Mudgee

There’s nothing quite like a weekend in Mudgee. I’d first visited Mudgee in 1989 to attend a wedding. I’ve been back a couple of times since, mostly for the Mudgee Small Farm Field Day. This time, however, I took things a little differently: I decided to catch the train, to make it a more leisurely weekend, especially when I had to come back on Sunday afternoon, when the traffic is usually fairly hectic coming back through the Blue Mountains.

I caught the train at about 4.00pm Friday afternoon, arriving in Mudgee at about 9.25pm. Although the first half of the trip to Lithgow was great (the normal XPT ride), the second half involved catching a coach from Lithgow to Mudgee via a long and winding road which, on this weekend, was also under repair. Our bus driver actually was caught for speeding on the outskirts of town!

By the time I arrived, I was well and truly looking forward to a good night’s rest at the accommodation I was booked into called Wild Wood, which is a guesthouse located about six kilometres from town. Wildwood Guesthouse is a modern building constructed in the traditional style of a 19th centruy country homestead, made with local timbers and compressed earth. The couple who run the place, Rob and Ann come originally from Sydney, having made the “seachange” about seven years ago, taking over the guesthouse from a reclusive figure who built it, but who no longer lives in the area. It was a great place to stay… very relaxing.

On Saturday morning, I was picked up by the people hosting me, taken to town for a coffee, a chat and was shown around a few wineries. At one winery we visited – sorry, but I can’t recall the name – there was a lot of interest in Italian varieties of grapes, which I both enjoyed the taste of and thought was very interesting.

We had lunch at Deebs Kitchen, which is run by Sybil and Bechora Deeb. They specialise in Lebanese food, which was an unexpected treat in such a traditional-looking cottage, built originally as a School Master’s residence. The food was great and the atmosphere sublime.

After lunch, we visited a few more wineries. I walked around town for a while and then had an afternoon nap for that evenings Wine Trophy Dinner, the reason I was visiting Mudgee in the first place.

The evening, which was held at Simon Gilbert Wines was excellent. The meal, which included octopus braised in the 1999 Huntington Shiraz and slow braised Beef Cheeks scented with Cardamon and Orange, was prepared by five local chefs matching with trophy winners from last year.

The night ended with a dance and beer or two at the Lawson Park Hotel which, it seems, is THE place to be on a Friday night in Mudgee. It was my preferred watering hole while visiting Mudgee, since it had such a great atmosphere.

On Sunday afternoon, we paid a visit to Lowe Wines, where I spoke with a local wine-maker, Jane Wilson who won a Trophy for Best Shiraz (current vintage) at this year’s Mudgee Wine Show. Long before becoming a wine-maker she was a vet, having grown up on the West Coast of Scotland in a small village near Oban (near the Inner Hebrides). From my interest in family history, it was interesting to chat with someone who comes from an area so close to my ancesters. After several years of working in various parts of England, Jane decided she needed a break and travelled to Australia, where she obtained work at the Rothbury Estate where her future husband, David Lowe was working as a wine-maker. Although she said, she misses some aspects of work as a vet, she soon realised that wine-making was her future, having enjoyed several boozy lunches while working at the cellar door. Although they produce wine under their own label, they also specialise small in batch winemaking for contract clients which Jane says she enjoys because of the variety of grapes and climates it allows her to work in.

What an interesting place Mudgee is!

I caught the bus/train back home.

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