Think of Mudgee in New South Wales’ Central West and you probably think of wine, thanks to the dozens of family-owned vineyards that ring the town – each with its own welcoming cellar door. But there’s so much more to this destination: beautiful farmland, fresh produce, fine foods, a flourishing art scene, and intriguing glimpses of Australian history. It won’t take you long to work out why this is one of the most popular places right now for a country short break.
Here’s how to spend 48 hours in Mudgee.
8am: Do breakfast at Alby & Esthers
Set the tone for your Mudgee visit with a delicious Local Breakfast Bowl at Alby & Esthers – a charming laneway café off Market Street. Choose an outdoor table on cobblestones under the grape vine trellis (a nod to Mudgee’s winemaking fame) or sit inside in the gallery, which showcases works by regional artists.
9am: Explore the heritage town centre
Armed with a CBD guide from the nearby Visitor Information Centre, set off to explore downtown Mudgee on foot. The heritage town centre doubles as a boutique shopping precinct, so you can appreciate the fabulous historic architecture while checking out unique lifestyle shops such as Mudgee Antiques, Mudgee Art House and Whatever Mudgee homewares. Need a coffee stop along the way? You’ll find your perfect brew at Café 89.
11am: Taste la dolce vita in a jar
The sweet life is literally yours for the sampling at Mudgee Honey Haven, just a short drive north of town. Dozens of honey flavours are available to taste and buy, along with honey-based drinks – both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Beeswax candles, natural skincare products, jams, nuts and oils are also available.
12noon: Learn about a legendary Australian writer
From the Honey Haven, continue along the Castlereagh Highway for another 20 minutes to reach the historic gold-mining town of Gulgong. Arrive in time to visit the Henry Lawson Centre, which closes at 1pm most days. This small, volunteer-run museum pays tribute to Lawson – Gulgong’s favourite son and one of nineteenth-century Australia’s greatest poets and storytellers.
1pm: Tickle your tastebuds with tapas
The Rusty Owl Wine and Tapas Bar in Gulgong (formerly known as the Bank Corner Wine and Gelato Bar) serves high quality meals in a vintage setting. Round off your lunch with an expertly made coffee or scrumptious gelato.
2pm: Step back in time
With its original nineteenth-century signs and shop fronts, Gulgong has one of the best-preserved heritage streetscapes in New South Wales. See it come to life in the UNESCO-listed 1870s photographs at the Holtermann Museum, housed behind the town’s iconic ‘Greatest Wonder of the World’ and ‘American Tobacco Warehouse’ storefronts. Make sure you also leave time for a ramble through the Gulgong Pioneers’ Museum – an extraordinarily eclectic collection of Australiana, which includes fascinating household, farming and industrial objects from the past two centuries.
6pm: Wine and dine
Once back in Mudgee, freshen up, then head out for an aperitif at Roth’s Wine Bar. Established in 1923, it’s one of the oldest venues of its kind in the state, and you can choose from a list of over 100 regional wines. Stay on for wood-fired pizza and tapas, or make your way to The Ori Kitchen for modern Australian cuisine and amazing desserts.
8am: Enjoy breakfast by the park
Enjoy breakfast in the courtyard setting of The Coffee House at Parkview. The menu includes breakfast nachos, prosciutto benedict, and French toast with bruleed bananas (that’s almost too pretty to eat!). Afterwards pop into nearby Robertson Park to admire the rose garden and picture-perfect vintage bandstand.
9.30am: Drive the Bylong Valley Way to Rylstone
It’s time for a tranquil morning country drive. Take the scenic route through Lue to tiny, picturesque Rylstone – a distance of just under 60 kilometres from Mudgee. The village, which dates from c.1820, is now a hub of artisan energy and retro vibes. Think handcrafted furniture, vintage clothing and vinyl record stores in a setting of tree-lined streets, historic stone buildings, and pretty community gardens.
12noon: Eat at a quintessential country pub
You can go one of two ways for lunch in Rylstone. Enjoy the country pub atmosphere of The Shed Bistro at the historic Globe Hotel, or opt for dumplings served under Chinese lanterns and red umbrellas in the garden of the 29 nine 99 Yum Cha and Tea House (named for the date its owners were married!).
1.30pm: Hit the vineyards
The main event of any visit to Mudgee, an afternoon in the vineyards is an experience to be savoured and never, ever, rushed. Returning from Rylstone, head straight to Rosby Wines, where the cellar door opens onto a unique sculpture garden. Make your next stop the Baker Williams Distillery, to sample coffee, butterscotch and lemon myrtle liqueurs while drinking in the far-reaching farmland views. Finally, head over to Lowe Family Wine Co for a pre-booked one-hour tasting at your own private table on the terrace overlooking the vineyards. As you listen to the stories behind each wine, watch the chickens scratching in the garden below and let your eyes rest on the hills in the distance. The stresses of your daily life will feel far, far, away.
7pm: Savour Italian-style flavours
Set in the unassuming surrounds of the Comfort Inn Aden Mudgee, Palate restaurant punches far above its weight in culinary terms and is a convenient, high-quality dining option for those staying in town. Consistently rated in the top five Mudgee restaurants, Palate serves Italian-style meals made from seasonal local ingredients. The extensive wine list does justice to the diversity of Mudgee’s vintages.
Need a place to stay?
Located on the approach into town for those travelling by road from Sydney, Comfort Inn Aden Mudgee is the perfect accommodation option for your Mudgee getaway. Choose from a range of comfortable room types, all of which include complimentary Netflix. Work off those gourmet indulgences with free entry to Anytime Fitness.
About the writer
Roslyn Jolly is a freelance travel writer whose work has appeared in Luxury Travel, Get Up & Go, The Sunday Telegraph and The Australian. In her former career as an English Literature academic, she studied and taught the work of great travel writers, such as Henry James, Herman Melville and Robert Louis Stevenson, and became fascinated by the history of travel and tourism. Two years at school in Wales and three years at university in England allowed her to travel extensively in Europe and North America, which she continues to do.