Make a delicious loop from Sydney through the Hawkesbury region and on to Mudgee to discover fruit orchards, cider sheds, boutique wineries and farm to table restaurants. And each night you’ll get to bed down in unique glamping tents, bushland retreats or cosy country cottages.
Journey: On the Growers' Path
Duration: 4-5 days
Fruit picking in Bilpin
Dumplings at 29 Nine 99 in Rylstone
Spend the night in a Bubbletent
Wine tasting in Mudgee
Take a class at the Little Cooking School
Day 1: Hawkesbury to Bilpin
The Hawkesbury region, a 90min drive from Sydney, has a fascinating history.
Learn more on a Hawkesbury Valley Heritage tour, run by a sixth-generation local. They’ll take you to historic buildings (including Australia’s oldest church), agricultural and artist’s sites. Stop for a takeaway lunch at friendly cafe George St Loft and, afterwards, head to the cellar door at Ironbark Distillery to purchase some of their award-winning gin. Alternatively, go for lunch at Lochiel House in Kurrajong Heights, an intimate dining space with its own boutique accommodation.
Pick fruit in season at the orchards around the Hawkesbury. Visit Anderson Farm for citrus from June to September or head to Bilpin to harvest your own apples at Shields Orchards in autumn. Alternatively pick up some local apples, jam or bush honey from the shed at Saliba Fruits (be sure to phone ahead). For a different taste of Bilpin’s apples, visit Hillbilly Ciderand stay for one of their wood-fired pizzas. Or try Bilpin Cider to taste 10 cider varieties, including three non-alcoholic versions.
Stay the night immersed in the natural bushland at the luxe Spicers Sangoma Retreat. Or continue north to Bubbletent and stay in a clear tent for an amazing evening of stargazing. Pick up a dinner pack from The Lithgow Tin Shed and try to get there before sunset so you can watch the fading light over Capertee Valley.
There are 237 species of birds that live in the Capertee Valley – go for a morning stroll to see if you spot a few.
Heading towards Mudgee, make a stop at Ganguddy-Dunns Swam to kayak on this serene waterway on the Cudgegong River. For some of the best yum cha around, the tiny 29 Nine 99 restaurant in Rylstone offers a wide range of dumplings, steamed buns and desserts, as well as a gallery and shop. Time to taste – De Beaurepaire Wines is a boutique winery set in 170-year-old stables in the hills above the town. They produce French-style wines from soil with a similar terroir to Burgundy, France.
Next, head to Mudgee’s Lowe Wines to try organic wine on the lawn under the shade of wisteria trees. Dine at the on-site restaurant, Zin House, which uses produce from the extensive kitchen garden, orchards and grazing farmland. What they don’t grow themselves they source from producers across the region. Stay the night in one of four self-contained cottages at the gorgeous property of Evanslea; each one has its own fireplace, spa bath and outdoor area.
Start the day with a memorable sunrise flight over Mudgee with Balloon Aloft and see the region’s surrounding mountains and beautiful valley.
The experience includes a decadent breakfast after the flight at Pipeclay Pumphouse restaurant at Robert Stein Winery and Vineyard. Spend some time exploring the family-owned winery and chatting to the knowledgeable winemakers. Enjoy a masterclass at The Cellar by Gilbert, learning the basics of wine tasting with a snack made from local produce.
Head to Baker Williams, a unique micro distillery making gin and a range of liqueurs, including butterscotch schnapps and orangecello. For dinner, try Roth’s Wine Bar – with a tapas menu featuring local produce, 100 regional wines on the menu and live music, it’s a fun night out.
Eat breakfast in the hidden courtyard of Artisan on Lewis – the small, mostly vegetarian menu is based on produce from local farmers and gardeners.
Check out the shop, which stocks homewares and accessories as well as homemade pickles and reserves. Enjoy a taste of the classic Apple Tree Flat Chardonnay at Logan Wines in the all-glass tasting room with spectacular views. Then head to First Ridge Wines to try Italian varietals in the cellar door made entirely of repurposed shipping containers. Alby & Esthers is a favourite haunt for drinks and share plates, tucked away in a welcoming laneway – try the bruschetta made with local mushrooms.
Mudgee Brewing Company is housed in a 100-year-old red brick wool store in the centre of town. Try the signature stout, Mudgee Mud, and ask to hear the story behind the name. End the day by perfecting your gnocchi or sourdough skills at a workshop at the Little Cooking School and enjoy the results over a dinner with local wines.