Twenty-Four Marvellous Hours in Mudgee
A large number of regional NSW towns are renowned for their iconic symbols and achievements. Coffs Harbour is famous for its oversized banana, Ballina has a massive prawn, Broken Hill has a large ant, Tamworth is home to a gigantic guitar, Spike Milligan put Woy Woy – “the world’s only above-ground cemetery” – on the map, and Wagga Wagga is renowned for the large number of high profile sportspeople it produces.
But what about Mudgee? I’d heard of this town but had no idea where it was or what it was known for. That changed pretty quickly when I was invited on a 24-hour ‘Midweek Mudgee Getaway’ to find out what the region had to offer. Weekends are extremely popular for visitors to the Mudgee region, so in order to disperse visitors during the week, Mudgee Tourism cleverly devised Midweek Mudgee Getaways.
Mudgee is only an easy three-and-a-half-hour drive from Sydney or, as the pelican flies, a breezy 50-minute flight from Kingsford Smith. During my whirlwind visit I discovered award-winning world class wineries, superb restaurants, and even a vintage motorcycle museum. I also got to take in a stunning aerial view of the region in a breathtaking helicopter joyride…
After landing in Mudgee, we drive straight to the award-winning Robert Stein Winery & Vineyard, which is also home to the renowned Pipeclay Pumphouse Restaurant and the vineyard’s antique motorcycle museum. We are given a short yet thorough introduction to the history of the award-winning winery, and not long after we are tucking into egg and bacon gnocchi with pipeclay pork and wild mushroom fricassee, while other guests sample the delightful truffle oil scrambled eggs.
Early morning glasses of superb locally grown champagne are appraised as we learn that most of the produce on the menu is grown or bred on the Stein winery farm.
We take a walk through Robert Stein’s motorcycle museum after breakfast to see his collection of antique bikes, before our group of eight is split up to experience some of the activities on offer.
Midweek Mudgee Getaways offer fishing, camping, golf, watersports, trike biking, and nature walks – just to mention a few of the activities that are available for visitors to experience.
Some of our group decide to play golf with the companionship of legendary television personality Ken Sutcliffe – a passionate Mudgee resident himself. The rest of the group is organised to go on trike rides, sculpture walks, nature walks, and private stud tours, all to be finished off with vineyard visits and tastings.
Myself and a colleague decide on something a little more exciting. Straight after breakfast we hop onto a Mudgee Helicopter, which is waiting for us in front of the restaurant, and embark on a 45-minute helicopter tour of Mudgee and its surrounding districts. Highlights of the flight on this beautiful clear spring morning include spectacular views of the vineyards, the neighbouring towns, and the sparkling cobalt blue waters of Windamere Dam.
The flight is captivating but it comes to an end all too soon as we land in the Rylstone region, one of Mudgee’s closest neighbours. We visit a beautiful boutique winery, De Beaurepaire Wines, renowned for producing French-style wines, and are met by the owners and their daughter, who emanate a wonderful warmth and charm.
During an information session we learn that the vineyard has the same soil characteristics and weather as Burgundy, Champagne, and the Northern Rhone Valley in France, hence why these wine growing regions, in particular the De Beaurepaire vineyard, are now producing some of the world’s finest French-style wines.
Between wine tastings and cheese platters, we’re given a comprehensive history of De Beaurepaire Wines. We learn how, due to the popularity of their product and the small quantities produced, their wines are only available at very high-end hotels.
We bid farewell to De Beaurepaire Wines, along with our Mudgee helicopter, and continue our adventure by car to the little town of Rylstone, where we are hosted for lunch at a dumpling restaurant named 29 Nine 99. After lunch we attempt to shake off the 1,000 delightful dumplings we’ve just demolished by taking a short stroll through town. Hopefully this will free up a little wine-tasting space as our next cellar door is just around the corner, at Logan Wines.
We check into our overnight accommodation at the luxury Peppertree Hill and freshen up before our last tasting for the day at the certified organic winery, Lowes Wines. Their tasting room is shrouded in blooming purple wisteria, overlooking some of Australia’s most beautiful countryside. Their award winning Chardies, Pinots, and bubbles are offered up, and antipasto platters are served.
After the tastings we dawdle to a hatted restaurant called the Zin House Restaurant, which is part of the Lowes vineyard. The dinner is delicious and, together with a selection of Lowes wines, leaves an indelible memory as we all get to reminisce about our Midweek Mudgee Getaway.
Where to stay