We just got back from a one week camping trip in the country. It was one of our favourite trips we’ve done, although it was freezing with temperatures dropping to -7 overnight and freezing the taps in the caravan parks, it was still an awesome trip with so many new experiences that I can’t wait to share with you…
Our first stop was Wagga Wagga which we spent an afternoon & night and where we enjoyed an olive grove tour at Wollundry Grove Olives. The tour cost’s $5 each and the owner took us through the olive trees, explained a lot about how they grow and how the olives are harvested. We then got shown all the machinery and were told how the olives are processed and then turned into olive oil. We then got to taste some different olive oils and marinated olives.
It was a great little experience!
On our way to our next stop, we stopped in at Coolamon, a sleepy little country town but surprisingly a bit to see there!
For a gold coin donation we took a tour through the Up-To-Date Store, which houses antique clothing, farm machinery, fences and wagons. It was a very interesting place to visit.
Across the road from the Up-To-Date Store, there is a Fire Museum which has all sorts of fire fighter memorabilia from all over the world. Also for a gold coin donation the owner gave us a tour and explained various items to us. We would never usually have gone into a place like this, but considering we were there we gave it a go and actually found it quite interesting.
The whole purpose we stopped in at Coolamon was for the cheese factory, which we did go to but unfortunately didn’t try any cheese because it was just too expensive! The place itself was gorgeous but we couldn’t justify paying over $30 for only 3 small pieces of cheese!
So back on the road we went, onto our next destination – Griffith.
DAY 2 & 3
The next 2 days were spent exploring Griffith. A place I have been wanting to visit for over 2 years. There was quite a bit to do here, hence why we stayed 2 nights.
Griffith is known mainly for growing oranges, as well as cotton. Everywhere you go there are orange trees and paddocks of cotton as well as vineyards. Unfortunately we went at a bad time as all the cotton was already harvested and the vineyards wern’t producing grapes but on the other hand it was the perfect time to see all the oranges.
The first place we visited in Griffith was Warburn Estate who make my favourite Moscato: The Gossips Range! So of course I had to buy a bottle!
From there we went to Calabria Family Wines for a few tastings and of course we walked out with another bottle of wine!
After a few wine tastings, it was time to taste some food. We went to Riverina Grove. A small grocery like store in an industrial area of Griffith but home to various local made produce such as jams and chutneys. Tastings are allowed. We tasted some yummy olives (which of course I couldn’t leave without).
We drove to a Walnut Farm, unfortunately there were no tours or anything on offer, so we just took some photos and left. Still great to see something different though.
From the walnut farm, we went to Southern Cotton for a cotton tour. For a gold coin donation, we got a 45 minute tour of the factory and were able to watch the ginning process of the cotton. It was an amazing experience and we even got given a packet of cotton seeds to try and grow at home!
From Southern Cotton, we went to Catania Fruit Salad Farm for another tour. The tour costs $15 per person and the tour consists of a video as well as a drive through the farm on a bus but unfortunately for us it was raining the day we went and the owner wasn’t there to give the proper tour so the manager did his best for us but we didn’t get the real tour. It was still great though and we got to try a few different nuts and fruits and honeys etc..the chocolate honey was my favourite so of course I had to bring one home!
The rain started slowing down by now, so we decided to go to Summit Hill Lookout which is also home to Hermit’s Cave.
We had one more stop to make in Griffith – De Bortoli Winery We went here only because we know the name. We did visit a few vineyards on this trip but what were we meant to do when we were surrounded by beautiful vineyards everywhere we went?
De Bortoli vineyard wasn’t really anything nice to look at considering how well named it is, but we did a tasting and the lady that served us was great, so we walked out with a dessert liqueur.
With Griffith finally explored, we drove toward our next destination. We drove through a town called Ardlethan which is known for the cattle dog. In it’s brochure it said there was a cattle dog statue in the town, so we drove around looking for what we thought would be this grand statue of a cattle dog, but all we found was this:
So a bit disappointing but still very creative. We drove passed it a couple of times before finally noticing it!
