not just those hidden underground.

Take advantage of the wide range of tastes and sounds on offer as you travel through Central NSW. Whether you're a foodie or prefer to explore the old mining towns, there's something for everyone on offer.

Image credit: Destination NSW

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Day 1: Lucknow to Mudgee

Stop 1: Visit Lucknow mining town

A mining town with a most appropriate name: Lucknow, it’s home to the Wentworth Mine, one of the best-preserved mining concerns to be found anywhere in the state. Gold was discovered in Lucknow soon after the first strike in Ophir and the Wentworth Mine remained a going concern on and off until the 1950s. In recent years, however, its buildings and equipment have become a successful tourist drawcard.

Stop 2: See Gulgong

Continue on to Gulgong, a town just north of Mudgee. Henry Lawson, never one to dwell on the brighter side, described Gulgong as “a wretched remnant of a town on an abandoned goldfield”. Perhaps he was right at the time, but these days it’s a vibrant little place.

The irony of Henry Lawson’s comment on the place is that those in the know believe a great deal of Gulgong’s glistering riches still remain in the earth – they just happen to be under the town itself. The new Gulgong Gold Experience on Red Hill offers an audio-visual history of the town. The plan was to create a replica mineshaft that met up with the real shaft, but an unexpectedly high water table halted construction. So it’s still a work in progress, but there are photographs from Gulgong’s heyday during the 1870s gold rush, and pointers to other restoration projects.

A must-see is the Gulgong Pioneers Museum. It looks modest from the outside but once you’re inside one room leads to another in a seemingly endless warren of Australian history and artefacts. There’s almost nothing it doesn’t touch upon – everything from stationary engines to firearms and computers (even the Amiga 500 I had as a teenager, which now qualifies as an ‘antique’).

Gulgong Pioneers Museum Long Weekend in Central NSW my nrma road trips
Pioneers Museum, Gulgong (Photo credit: Amber Hooper)
Stop 3: Enjoy a rest at Owl Head Lodge

A nondescript frontage conceals this spacious accommodation, which features vaulted ceilings, a huge bathroom, comfy beds and a backyard where an energetic three-year-old can stretch her legs. Owl Head Lodge is also in walking distance from just about everything in Gulgong.

Day 2: Mudgee to Hill End

1hr 7min | 75km

Stop 1: Visit Mudgee

Mudgee is a small town known for it's colonial buildings, and wineries surrounding. Ensure you your day with a visit to Eltons Eating + Drinking and the Robert Oatley Vineyards. Eltons is set in a heritage building and has been a favourite destination for locals and tourists since it closed in 2014. After reopening later that year, it continues to be the place to go! The cellar door here, ‘Craigmoor’, was founded in 1858 and is the oldest winery in the region.

Eltons Eating and Drinking Long Weekend in Central NSW my nrma road trips
Eltons Eating + Drinking (Photo credit: Destination NSW)
Stop 2: Butcher Shop Cafe 

This former butchery has been converted into a comfortable and inviting café called The Butcher Shop Cafe. Offering a friendly service and high quality food, it's a great place to stop for lunch.

Butcher Shop Cafe Mudgee Long Weekend in Central NSW my nrma road trips
Butcher Shop Cafe, Mudgee (Photo credit: Destination NSW)
Stop 3: Explore Hill End on a Walking Tour

Go on a walking tour of the town’s buildings; many are still businesses or residences but, since 1968, the centre of the village has been an historic precinct under the care of the National Parks. Hill End is said to have had “the richest quarter mile in the world” during the 19th century gold rush. The world-renowned 286kg ‘Holtermann Nugget’ was pulled out of the ground here and there is still a professional mining concern near Bald Hill Lookout. One of the better known gold panning spots is along Golden Gully.

Golden Gully has also inspired artists over the years. Its orange earth has the texture of a termite mound and rises from the creek bed like the walls of a canyon, providing a sharp contrast to the sky blue and leaf green backdrop. Natural arches over the creek bed give it further architecture, and it’s pocked with ‘drives’, which are narrow, claustrophobic shafts where miners would seek their fortunes.

Hill end Long Weekend in Central NSW my nrma road trips
Hill End Post Office (Photo credit: Destination NSW)
Stop 4: Mudgee Brewing

Take a visit to Mudgee Brewing Company, a microbrewery and restaurant located in the town, featuring exposed brick and rafters, and a comprehensive menu.

Stop 5: Stay at Parklands Resort Mudgee

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.

Or if you prefer to stay in Hill End, secreted away on the aptly named High Street, the Hill End Holiday Ranch has both cabins and re-purposed train carriages that serve as accommodation. Kangaroos abound morning and night and there are a number of campfires where guests can gather for a chat in the evening.

Hill End Ranch Long Weekend in Central NSW my nrma road trips
Hill End Holiday Ranch


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