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Mudgee, NSW

Charming town in the heart of the third largest wine growing area in New South Wales

Mudgee is an attractive and sophisticated country town of fine old buildings, located in the broad, picturesque and fertile Cudgegong River Valley. Surrounded by gently undulating hills it is noted primarily for more than 40 superb vineyards and outstanding providores, cafes and restaurants which accompany the vineyards and cellar doors. The area is also known for for its fine wool, beef, fat lambs, cereal crops, lucerne, vegetables and honey. It is the third largest grape growing region in New South Wales.

Location

Mudgee is situated 266 km north-west of Sydney via Katoomba and the Great Western Highway. It is 454 m above sea-level.

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Origin of Name

It is claimed that 'Mudgee' is a corruption of a Wiradjuri Aboriginal term, 'Moothi', meaning 'nest in the hills'. 

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Things to See and Do

Mudgee CBD Walk
There is a pleasant and informative walk around the Mudgee CBD which covers approximately 2.8 km, starts at the Visitor Information Centre (where you can pick up a brochure) and includes 16 places of historic interest. It can also be accessed on pages 8-9 of the Mudgee Visitors Guide - http://cdn.wisdom.com.au/MudgeeVisitorsGuide/MRT-2017-Visitor-Guide-FLIPBOOK.html. The most interesting places include:

1. Robertson Park
Robertson Park was Mudgee's first market place (it was originally known as Market Square) and the venue of the first Mudgee Show in 1846. It has beautiful gardens, a band rotunda (1903) which was built to honour the local MP Sir John Robertson who was the Premier of NSW, and a war memorial honouring the men who fought in the Boer War.

2. Post Office
Located on the corner of Market and Perry Streets, this unusual single storey Classical Revival stuccoed-brick post office was built in 1862. It was one of the first major country post offices in the state. An impressive building it features an arcade with a pediment parapet and small belltower.

3. Dear, Loneragan and Hogan (DLH Solicitors)
Located at 70 Market Street, this interesting two storey building dates from 1884 when it was built by the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney (CBC Bank). It closed in 1974 when it became the NAB and subsequently became the offices of a local firm of solicitors.

4. Town Hall
A centrepiece for a very impressive run of heritage buildings, the Town Hall at 64 Market Street was built in 1880 and extensively renovated in 2012-2013. It is officially classified by the National Trust. The Heritage Council of New South Wales notes: "It is neo-classic in style having stuccoed pediments to windows and the elaborate central roof gable containing the date and name plaque and ventilator. The structure is of brick with stuccoed quions, window surrounds and central balcony - porch. A small mansard roof of corrugated iron is set behind a low parapet at the front and is surmounted by a flagpole turret with cast iron crestings." For more details check out http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/visit/ViewAttractionDetail.aspx?ID=5045732#.

5. Hannaford Cox Connellan McFarland
Located at 62 Market Street this handsome building was built in the late 1920s and originally occupied by the State Bank of New South Wales which became the Rural Bank around 1935. It has been classified by the National Trust.

6. St John the Baptist Anglican Church
Located on the north-western corner of Market Street is St John the Baptist's Anglican Church (1860-61). The large organ dates from 1881 and the church has some notable stained-glass windows. In Church Street is the Sunday school hall which was built in 1860 as an Anglican school.

7. Clock Tower
The Clock Tower dominates the top end of Market Street. It was a gift from Ivan Adams and is a War Memorial.

8. Regent Picture Theatre
Located in Church Street, the Regent Picture Theatre is a fine example of an Art Deco 1930s picture theatre. Designed by Douglas Smith was opened in 1935. It still has some particularly impressive murals of Disney characters.

9. St Mary of the Presentation Roman Catholic Church
At the south-eastern corner of Market and Church Streets is the Gothic Revival St Mary of the Presentation Catholic Church. The sanctuary and vestry are part of the original 1857 sandstone building, with the present body added in 1873-76 and the steeple in 1911. The presbytery (1851-52) is one of the oldest standing buildings in Mudgee. The church has an interesting mixture of Gothic and Byzantine architecture and the artist George de Pyro painted the impressive Stations of the Cross. 

10. Loneragan's Store
Stretching along Church Street, beyond St John the Baptist Church is Loneragan's Store which was opened as a department store in 1873 and continued trading until 1984. Today it is divided up into smaller shops.

11. Kelly's Irish Pub
Now known as Kelly's Irish Pub, the hotel on the corner of Church Street and Mortimer Street has been variously known as The Mudgee, The Waratah, Lamont's General Store and The Sydney Hotel.

13. The Uniting Church
Located at 89 Mortimer Street is the Methodist (now Uniting) Church which was built 1863-64. The first Wesleyan Chapel was built in 1853 and is now incorporated into the block of shops at the corner of Mortimer and Church Streets. 

16. Cobb & Co Boutique Hotel
Located on the corner of Perry and Market Streets, this fascinating historic building, now called Cobb & Co Court, was built in the 1850s, is one of the oldest buildings in Mudgee, and was once used as an overnight stopping place by Cobb & Co Coaches.

Other Places of Interest Around Mudgee
Lawson Park
Located beyond the Regent Picture Theatre (the corner of Church Street and Short Street) is Lawson Park which is located on the banks of the Cudgegong River. It is an ideal place for a picnic. It also has a swimming pool and childrens' play facilities. The park has two sandstone monuments - one constructed in 1910 to commemorate 50 years of local government and the other dating from 1921 and recording the centenary of the arrival of Europeans in the district.

Colonial Inn Museum
Located at 126 Market Street, just beyond Robertson Park, the Colonial Inn Museum was previously the West End Hotel (It was built in 1856). The museum website (https://www.mudgeemuseum.com) explains that it "has a broad range of items in its collection, principally from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and with many items of Australian manufacture. The collection contains circa 60,000 items displayed in several buildings on site which include a mid-nineteenth century hotel, an early twentieth century church, and a replica of a slab hut." The hotel includes a bar, parlour, bedroom and kitchen have been recreated in 1870s fashion with some of the items coming from the old Budgee Budgee Inn. It  is open Monday - Friday 10.00 am - 3.00 pm, Saturday 10.00 am - 5.00 pm and Sunday 10.00 am - 2.00 pm, tel: (02) 6372 7395.

Railway Station
Located at the corner of Church and Inglis Streets is the impressive and elegant Victorian-era railway station with its elaborate French Empire style roof. It was designed by John Whitton and built 1883-84. It is now home to Mandurah Studio which displays local arts and crafts.

Flirtation Hill Lookout
If you continue south along Church Street and take the second right into Madeira Road, then the third right at the top of the hill, you will reach Flirtation Hill Lookout which offers a panoramic view of the entire town. Historically known as “The favourite walk of loving couples” . It was once covered with shade trees and was the favourite walk of loving couples. In the early 1950s Ernest Hume wrote Historical Notes on Mudgee and District, NSW, 1821-195- and observed: "On Sunday afternoons and evenings, the local band would play at the foot of the hills whilst half of Mudgee’s population promenaded about ... So much was the locality patronised that an enterprising cabman named George Brown came from Sydney and carried passengers to and from the hill at sixpence per fare.” 

 

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Other Attractions in the Area

Mudgee Vineyards
The Mudgee area is now the third largest wine growing area in New South Wales. There are over 40 vineyards in the valley and most have cellar doors. To find out more in detail about the individual wineries check out https://www.mudgeewine.com.au/wineries which lists the wineries to the north, east and west of the town and provides hot links to the specific winery websites.

Mudgee Honey Haven
Mudgee Honey Haven is located at 2 Hill End Road and accessed by driving north-west on the Castlereagh Highway. By the usual standards of honey shops, it is huge and offered all kinds of honey-related products - pure honey, creamed honey, gourmet honey, beepower active honey, beeswax, beeswax furniture polish, candles and soaps made from beeswax, skin and healthcare products and even honey wine (that's mead). The shop is open daily and there is an 18 hole putt putt course and live bees on display, tel: (02) 6372 4478 or check out http://www.mudgeehoneyhaven.com.au.

Henry Lawson's Heritage Trail
For serious Lawson enthusiasts, the booklet Gulgong Historical Walk (available in Gulgong at the Henry Lawson Centre) includes a section on the Henry Lawson Heritage Trail.
Lawson (1867-1922) had very strong ties to the Mudgee-Gulgong district. His parents were married in Mudgee in 1866 and Henry was born at the Grenfell goldfields. He was raised, from the age of six months to 15 years, in a cottage 8 km north of Mudgee at Eurunderee (then known as 'Pipeclay'), which was established after a gold find in 1863. He briefly attended the local Catholic school. Lawson famously told stories at Mudgee's Miner's Arms Hotel and wrote much of his work while living in the area.
The Henry Lawson Heritage Trail drive tour covers a total of 15 sites associated with Lawson and his writing. Many are only locations, and some are places mentioned by Lawson in his poetry and short stories, which is why this is for serious students of Lawson. Some of the places mentioned include the site of the Old Bark School at Eurunderee; Sapling Gully which Lawson wrote about in His Father's Mate; the site of the Lawson home now the Henry Lawson Memorial; and the Budgee Budgee Inn (out on the Cassilis Road - which was the setting for the famous The Loaded Dog). The trail can be completed as a loop.

Henry Lawson Memorial
The Henry Lawson Memorial, which is located on Henry Lawson Drive, is an elegantly landscaped picnic area which has a well-preserved brick fireplace which is all that remains of the Lawson family house which was demolished in 1946. It is 8 km north of Mudgee on the right-hand side of Henry Lawson Drive. It is now edged by two vineyards.

Windamere Dam
Windamere Dam, on the Cudgegong River, is located about 38 km south-east of Mudgee. It was completed in 1984 "to meet irrigation, stock and domestic needs in the Cudgegong Valley". The main attractions of the Dam and Lake are camping (with cabins and caravan sites), water sports (skiing, sailing, canoeing, swimming) and fishing (the lake is stocked with golden perch, Murray cod, silver perch and catfish). The lake covers 20 square kilometres with a total capacity of 368.12 gigalitres. The wall of the dam is 825 metres long and 67 metres high. For more information check out http://www.waternsw.com.au/supply/visit/windamere-dam.
Cudgegong Waters Park, located just off the Mudgee Road at the southern end of the dam, has the only boat ramp onto Windamere Dam as well as cabins, campsites, barbecue areas, on-site caravans, a concrete boat ramp and a kiosk selling bait, lures, ice, groceries and petrol. For more information check out http://www.cudgegongwatersparkwindameredam.com.

Goulburn River National Park
The Goulburn River National Park is located 58 km north-east of Mudgee via Ulan and Wollar Roads. Established in 1983 it covers over 70,000 ha of land which stretches for 90 km along the Goulburn River which wends its way past sandstone cliffs, caves and gorges that contain more than 300 Aboriginal sites, reflecting the fact that the area was situated on a major trading route between the coast and the western plains. 
The park is a haven for animal, bird and plant life. Expect to see emus, eastern grey kangaroos, red-necked wallabies, wombats and turquoise parrots.
There are two obvious roads into the National Park: 
(a) the 22 km (one way) Spring Gully Drive which heads north from Wollar Road to the Big River Campsite where you can enjoy swimming, canoeing, bushwalking, photography and wildlife observation. The National Parks entry notes: "When you arrive at Spring Gully campground, treat yourself by jumping straight into the Goulburn River, or throw in your fishing line to see if you can catch something for lunch – the waters of the Goulburn River make this an angler’s dream. Or if you’d like to stretch your legs after a long car journey, take a walk along the river past sandstone cliffs, which are home to Aboriginal sites, such as hand stencils." Check out http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/driving-routes/spring-gully-drive.
(b) Lees Pinch which is further east on Wollar Road and which has a one kilometre walking track (it takes between 30 minutes and an hour) which offers three different lookout points all offering scenic views over the Goulburn River and surrounding countryside. Check out http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/lees-pinch-lookout-walking-track for greater detail.
The park is known as an ideal place for swimming, canoeing, bushwalking, photography and wildlife observation. For more detailed information tel: (02) 6370 9000 or https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/goulburn-river-national-park.

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was home to the Wiradjuri Aboriginal people.

* The first European in the district was James Blackman who headed north to the Mudgee area from what is now Wallerawang in 1821. He was the first European to cross the Cudgegong River.

* In November, 1821 William Lawson, a member of the first European party to cross the Blue Mountains in 1813, reached the district.

* In 1822 the sons of William Cox (the man who built the road across the Blue Mountains), George and Henry Cox, established their property Menah 3 km from where Mudgee stands today.

* In 1824 martial law was declared and armed settlers roamed the countryside murdering Aborigines on sight.

* By the early 1830s William Lawson took up 6,000 acres along the Cudgegong River. 

* A police station and lock-up were established in 1833.  

* By 1837 Blackman had built a slab building.

* In 1838 Robert Hoddle surveyed the town.

* The village of Mudgee was officially gazetted in 1838.

* By 1841 there were 36 dwellings, mostly of slab construction, including three hotels, a hospital, a post office, two stores and the first Anglican church.

* The first school (Anglican) was established in a slab hut in the 1840s.

* The police station was moved from Menah to Mudgee in the mid-1840s. 

* The population had reached about 200 by 1851. 

* A German immigrant started growing grapes in the 1850s.

* The West End Hotel was built in 1856.

* Methodist and Presbyterian churches, the present Catholic and Anglican churches and the first National school were all built in the 1850s. 

* St Mary's Catholic Church was consecrated in 1857.

* Mudgee was declared a municipality in 1860.

* Tattersalls Hotel was opened in 1860.

* As a result of the goldrushes the population increased to 1500 by 1861.

* Between 1860-1865 a police station, courthouse, post office, mechanics institute, the present Uniting Church and a town hall were built.

* Henry Lawson's parents were married in Mudgee in 1866.

* William Cox claimed the last local Aborigine died in 1876. 

* The railway arrived in 1884.

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Visitor Information

Mudgee Visitor Information Centre, 84 Market Street, tel: (02) 6372 1020. It is open from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. 

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Useful Websites

There is a downloadable and very comprehensive 84 page brochure which can be obtained at http://cdn.wisdom.com.au/MudgeeVisitorsGuide/MRT-2017-Visitor-Guide-FLIPBOOK.html.

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