So we kept going and soon after reached Forbes. We had planned to stop here for a bit and explore the town but unfortunately there wasn’t anything there to explore that interested us, so we kept driving.
We then reached Parkes. Known for their Elvis festival held every February. There is an Elvis museum in the information centre and everything!
In one of the many brochures I accumulated on this trip, I saw an interesting tourist attraction in the middle of nowhere (an hour from Parkes), so we decided to check it out.
Utes in the Paddock is what it’s called and it was awesome! People donate utes to artists who then transform them into amazing art work like this:
There are 12 in total and it was so worth the drive to see this because it’s like nothing else we’d seen before!
Our next stop in Parkes in the famous Dish (AKA Parke’s Observatory). For those who have seen the movie ‘The Dish‘, you will know what this is.
I personally didn’t like the movie at all but to see the dish up close and personal was pretty amazing. We watched a 3D movie which was nothing about the dish but about the other planets but still pretty interesting to watch.
After seeing the dish, we drove to Peak Hill to see the open cut goldmine. We had never seen one before so we thought it would be cool to go see this one. And it was pretty cool.
After Peak Hill we hit the road again but not for long because our next stop was Orange.
We had high hopes for this town thinking there would be a lot to see and do here, but unfortunately for us it was a big fail and we ended up shopping to pass the time.
There was one vineyard we went to for their cheese tastings, Heifer Station – the place was gorgeous and rustic, but the prices were ridiculous, so we left.
We arrived in Mudgee. A beautiful place surrounded by vineyards and I couldn’t wait to explore it.
Our first stop was at High Valley Cheese Co for some complimentary cheese tastings, which were yumo! And conveniently located next door was The cellar by Gilbert where we had some wine tastings.
Baker Williams distillery was next on our list, where we tasted some schnapps, gin & liqueur. It wasn’t really our cup of tea but it was something different!
Aril Estate was next and this is one I was looking forward to. A pomegranate and olive farm! Yum! Here we got to taste various olives, olive oils and pomegranate syrup which I couldn’t leave without. This was a great experience.
We started off our second day in Mudgee attending St Mary’s Catholic Church.
From church we went to Honey Haven & Cafe which was a great place! We’d never seen anything quite like it. There were so many honey related items and the tasting table was massive! We enjoyed this shop so much that we had a lovely morning tea there once we had decided on which honey to buy – so much choice but nothing beats original.
Once finished from the amazing honey shop, we went in search for the famous ‘Frog Rock’. Situated on the side of the road, this rock formation in the shape of a frog is how the town got it’s name. Can you see the frog?
It was then time for more olive tastings at The Olive Nest . Here we tasted olives, as well as olive oils but none of them took our fancy.
Our next stop was our favourite winery of all. Peter Van Gent winery & vineyard. Here we had some tastings and they were quite nice but what we loved about this place is the atmosphere and decor. As soon as we walked in, we were surrounded by massive wine barrels. One was even made hollow so people can walk through it. It was just amazing. Words can’t really explain it, so I’ll show you:
We had now crossed off everything we wanted to see on our list, so we went for a bike ride through Lawson park which also has a sculpture park in it. Along the path there are small sculptures based on travelling around Australia and the object is to guess the places it represents. These are a few:
That night we went to Mudgee Observatory and it was an experience like no other. I didn’t think we would enjoy it as much as we did. We saw Neptune through a massive telescope and also Saturn which was just unbelievable. That was definitely the highlight of the night for me. Seeing Saturn with it’s rings, it looked fake but amazing. I wish I could have taken a photo of it!
Our last day was spent at Katoomba, where we went to Echo Point Lookout to see the three sisters before checking out the main streets in both Katoomba & Leura and going to the Chocolate shop for afternoon tea.
Our country trip had come to an end but we had the best time! We were only gone for a week but we did so much and saw so much that it felt a lot longer.
Thankfully there were no injuries sustained this time (read my last travel post to find out what I mean).