Rediscover Mudgee and countryside contentment
If Mudgee was a novel, its early pages would tell the story of a pretty bushland valley, accidentally discovered. Curious Bathurst pioneers heard from the local Aboriginals of a “fine country” which lay to the north. They were intrigued enough to send out a settler’s party and 500 cows. Flip back the pages even further and the Aboriginal people of the region already knew there was something special about their aptly named “nest in the hills”. Deriving also from the Wiradjuri term “mou-gee” meaning “contented”, nothing was lost in translation here. While this charming Aussie town is already firmly planted on the tourist map, there’s a lot of reasons to rediscover Mudgee and countryside contentment.
Peace, love and an olive branch
Almost hidden in the green rural fabric of Mullamuddy, there’s an olive grove just 10 minutes from the approach to Mudgee. Home to an elderly Greek couple who have lovingly planted 2,000 olive trees and 5,000 pomegranates, you know right away this is the real deal.
As Maria opened jars of fresh olives and dolloped pomegranate syrup on spoons for us to try, she talked of her families’ escape from their homeland in Cyprus in the Turkish War of 1974. What a road they have traversed, leaving everything behind in search of peace and opportunity in the most foreign of lands. I suspect in their olive grove they have found a little piece of the home they left behind. Aril Estate is open to the public 7 days, offering fresh seasonal produce and is renowned for its rich olive oils.
Under the harvest moon
Wineries and Cellar doors and have been opening in rural spots everywhere. Across the Blue Mountains in the Central Tablelands, the vineyards of Mudgee make for tasty competition to the famed Hunter Valley. While some were panning for gold, others were bottling it and by the close of the 19thcentury, Mudgee was home to 55 wineries. What’s interesting about winemaking in the region today, and a perfect way to rediscover Mudgee, is the shift to biodynamic, lunar and organic harvesting. It’s a bold move from the traditions of viticultural heritage of winemaking but then, so is their Merlot and Shiraz. Known for predominantly red varietals, family winemaking has characterised the mid-western wine region since the 1850’s .
Spend an easy afternoon wine-tasting while sampling rustic platters of locally grown produce overlooking the bush chapel at Lowes or follow the country road up the gentle slopes of Moothi. Or simply rediscover Mudgee at your own pace. The winding country roads will carry you across a patchwork of farmlands, past picture book amber haystacks and through abundant vineyards.
Any good old country town worth its salt will have a pub on every corner. The really inviting ones will have a Gin Bar too. Tucked away in the downstairs corner of the Oriental Hotel, the setting is quaint and the gin exceptional. Without doubt it was high competition between the elderflower and olive leaf extract for best gin of the evening. Further ahead in Mudgee is the Baker Williams Distillery, a micro distillery with macro flavour that savours a passion for handcrafted spirits capturing the zesty regional tastes. And yes, there’s also a pub on every Mudgee corner.
You could almost hear that singular guitar twang hang in the air; see the scuffed boots shuffling the red dust in the town of Wyatt Earp. That’s how western, Gulgong in Mid-Western NSW feels. The authors of Gulgong’s history are a mix of local Aboriginal people, early settlers and the rush of Chinese immigrants who came in search of gold. A quick thumb through the tales of Australia’s recent history and you’ll see what’s left behind is a township with over 130 heritage listed buildings and a gold rush legacy which yielded over 32 tons of gold in the 1870s. Today, the heritage skylines arch into a street trimmed with bakeries, coffee shops and eclectic bric-a-brac stores where local honey is sold alongside violins and vinyl records.