The town of Mudgee in the NSW Mid-West provides a feast for the senses in a very civilised, bucolic setting.
See. Hear. Smell. Taste. Touch. These are the words used to evoke a sense of Mudgee on visitmudgeeregion.com.au. It’s no wonder.
Mudgee is a town on sensory overload. It offers so many gastronomical, historical, agricultural and viticultural delights it’s hard to know where to start. The beginning is a good place. It’s a town — known as “the Woollahra of the West” — that was settled by Europeans in the early 1820s, 12 years before Melbourne, which makes it the second-oldest town west of the Great Dividing Range. Today its generous boulevards and tidy laneways feature superb examples of early Australian buildings and architectural façades, many of which date back to around 1850.
Located just over three hours from Sydney and five from Canberra, Mudgee has had many incarnations. In the mid-1800s gold was the raison d’être for its population boom, while from 1858 onwards it was all about wool and wine. These days, tourism and mining are part of the heady mix that ensures Mudgee’s trajectory is upward. Location has a lot to do with its success. This township is nestled in the embrace of undulating hills and a productive network of rivers, which provides meaning to the town’s name, translated literally as “nest in the hills”. Much consideration was also given to Mudgee’s excellent town planning, executed by Robert Hoddle before he shifted his focus to Melbourne’s not dissimilar grid-like pattern, wide streets and robust façades.
But it’s impossible to talk about Mudgee without referring to the historic townships that surround it. This expanse, which covers an area of more than 9000 square kilometres, is known as the mid-western region with Mudgee at its heart. In addition to Mudgee, this vicinity also includes the towns of Gulgong, Kandos and Rylstone and many other rural villages in close proximity. Today Mudgee boasts 40 cellar doors and a plethora of cafés, restaurants, markets and boutique shops alongside a vibrant arts and cultural community, which provide this town with a real chutzpah that locals relish and visitors covet. It’s a region that exudes a vigorous entrepreneurial spirit that is at once unmistakable and infectious and makes visitors want to return again and again.
This story was originally published in Australian Country issue 15.4. Want more than the first page of a story? Subscribe to our magazine here.
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Words Siobhan O’Brien
Photography Claudine Thornton