Start: Sydney, NSW
Finish: Mudgee, NSW
Estimated Driving Time: 3 hrs 30 min (not including stops)
Historic Mudgee lies west of the Great Dividing Range on the gentle hills around the Cudgegong River. A comfortable three and a half-hour’s drive from Sydney, it’s a popular destination for a weekend drive.
It’s become popular for its historic buildings, arts and crafts, boutique food producers, award-winning wineries and events.
Mudgee’s charming town centre; image by Jon Armstrong via Destination NSW
From Sydney, head west along Parramatta Road, then take the M4 Western Motorway and Great Western Highway through the Blue Mountains or follow the Bells Line of Road to Lithgow. Just past Lithgow, turn left onto the Castlereagh Highway (B55) to Mudgee.
Checkpoint: the Blue Mountains
Driving to Mudgee takes you through the Blue Mountains, about 90 minutes from Sydney, where you will be spoiled for choice for a meal, snack or just to stretch your legs.
Cafes with draw-dropping views here include Solitary Restaurant & Kiosk in Katoomba, which overlooks the Jamison Valley from its position on the edge of escarpment, the Leura Gourmet Café & Deli on Leura Mall, which has panoramic bush views through its floor-to ceiling window, or the Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens’ restaurant on the Bell’s Line of Road with views to the Wollemi National Park.
For historic eateries, try Katoomba’s Carrington Hotel, an 1882 heritage building or the Paragon Café, Australia’s oldest cafe built in 1916, both on the main street.
For an unbeatable way to stretch your legs and enjoy nature at its most expansive, take a break at The Three Sisters at the end of Echo Point Road, Katoomba.
Visit The Three Sisters en route to Mudgee; image by James Horan via Destination NSW
Where to eat and drink
Mudgee’s producers are keen for you to try their food with many farm tours on offer, produce markets, and about 50 cellar doors to visit.
The dining scene here is bustling too, particularly on weekend mornings, where a hearty country breakfast makes the perfect start to any day. Popular cafes include the Butcher Shop, Outside the Square, Dancing Goat and The Quick Brown Fox. For a fast take-away, grab fresh baked goodies and coffee at the Mudgee Bakery & Cake on Market Street.
For later in the day, Mudgee’s streets are lined with bars and restaurants including Sajo’s, the Wine Glass Bar & Grill, historic Roth’s Wine Bar, Elton’s Brasserie, Arbuckle’s on Church and The Ori Bistro at the Oriental Hotel.
Many Mudgee wineries have restaurants onsite, including the Pipeclay Pumphouse at Robert Stein Winery, the High Valley Wine and Cheese Company, and di Lusso Estate Winery on Eurunderee Lane, which specialises in Mediterranean-style food. The Mudgee Brewing Co at 4 Church Street, a converted woolstore, brews and serves boutique beers and ales and gourmet meals.
Local farm tours, country drives, strolling the town’s galleries and artists’ studios and National Trust-listed buildings are popular among visitors to Mudgee.
There are guided historic walks, or you can explore on your own, as most of the most significant buildings are within easy walking distance of the town centre. Mudgee is the second-oldest settlement west of the Blue Mountains and many of its original buildings are in the grand classical revival style, fronting the wide streets. Complete your history-fix at the Colonial Inn Museum, in the former West End Hotel, which is open seven days.
If you’re in town on the third Saturday of the month, drop in at the Mudgee Fine Foods Farmer Markets at St Mary’s Catholic Church, a one-stop foodie’s paradise.
For those keen to see where Mudgee’s local eateries source their fresh ingredients, take a farm tour of local properties, many specialising in organic and biodynamic farming. Or drive the Mudgee ‘wine trail’ to the cellar doors of the region’s 50-plus wineries.
Sample Mudgee’s own fresh produce at markets or on a driving tour of local farms; image via Destination NSW
Mudgee has a wide variety of accommodation including self-contained cottages, guest houses, boutique hotels, B&Bs, motels and hotels.
