Superb food, an excellent, compact wine region and the friendliest locals anywhere, Mudgee – just a few hours from Sydney – is an incredible destination. Here’s our Essential Guide to Australia’s Top Tourism Town*.
There’s something about exploring regional towns of New South Wales. There’s nothing quite like them; they’re very different to country towns in the rest of Australia – or the world for that matter.
And as for Mudgee specifically, it’s even more unique than that.
With a friendly culture you’d think inspired the famed hospitality of the USA’s Midwest and a culinary capability on a par with the most delicious parts of Europe, Mudgee really does punch above its weight.
And its rolling hills, misty mornings and busy broad streets rattling with life create a thriving oasis in a lush landscape of peaceful farms, beguiling wineries and well-mannered bushland.
Essential guide to Mudgee, NSW
Obviously this is not an exhaustive guide, just based on things we’ve experienced and really enjoyed.
For more detail and even more ideas, head to the Mudgee Visitor Information Centre. The staff are amazing and the centre is well worth visiting too.
We’ve broken this guide down into five sections – you can click on each of these headings to take you straight there.
1. Where to Stay
Perfectly located in the centre of Mudgee, right across the road from the Visitor Centre and – as the name suggests – the park, the Parkview Hotel is a beautifully renovated 1870s building and once a pharmacy.
The huge rooms, lofted ceilings and runaround balcony give you a real sense of space and comfort, and the adjoining cafe downstairs does the best coffee in town.
Just a little out of town, the Homestead is home to the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in. Aside from that, this grand country manor with kangaroos on the front lawn and beautiful views out over the valley provide such a relaxing stay.
In the nearby village (about 15 minutes’ drive) of Eurunderee, these spacious self-contained two-bed cottages are the perfect escape without sacrificing convenience.
Views from your own veranda over the hills and valleys of the countryside are spectacular, and a nightly fire pit amongst the sculptures on the lawn is a lot of fun too.
For true seclusion and romance, the villas on Glenayr Farm provide the ultimate digital retreat. Set on 340 acres, this option really gives you a feeling of space.
Bring all the food and drink you need with you and bunker down or make forays into town to come back and play with the fire pit or your wood-fire heated hot tub on the veranda. Bliss.
2. Where to Eat
Food in Mudgee is unbelievable. I challenge you to have a bad meal here. Venues like to use local produce and the skills in the kitchens here do justice to the amazing ingredients.
Breakfast and lunch
Tucked away in a pretty little courtyard, Alby and Ester’s is a Mudgee institution. Everything is good here, but the jaffle toasties, which change all the time, are superb.
Owned and run by the incredible Sharon Windsor, who herself grew up in the scrublands between Gunnedah and Coonabarabran, Warakirri is a cafe with a difference: although the majority of the dishes appear to be regular cafe fare, Sharon has incorporated bush tucker into them in some form or another.
The food is delicious, the story behind Warakirri – an Ngemba word meaning ‘to grow’ – is fascinating and the shop here stocks all kinds of local produce and Indigenous crafts.
Stocking the best bacon egg rolls in the whole region (a big statement but I stand by it), this little cafe is well worth a visit when you’re hungry.
Behind the cafe is Olive A Twist – a little bakery where you can pick up artisanal sourdough and scrumptious cakes.
We might be wrong but at time of writing, this was the best coffee in town. The food is also excellent here – in fact their bacon egg roll also comes with a hash brown! Mudgee Corner Store, the gauntlet has been cast.
Taking yum cha to a whole new realm, this unexpected treasure out in Rylstone, a village about 45 minutes from Mudgee, is quite something.
Na Lan makes all the dumplings herself by hand and they’re all delicious. There’s an a la carte option but you can also let Na Lan choose which ones to serve. Don’t worry, you can trust her! And remember to bring a cooler bag – you can buy pack of frozen dumplings to take home.
The dining element of Lowe Family Wines, Zin House is the ultimate foodie extension to a winery cellar door.
It’s the sweet spot between fine dining and enjoying a hearty meal in a country manor, and the long lunch – a wonderful culinary journey through five courses – is simply incredible. You can also book this for a long dinner too.
