Having grown up in Orange, our weekends were often spent driving to regional towns, but it had been some time since we took a roadtrip. With some friends, we decided to spend a week doing two of our favourite things – wine tasting & hiking.
We drove via the Bells line over the mountains, and this gave us the chance to witness the devastation of the January fires and the intensity of the heat. We pottered with a couple of stops, make sure you spend some time for a stroll at Mt Tomah Botanical Gardens, and for a more challenging walk, head further along to Mt Banks for a quick hike with views over the Grose Valley.
Our first stop in Mudgee was one of my favourites, Logan Wines. This winery is on the way into Mudgee, so the perfect place to start, and with a tasting room nestled into the hill, I can imagine this spot when the weather is warmer and the outdoor seating has kicked in. Oh – and you can stock up on bubbles for your next couple of days…
We ventured to a number of other spots on our second day. Another favourite, Lowes is fabulous for lunchtime, the sunshine, outdoors, huge range to DIY platters – and after your tasting you can walk around the property and relax.
There are no shortages of quality pubs for dinner in Mudgee, book in advance, and hoe into hearty, country meals. We love at the moment that wine tastings need to be booked in advance and are seated, as the experience is more relaxed and informative. The tasting experiences at Mudgee were amazing, and the wines excellent value for money compared to other regions.
What I love about regional travel, is that you discover little gems that you weren’t expecting. On our drive from Mudgee to Coonabarabran, we had a stop in Dunedoo. There we met Peter Mortimer, who has been commissioned to paint the silos with the local jockey Hugh Bowman, with the Randwick favourite Winx. He is passionate about his work, and bringing the story to life on this huge canvass.
These silos are dotted all over NSW, and they tell the story of the town you are visiting. We also stopped at Merriwa on the way home, and learnt about the sheep in red merino socks. This could be a whole trip by itself!
And if you are in Dundeoo, pop in and see the ladies at the White Rose Cafe for a chat.
To visit the majestic Warrumbungles, we made Coonabarabran our base. We stayed in town, and our regular stops were the bakery for coffee and classic fresh finger buns each day, and we couldn’t go past the Thursday night $12 schnity night & a schooner at the Imperial Hotel. We stayed in an Airbnb, and every afternoon enjoyed the sun on the verandah, with wine after our hiking days.
The Warrumbungles National Park is a 30 minute drive from Coonabarabran. This volcanic park is packed full of rock formations that continue to surprise you as you hike through them. The best walk, the Breadknife and Grand High Tops Walk, is one of the best in Australia. There’s a lot of climbing up, but the views are worth every bit of the effort. If your legs have the energy, also tack on the sidetrip up Bluff Mountain, we made this our lunch stop, and watched two eagles circling in the thermals.
Another great walk is the Split Rock circuit, and the optional scramble to the summit rewards you with 360 degree views.
This region is also know as the dark sky national park, and Siding Springs is located just up the road. We were unable to do a full tour, but called into the visitors centre and also looked at one of the telescopes. It’s incredible the work that is being done, with options now also for remote operations of the telescopes.
If you want to learn more about the night sky, we can highly recommend a visit with Donna Burton at Milroy Observatory. We spent Friday night on one of her tours, and learnt more about stars, planets and the sky than I ever remember at school. And the opportunity to see the rings around Saturn through the telescopes was quite humbling. A fitting finish to our week of exploring NSW.
I’d love to share with you my tips, and where we stayed, contact me and I can point you in the right direction. Call +61 2 8437 1143 or email firstname.lastname@example.org