Step back in time and stay at the 1850s The Tannery on Lawson Street, which was once a tannery and is now a colonial style cottage with modern comforts, or Cobb & Co Court on Market Street, a Victorian-themed boutique hotel. Out of town, there’s Anne’s Wildwood Guest house on Henry Lawson Drive, a rural retreat set in bushland, and Mudgee Homestead on Coorumbene Court, a seven-bedroom Federation homestead.
A few minutes out of town, on the Hill End Road is the Mudgee Honey Haven for delicious tastings, watching bees at work or a game of putt-putt golf.
Head to the bush and take a walking trail at Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve, a 27-minute drive north-east on Mudgee-Wollar Road, or grab your swimmers and take the 2.4km return walk and enjoy a swim at The Drip Gorge, a 40-minute drive north-east of Gulgong on Ulan-Cassilis Road. The gorge features stunning hanging sandstone cliffs and Brett Whiteley murals on its rock cave walls.
Wollemi National Park, famous for its Wollemi Pine tree, is an hour’s drive south east of Mudgee. Its Dunns Swamp waterway has sandstone canyons and rock formations where you can take a guided tour or hire a water craft.
En route to Gulgong, 10 minutes’ drive north is Gorree Park a stunning property on Castlereagh Highway. Take breakfast by the track, visit the cellar door, enjoy a Wagyu beef barbecue and stud tours.
The Mudgee Observatoryis 15 minutes south west of Mudgee on Old Grattai Road. It’s open daily for tours and hosts planetarium evenings.
Drive the peaceful Mudgee countryside; Destination NSW
Nearby historic towns Rylstone and Gulgong
Neighbouring Mudgee are the historic towns of Rylstone, a 45-minute drive south along the Castlereagh Highway, and Gulgong, 22 minutes north.
At Rylstone, visit The Cottage Museum for an insight to pioneer life in the 19th and 20th centuries. Open Sundays 10am to 3pm.
Gulgong was a gold-mining town and its narrow, winding streets are home to many historic National Trust buildings. Its Pioneer’s Museum is open daily. Also at Gulgong is the Henry Lawson Centre, a museum dedicated to the bush poet’s life and literary work.
Historic Gulgong is 25 minutes from Mudgee; image by Hamilton Lund via Destination NSW
Mudgee hosts many annual events attracting visitors from far and wide. Here’s a selection:
28 February to 1 March
The Mudgee Showground hosts the annual Mudgee Show & Rodeo with rodeos, a showgirl competition, fireworks, V8 race ute show, yard dog trials, dance performances, pig races, live music, a sideshow alley and a pet show, where any pet can vie for an award in 18 categories including cleverest, most cuddly, best behaved and best licks.
Robert Stein Winery and Vineyard holds the yearly Footcrush Feast. Take a vineyard walking tour with winemaker Jacob Stein and join in the fun grape foot crush, followed by dinner and entertainment.
A Day on the Green with Hunters & Collectors
Fans of H&C and Australian music in general will enjoy this unique live performance amongst the vines at Robert Oatley Vineyards, Craigmoor Road.
An international short film festival with a difference, Mudfest is also held outdoors, amongst the vines, at the Bunnamagoo Estate.
Easter 18-21 April
The Seventh Annual Mudgee Bike Muster is a family-friendly weekend of non-competitive recreational cycling with entertainment, regional food and a campsite.
The Wings, Wheels and Wine Air & Car Show presented by the Mudgee Aero Club features air shows by small planes and helicopters, aerobatic displays, hang glider tow-and-release, plane and helicopter joy rides, car and bike races, wine-tasting and car displays. For details, click here.
Mudgee Races at Mudgee Race Club, Cassilis Road, Mudgee
The Annual Henry Lawson Heritage Festival, Gulgong
A festival celebrating Australian bush poet Henry Lawson with markets, a grand parade, live music, food fair, wine-tasting, vintage displays, a pilgrimage drive, barrow and billy-cart races and a ghost tour.