– Every winery in Mudgee
Pretty much all the wineries here offer an amazing cheese plate or charcuterie board at the very least, so if you’re on the wine-tasting trail and you feel a bit peckish, fret not!
– Eat where you’re staying
If it’s provided, breakfast – especially if you’re staying at the Mudgee Homestead – is always a good idea to agree to. They also do a killer afternoon tea btw.
Homely, hearty, friendly and family oriented, the Paragon is a real centre point of Mudgee’s community. You see everyone here, from tradies to families, young couples to the more senior clientele, friends’ catch-ups to after-work soaks.
And the food is well matched to the pub’s hospitality: generous, fun and so good you’ll come back for more. The burger specials, by the way, are insanely good.
Continually licensed since 1923 (and selling a drop or two from under the counter for quite some time before that according to legend), Roth’s Wine Bar is a lively, knock-about venue with great beers, a massive wine list and some superb food to boot.
The wood-fired pizza oven turns out an excellent array of Roma style pizzas as well as great American diner sides not to be missed.
The best restaurant in the town, Cade Kitchen and Bar is set in one of the oldest remaining buildings in Mudgee. Once a coachhouse, the restaurant still shows some of the old fixtures from its 1850s heritage.
Renée Cade – head chef and owner of this fine-dining eatery – has infused every dish with her remarkable skills and vision. This is a dinner to remember.
Long lauded as the best restaurant in the region, the Pipeclay Pumphouse really takes things up a notch and is where all the locals will recommend you eat when you ask them. And for good reason.
Just out of town near the Robert Stein Winery and perched on the edge of the property’s lake, the Pipeclay Pumphouse is beautifully romantic. The modern menu is full of tempting dishes, each one adding to the food theatre of the place with its immaculate plating.
3. Where to Drink
We’ll get to the wineries in a moment – they deserve their own section really.
Fun and friendly, the Paragon is one of those great country pubs that manages to maintain the atmosphere of the place in spite of being so big. But plenty of space, great choices behind the bar and really well done classic pub fare sees this as our favourite Mudgee boozer for a cheeky few.
Right next to Mudgee’s iconic clocktower roundabout, the Woolpack is right at the heart of town. This iconic pub is great for a couple of late-night pints – or lunchtime pleasers of course – with a bubbly atmosphere and a good range of drinks.
Breaking tradition, the food here is from adjoining Jumbucks – a modern Chinese fusion restaurant. It’s super popular with the locals and the grub looks excellent.
From the outside, Roth’s looks like a pleasant little wine bar with a well-stocked bottle shop next door, but as you go in, you realise there’s nothing little about this excellent venue.
From the front bar, the place stretches back for the whole block through stone archways past a huge pizza oven to what’s known as The Shed. Grab a glass – or why not a bottle – and soak up the fun vibe of this the oldest running bar in town.
4. Wineries to Visit
There are so many great wineries in Mudgee and its surrounding area. These are some we’ve been to and can highly recommend. The best thing about this wine region is it’s quite compact and close to town.
You can visit quite a few cellar doors in a short space of time and pop back into Mudgee for dinner.
And if you want to visit the wineries properly, why not book Sabrina the split-screen Kombi through Country Kombi to tour the region in style?
Especially if you’re staying at Glenayr Farm, this winery is your best stop. The wines are excellent and the platter they can knock up for you is the perfect dinner while you watch the sun go down from your private villa in the hills.
Make sure you give plenty of attention to Coco, Burnbrae’s cellar dawg. I think it’s the law.
Rosby Wines brings together both excellent wine and wonderful art in one beautiful, unique cellar door. Relax beneath the trees and enjoy a tasting then wander through the gallery of local and national art. Gerry and Kay Norton-Knight and their daughter Amber make this a lovely experience – more than just a wine-tasting.
Driving to this cellar door is an experience in itself as the road leads you through the incredible expanses of grapevines growing in this micro-terroir, said to be the closest to that of Burgundy in Australia. The story of how this winery came to be, hidden in the hills outside Rylstone, is fascinating, and the French-style Pinots and Chardonnays speak for themselves.
