It feels like a very long time since we’ve been able to do this, but we’re finally able to do a bit of travelling!
In truth, it’s only been four months, but for travel writers and photographers, that’s a lifetime. On November 1st 2021, everyone in NSW with double-shot Covid vaccinations was allowed to travel freely within the state. So we hopped in a car and zoomed off to Mudgee.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the things we got up to while we were away for the week don’t worry, reviews of where we stayed, what we ate and drank and recommendations on things to do there are coming! We’re just excited to share with you a quick summary.
Also, we’re celebrating the launch of our amazing new magazine Hint – the Christmas compendium for gift inspo, recipes and stories on coping the silly season.
We’re also excited to be tasting Australia’s latest craft gin and we’re celebrating a milestone birthday with an NZ winery.
We hope you enjoy this Edition.
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx
It’s been a long time since we were last in Mudgee, but we’re so happy to be here. And we’ve (accidentally) timed it perfectly: all the vines in the vineyards are green and beautiful.
We always seem to make it to wine country just as the wineries have snipped everything back for winter.
Sight of the tramlines of greenery spreading out over the verdant hills around Mudgee give us a thrill of all the superb wines we’re about to try.
Indeed, our first stop as we get into the region is at Burnbrae Winery. We taste their wines, pick up a delicious platter and a couple of bottles and zoom off to our digs for the night.
This is our incredible outlook at Glenayr Farm in Windeyer. It’s only about 20 minutes out of Mudgee but it feels like you’re the only people on earth here.
You can see our full review and video walkthrough of Glenayr Farm here.
We’re staying in one of the two stunning villas Glenayr have built on their 320-acre property (look out for our full review and video), but you can also glamp in one of the four bell tents they also have here. Each one is big enough for a queen-size bed!
But here in our villa, we set up our fire pit, crack a bottle of vino and get stuck into the platter with one eye on the scenery, the other on the wood-fired hot tub on the veranda!
Mudgee really is a truly beautiful part of the world. And it’s not just the scenery that makes it. The people here are the friendliest we’ve ever met – personified when we head to Rosby Wines.
Not only do we get an amazing tasting of their full range from owner-wine-maker Gerry Norton-Knight, we get a private tour of the incredible sculpture event happening at Rosby over the next three weeks from Kay Norton-Knight too.
This event – Sculptures in the Garden – is an annual gallery that brings together so many fascinating works of art around the winery, and Kay and the family work tirelessly all year to make it happen.
Don’t miss out – we can personally vouch that this year is going to be quite something!
Today, we’re leaving the car keys in our hotel and hopping aboard Sabrina the beautiful split-screen Kombi for a ride round the wineries. This is a tour company called Country Kombi, and it’s really the only way to see Mudgee.
Our first stop – before we get stuck into the cellar doors – is at High Valley Cheese. Hot tip: take home some of their pesto fetta. You find it in at least one dish in every cafe and restaurant in Mudgee, and for good reason.
So this happened.
As we pull up at the beautiful Robert Stein Winery, we’re roped (happily) into an impromptu photoshoot for the Daily Telegraph! They’re running a story on Sydneysiders getting back to regional NSW, so looks like we’ll be in print soon.
Aside from the modelling (it really is a lot harder than it looks!) we get to hook into an excellent charcuterie platter (they make their own cured meats here) and taste some of the extraordinary wines with none other than chief winemaker Jacob Stein, whose family have owned and run this winery since 1838!
Such a nice smart man – and the wines he’s making are simply brilliant.
Our final stop finds us at Lowe Family Wines. The outlook at this cellar door, which is in the same huge building as the heart of the winery, is beautiful.
The kitchen here, which is right next to much lauded Pipeclay Pumphouse that we’ve reviewed in the past, turns out one of the most incredible grazing plates we’ve seen. Glad I had my photoshoot before we came here at least!
Perhaps it’s because we’ve all been locked down so long, or maybe it’s just the Mudgee friendliness, but the winery dogs here are absolutely adorable.
So many belly rubs and good bois this week – our endorphin levels have really been topped up. This is Pepper from Rosby Wines by the way. 15/10
I think it’s safe to say that it doesn’t really matter where you eat in Mudgee; all the food here is good. But it doesn’t often inspire or open your mind like the dishes at Indigiearth’s Warakirri Cafe.
Founder-owner Sharon Windsor – a proud Ngemba Weilwan woman – opened this cafe as part of her incredible empire in a bid to show people the wealth of native foods we have right here.
Yes, it’s bushtucker – but don’t get confused with a primitive witchetty grub or a load of green ants (though they do use green ants very effectively here). Rather, Sharon has created dishes that you’d likely find in most modern cafes but with a native twist.
Everything is delicious here. My sautéed mushrooms with wild thyme, High Valley fetta (I told you!) and balsamic reduction are excellent, while Christina’s native smoothie bowl is packed with flavour, including kakadu plum and lemon myrtle.
Don’t forget to browse the shop while you’re here. Some lovely Indigenous-made products for sale here.
Any time you wonder ‘do I feel like a pub dinner?’, it means you’re not in Mudgee! This evening, we’re in the Paragon Hotel for a feed you really can’t knock.
The glee on my face tells the whole story really. I’m about to hurtle into the burger special: the Big Cheese. It’s a monster of a thing with a flatiron patty, two types of cheese, bacon, a massive onion ring, tomato, beetroot and caramelised onions. It almost defeats me.
Christina also struggles through her thick-cut lamb cutlets. We’re both very impressed.
Our last night in Mudgee brings us to an icon of the town: Roth’s Wine Bar. From the outside, it might look just like a bottleshop or maybe a quiet spot to try some vino. You soon learn otherwise as you step through the door.
Going back a surprisingly long way into ‘The Shed’, Roth’s is in fact a huge spot for great pizzas, an excellent range of wines and live music venue.
We’ve also timed our visit perfectly – we’re here for trivia night. Run by inimitable owner Jordan Rowelands, the quiz is hotly contested and a lot of fun. We didn’t win by the way.
Back in Sydney, it’s nose back to the grindstone as we prepare to launch our latest edition of Hint Magazine. This year’s is bigger than ever with over 65 pages of gift ideas, articles and recipes all set for a great Christmas.
We’re so proud of Hint Magazine – we hope you enjoy it too!
Timboon Distillery, right near the Twelve Apostles in the Great Ocean Road, has collaborated with Ruby Seven – a company raising money for research into curing neuromuscular illness Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) – and has created a new gin!
For every bottle bought, Timboon Distillery will donate $7 to Fara, the foundation involved with curing this terrible disease.
You can read more about the gin and FA, and our interviews with owner-distiller Josh Walker and Ruby Seven founder Leah Alstin here.
It’s always fun to celebrate a birthday! New Zealand winery Kim Crawford Wines has turned 25. They’ve sent us a couple of bottles of their Sauvignon Blanc and a smash cake packed with lollies and 25 wise sentiments like “Don’t sweat the small stuff. 99.9% of the stuff is small” and “Splurge on experiences, not possessions (wine is an experience)”.
Wise words indeed. Happy birthday Kim Crawford – a winery that started in a little cottage in Auckland by Kim and Erica Crawford.
It’s so good to be able to sit at a table in our favourite cafe again. Amazing what we took for granted all those years, isn’t it? This is Cafe d’Yvoire in Balmain by the way. Check it out if you get chance.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this Weekly Edition.
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx