Best for wine:
Mudgee sits surrounded by a rural countryside of slow-munching cattle, hopping kangaroos and hillsides contoured with vineyards.
Vines have been grown here since the 1840s and Australia’s first chardonnay grapes were planted in Mudgee in 1971, yet it has long been overlooked as a wine region. That’s all changing, with mainstream grape varieties giving way to interesting, alternative varieties such as sangiovese, barbera and petit verdot.
At Vinifera Wines (vinifera wines.com.au), Spanish grapes include tempranillo, garnacha, graciano and gran tinto.
‘‘ I noticed the similarity of Mudgee’s climate to that of Spain’s Rioja region,’’ owner Tony McKendry says. ‘‘ I thought, why do the same old thing when something new could be better?’’
Further into the countryside at Lowe Wines (lowewine.com.au), zinfandel is the alternative of choice, along with cool-climate whites normally associated with New Zealand.
Mudgee’s cellar doors offer visitors more than just sipping and spitting. Gooree Park Wines (gooreepark.com) hosts wagyu beef barbecues and visits to its horse stud.
Others offer cooking or art classes, sculpture exhibitions, cheese-making demonstrations, and there’s even a motorcycle museum.
‘‘ With good dining, increasingly luxury accommodation and plenty to do, Mudgee really is a great getaway,’’ McKendry says. More: visitmudgeeregion.com.au Where to eat Local winemakers hang out at Roth’s Wine Bar.
There’s a great wine list, live music in the courtyard, and indulgent gourmet pizzas and tapas. rothswinebar.com.au