Sampling superb Chardonnay and Shiraz amidst the atmospheric barrels of this family-run winery is a wonderful experience. And with the outlook of grapevines leading to the low mountains in the distance, you get the real feeling of being in wine country here. Remember to try the rum cask tawny.
This brand new winery is in fact much more than that. Although it does grow and make several wine varietals, there’s also an enormous cherry orchard here as well as olives and a host of other produce. The cellar door is unexpectedly grand, while the tasting service is Mudgee friendly!
Perhaps the most striking cellar door, Lowe Family Wines has set up its enormous tasting lounge in one side of the wine-making barn. Behind a rack of barrels, you can hear the winemakers hard at work while you sip through the range and nibble on one of the expansive platters on offer here.
Meaning ‘nest in the hills’ in Wiradjuri language (and possibly the corrupted origins of Mudgee), Moothi certainly is that. A beautiful cellar door overlooking a lake and vines with rolling land stretching out before it. The wine and food here are not to be missed – especially if you like a ploughmans.
Just because this is one of the larger wineries nor because it’s the first you come to as you reach Mudgee, don’t think Logan’s isn’t worth a stop in. Awesome staff, bankable wines and actually a great way to lower yourself into the warm bath that is this friendly town.
5. What to Do
Even if you know what you want to do in Mudgee, your first stop should be the Mudgee Visitor’s Centre. The shop here is great, resources and info are amazing, the staff are really helpful, and the art gallery is really worth a look.
– Follow the art down to the river
From the art gallery at the visitor’s centre, you can follow the sculptures all the way down to the river and along the bank. They’re all by local or Aussie artists, and are a show of the talent that’s here.
Each year the Norton-Knight family run an incredible sculpture exhibition on the grounds of the winery, pulling in artists and their works from all over the country, as well as showing off some of Kay Norton-Knight’s excellent work – though she’s too modest to admit it!
– Wine tasting – obviously
The close proximity of the wineries around Mudgee make this an easier spot to explore different cellar doors than the Hunter Valley or even the Barossa.
But if you want an even more stylish way to get about and not worry about having to drive, check out Country Kombi, where you’re driven from cellar door to cellar door in a beautiful split-screen kombi called Sabrina.
Sample some of the best cheese you’ll taste – in particular the pesto fetta, which you’ll find included in many a menu around town. The chilli fetta though is a bit of an unsung hero, and the blue is pretty good too.
Of course, the honey they sell here is delicious, but there’s a huge range of local produce available at this store just outside town. We took our friend Jenna’s recommendation and bought a jar of the California style olives and now we’re hooked!
Although 10’s Estate is primarily a winery, at the right time of year you can come and pluck fresh cherries straight from the orchard. And with 3,000 trees, there’s plenty of picking to be done! There’s also a fig orchard and citrus grove when the cherries aren’t ripe to pick.
Roth’s Wine Bar is a lot of fun to visit anyway, but if you’re here on a Thursday, the trivia night is even more fun. Owner Jordan Rowlands does a cracking job corralling brainiacs as the competition heats up and the wine flows. And every Friday and Saturday night, Jordan gives up the stage to local bands with live music lifting the roof.
– Visit Rylstone
About 45 minutes down the road, the historic village of Rylstone is worth the drive. Its pretty streets have barely changed over the centuries, and the shops and eateries here are great to explore. Here are some of them:
Full of carefully curated and repurposed homewares, gifts, art and furniture by owners Carol and Kym Carslake. A beautiful boutique.
The handmade dumplings and speciality teas that Na Lan makes in her tiny kitchen in the middle of Rylstone are a hazard to any other yum cha joint you’ve been to: they’ll spoil you for life.
Hidden away amongst its own grapevines just outside Rylstone, this fascinating family-owned winery has a name that dates back over 1000 years to when the original family settling in Beaurepaire-en-Bresse in Burgundy. Its wines are as interesting as the story about how the family came to choose this specific location for the winery.