Central NSW Food & Wine Trail
Take a journey and discover classic country towns and hospitality. From quaint towns with outstanding cuisine and wine to spectacular lookouts and waterfalls, Central NSW is the star of this delicious four-day road trip through Australia’s food bowl.
Feast on farm-to-table fare, visit farm gates and artisan producers, and discover an exciting mix of microbreweries, distilleries and cellar doors.
Lithgow (Day 1)
Begin your gastronomic adventures in Lithgow, in the western foothills of the Blue Mountains. This Central Tablelands town is a good base to explore artisan producers.
If you’re travelling from Sydney and need some sustenance on the way, Lolly Bug is a sweet pit-stop on the Great Western Highway just 10min before Lithgow. Shop lollies and chocolates from around the world, including the US, the UK and New Zealand, hand-made fudge, gifts, and gourmet foods.
Make a detour north and call in to Jannei Goat Dairy, a multi award-winning fromagerie, 15min away in Lidsdale. Sample soft and semi-hard goat cheese, including the acclaimed Bûche Noir and Bent Back Chèvre, and stock up on goat’s cheese, milk and yoghurt for the road.
Continue on this road to Craft Works Whisky distillery, located at the back of the Capertee Hotel in Capertee about 30min outside of Lithgow. Learn about the ‘grain to cask’ process from distiller “Crafty” and taste a flight of four single malt whiskies, also available in the pub.
Bathurst (Day 1)
Return to the Great Western Highway and continue to Bathurst, where you’ll find a food scene focused on regional produce.
Grab a coffee or snack at Harvest Cafe and Store, next door to the Bathurst Visitor’s Centre. Sit on the terrace and enjoy produce showcasing local artisans and growers.
Then dine alfresco at Vine & Tap, an Italian spuntini bar and restaurant with a leafy courtyard. Graze a share menu of inventive Italian dishes celebrating regional produce paired with local or Italian wines.
Continue on to the Mitchell Highway to Beekeeper’s Inn, a former Cobb & Co station turned food emporium with pretty lake views. Order a sweet treat or Devonshire tea in the café, or a tasting paddle from 1859 Brewing Co. Before leaving, peruse the antiques and farm shop, and sample the range of Goldfields Honey produced by more than 6,000 hives.
Orange (Day 1)
A 45min drive away, this picturesque town is surrounded by fruit orchards, vineyards and gently rolling hills.
Spend the afternoon with Orange Wine Tours or self-drive to local cellar doors, tasting regional varieties like chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. Don’t miss Rowlee Wines, Philip Shaw and Ross Hill Wines. Alternatively, hone your culinary skill at Barrel and Larder Cooking School.Next, sample craft brews and cheese at the Agrestic Grocer, an ethical cafe-grocer and the tasting room for Badlands Craft Brewers and the Second Mouse Cheese Company.
Prefer to be outdoors? Pick berries and vegetables at Huntley Berry Farm. Or time your trip to coincide with the Orange Farmers Market, held the second Saturday of every month.
For panoramic sunset views, snag a terrace seat at Sisters Rock Restaurant, overlooking the vines at Borodell Estate. Or venture to hatted Tonic Restaurant, 30min away in Millthorpe, for an impeccable paddock-to-plate degustation.
Canowindra (Day 2)
Today, drive southwest to Canowindra, an historic village on the Belubula River surrounded by farmland and cellar doors.
Stop along the way at Wallington Wines, an organic olive grove and winery on Bald Hill, the historic lookout of infamous bushranger Ben Hall. Sit beneath the vines and sip, swirl and taste grenache-based blends with minimal intervention. Pair your tasting with a cheese board or wood-fired pizza.
Once in Canowindra, stroll the heritage-listed bend of Gaskill Street, a period streetscape with a handful of galleries, cafes and homewares stores. Stop for a drink or lunch at the Royal Hotel Canowindra, a rustic country pub with a weekend farm-to-table restaurant and local wines.
Then swing by Rosnay Organic Farm and Vineyard, a rustic cellar door with peaceful views across the valley. Try olives and figs fresh from the tree, and savour minimal intervention vegan wines made with wild yeasts.
Cowra (Day 2)
Continue your food trails in Cowra, in the Lachlan Valley, a half-hour drive south along Rivers Road and Canowindra Road. This rural gem is easy to explore on foot, with pretty Victorian streetscapes.
Visit Ochre Arch Farm, a 480-hectare working cattle and wool farm, an hour out of Cowra. Meet the farmer, learn about water management and sustainable farming, before a farmhouse afternoon tea.
Back in town, retrace Cowra’s past on a one-hour heritage walk, taking in the 19th century Stone Flour Mill and the Australia Hotel. Use the Heritage Walks Brochure from the Visitor’s Centre as your guide.
Stroll tranquil beauty in Cowra Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre. Feed the koi (carp) and stop by the café, a menu that nods to Japanese cuisine.
End the day at Quarry Restaurant & Cellar Door, a seasonal regional menu showcasing the Lachlan Valley. Taste a handful of boutique wines and dine amid the vines. Leave room for their ‘pudding’ desserts.
Parkes (Day 3)
Set off early for Parkes, a vibrant town with street art and historic gold trails, a 45min drive from Cowra.Continue onto the CSIRO Parkes Observatory, set amid farmland off the Newell Highway. See the heritage-listed The Dish, the massive 64m radio telescope famous for beaming the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing to the world.
Then explore astronomy and space at the Visitor Discovery Centre. Here you can learn about The Dish, get hands-on with fun interactive exhibitions, or dive into the cosmos in the 3D theatre. Browse the shop or take part in a fun scavenger hunt.
Stop by the viewing platform, a prime spot to watch The Dish.
Dubbo (Day 3)
Back in the car, continue north along the Newell Highway to Dubbo, a bustling regional city on the banks of Macquarie River.
Visit the Dubbo Farmer’s Market, held every first and third Saturday, and browse more than 50 stalls selling fresh & gourmet foods, cheese, honey, flowers, local wine and eggs.
Pop into Red Earth Estate for a wine tasting, then continue onto Lazy River Cafe for a laidback lunch overlooking the river and vines. Be sure to try their Lazy Estate lager.
Next, visit Taronga Western Plains Zoo for the ultimate zoofari. Tour the 5.3km loop on a hire bike or cart and get up close to giraffes, rhinos, elephants and big cats. See zookeeper talks and experience unique animal encounters.
End the day in Wellington, 30min south of Dubbo, with a sunset dinner at The Grange, a relaxed seasonal restaurant with idyllic views of the valley from within Hermitage Hill Wines.
Mudgee (Day 4)
Drive 90min to Mudgee, your final destination, and discover why this historic town is such an award-winning wine region. Home to vineyards, restaurants and a yesteryear vibe, you’ll be charmed.
Pop into cellar doors at Robert Stein Wines and De Beaurepaire Wines, and sample the craft beer at Mudgee Brewing Co, a boutique microbrewery in town. Then visit Logan Wines, perched on the hilltop at Apple Flat, and taste elegant wines paired with cheese.
Couple enjoying a visit to Lowe Wines, Mudgee
Swing by Lowe Wines, en route to town, and sip small batch biodynamic wines, including the famed zinfandel. Then settle in for a long lunch at Zin House, their farmhouse restaurant. The set menu focuses on slow food, grown locally.
Alternatively, set out on a walking farm tour with Mudgee Fine Foods, a chance to meet the maker and learn about seasonal produce. Or don your chef’s hat at The Little Cooking School, and share the fruits of your labour over wine.