Classic road trip series: Central New South Wales Wine Trail from Sydney

Central New South Wales has many diverse attractions, not least of all a fabulous cool climate wine scene.

A road trip from Sydney to Bathurst, Cowra and Orange not only provides the freedom of travelling where and when you want, but also the ability to bring your wine discoveries home – where you can enjoy them at your leisure for weeks to come. There’s plenty to see, do and taste throughout the region, so let’s hit the road!

Blue Mountains (100 kilometres)

To get to the central winelands, you’ll first have to cross the Blue Mountains. They’re home to some of Australia’s most amazing views, so make a stop in Katoomba and gaze out over the Katoomba Falls, Three Sisters rock formation and Jamison Valley from the soaring Scenic Skyway at Scenic World. Head back up towards the town centre for lunch at celebrated Pins on Lurline. This fine dining restaurant serves a degustation menu and optional wine pairing. The wine list features several options from the region you’re about to explore.

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Need a place to stay?

Get an early start for your day in the Blue Mountains by basing yourself at the Quality Inn Penrith – which is located at the foot of the range. The drive from there to Katoomba will take less than an hour.

Ride the Scenic Skyway. Image: Destination NSW

Bathurst (98 kilometres)

It’s a 1.5 hour drive from Katoomba to Bathurst – probably best known for its iconic motor race, the Bathurst 1000. But more than this, Bathurst is a city with a rich history. It was Australia’s first inland European settlement and home to the country’s first gold discovery. It was also where the first grape vines were planted, and with four distinct seasons, a cool climate, basalt soils and a high elevation, the region is perfect for producing wine. Today Bathurst has a number of small family-run wineries, along with boutique spirit distillers and craft breweries. While winery cellar doors like Renzaglia and Vale Creek can be visited by prior arrangement, shortcut the journey at Vine & Tap in town, where you can taste a variety of local drops in one convenient location. The National Cool Climate Wine Show is held in Bathurst annually.

Need a place to stay?

Quality Hotel Bathurst has 50 stylish rooms and an inhouse restaurant that serves modern Australian cuisine. Free Wi-Fi is available to all guests. Relax in the indoor heated pool, spa and sauna.

Explore the winelands around Bathurst. Image: iStock

Cowra (108 kilometres)

South-west of Bathurst, Cowra is a peaceful town with a troubled past. On a gentle slope overlooking the town, an estimated 1,000 Japanese soldiers attempted to escape from a prisoner of war camp during World War II. Two hundred and thirty one were killed, along with four Australian soldiers. It’s moving to visit the joint burial sites in nearby Doncaster Drive. This is Australia’s only Japanese war cemetery, and across town the popular Cowra Japanese Garden is a powerful symbol of reconciliation between Japan and Australia.

Today, visitors to Cowra seek not only to learn about its history but also to further their enjoyment of food and wine. With warm days, cool nights and good rainfall, the area’s winemakers have embraced natural winemaking methods and trends. Seventy-five per cent of local wineries are certified as organic. You can find a list of cellar doors on the Cowra Tourism website. Alternatively, doing the popular Wine and Forage Tour offers a care-free taste of the region’s best wines. You’ll also meet a variety of artisanal food producers at their farm gates.

Need a place to stay?

Econo Lodge Alabaster is conveniently located on the approach into Cowra from Bathurst and offers well-appointed rooms and an inground pool.

Visit Rosnay Organic Wines from Cowra. Image: Destination NSW

Orange (92 kilometres)

Orange is increasingly on the domestic tourism radar for its stunning landscapes, fascinating pioneer history, and dynamic food and wine scene. Cobb & Co once carried the mail down these wide shaded streets lined with elegant 19th century buildings, and from farm gates and winery cellar doors to smart cafés and hatted restaurants, the town has a vibrant culinary culture. Pop in for a meal at The Agrestic Grocer on the outskirts of town: you’ll soon work out why Orange is known as the ‘food bowl’ of New South Wales!

Ferment – The Orange Wine Centre and Store. Image: Destination NSW

The extinct Mount Canobolas volcano brings a Bordeaux-like climate to the region, and Orange is well regarded for its cool climate vintages – which draw on the elevation, volcanic basalt soils and sustainable viticulture practices. James Halliday describes the wines of this area as having ‘elegance and fine-boned intensity across all styles’. Visit some of the thirty local cellar doors or shortcut the process at Ferment – The Orange Wine Centre and Store.

Need a place to stay?

Quality Hotel Bathurst is just a 40 minute drive from Orange and will position you perfectly for the return drive to Sydney. Alternatively, you might like to journey on to Parkes (60 minutes) – home to the famous ‘Dish’. Comfort Inn Bushman’s offers comfortable colonial-style accommodation just north of the Parkes town centre, and guests can enjoy the outdoor saltwater pool.

About the writer

Marj Osborne has been reviewing restaurants for over 20 years, formerly for Mietta’s Eating and Drinking in Australia, and more recently for her own blog — Good Food Gold Coast. Her work has also been published in Cafe Culture, Cove Magazine, the Gold Coast Bulletin and Blank Gold Coast. A researcher, teacher-librarian and former hospitality educator trained in vegetarian cooking and wine appreciation, Marj believes in positive living and thinking, and spending time enriching the body, mind and soul.

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