‘Mudgee’ comes from the Wiradjuri word ‘Moothi’ which means, romantically, ‘Nest in the Hills’. Flying in, you can see the truth to this moniker, Mudgee is a valley surrounded by gently curved peaks. It has a climate several degrees warmer than the surrounding high country, which, along with sandy loam soil, makes the area attractive to viticulturalists.
Wine, and the accompanying fresh produce of a fertile wine country, are the most obvious drawcards of the region. But you’ll also find national parks, heritage villages and artists’ towns in these here hills, alongside some truly excellent accommodation options.
A guide to Mudgee
Eating and Drinking
If you only eat one fancy meal in Mudgee, do it at the Zin House, an elegant restaurant on the Lowe Vineyard that serves a five-course, mod Oz set menu made from locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Sat atop a hill, the west-facing porch of the terrace gets stunning sunsets – a perfect accompaniment to a slow-cooked wagyu tri-tip (as rich as it sounds) and a smooth, fruity glass of organic zinfandel.
For something simple, Alby and Esthers right in town does a $10 all-day jaffle that can undo the results of even the most vigorous wine tasting session. Or, for hand-made dumplings, go to the nearby town of Rylstone and visit 29Nine99 Yum Cha + Tea House where owner Na Lan folds each morsel with obsessive care.
Things to do
Though Mudgee is the centre of the region, there are plenty of small towns worth exploring, all within a half hour’s drive. The 19th century gold rush town of Gulgong has streets lined with historic buildings, a tiny Pioneers Museum and even the Prince of Wales Opera House, which still hosts the occasional gig to this day.
Live out your fairy fantasies in Ferntree Gully Reserve, which has a number of bushwalking tracks – including some that wind around the rainforest floor, staying cool even on hot days.
Fancy exploring your artistic side? Rosby Wines, which also plays host to annual festival Sculptures in the Garden offers workshops and short courses by visiting artists, including life drawing, landscape painting and portraiture.
If you’re planning on touring wineries – and you should be – you really shouldn’t be driving. Fortunately, there are other ways to vineyard hop.
Mudgee Tourist Bus is the simplest solution. They offer chauffeur-services for groups of two or more, and do a mid-week day tour special for $80 per person, including lunch. They can help you pick the wineries, or you can design your own itinerary.
For something a little old-fashioned, Goldfields Carriage Co does full and half day group winery tours on a horse-drawn cart, from $100 per head.
Meanwhile, for those that want to get their adrenaline going between sips, Mudgee Trikes will zoom you around on a roarsome Mustang trike for $140 per head for three hours. Be warned, this method is not for the motorcycle-shy.
Think you’re the ultimate baller? Then Mudgee Helicopters is the way to go – they offer two stop winery tours, including an aerial look-see of Mudgee town and surrounds, for $800 for up to four people.
Mudgee has plenty of farm-stay options, but one of the prettiest is Peppertree Hill. With accommodation options ranging from 15-person farmsteads to one bedroom cottages, this country retreat on a working cattle farm has elegant, modern decor that is far from country-rustic. An eight-minute drive from the centre of Mudgee, it is still remote enough to get glittering, star-filled nights.
Fancy something a little more adventurous? Sierra Escape, 25 minutes north of Mudgee, is an off-the-grid, camping-style experience that offers the comforts of a five star hotel.
Mudgee is a four hour drive from Sydney, and the journey takes you straight through the Blue Mountains. This makes it perfect for a multi-day road trip. But, if you want to head straight there, small-craft airline Pelican flies direct to Mudgee daily for $99 one way. You even get your own check-in counter at the airport.