Home' Open Road Western NSW : OR1118 Contents You can watch the bees at work
through a special glass window
that looks into their hive
We head back to town for dinner and drive extra-carefully.
With the drought, there are more kangaroos on the road than
usual, and they have a habit of jumping out of nowhere,
particularly at dawn and dusk.
It’s easy to be distracted by the many, many wineries, but if
you’re looking for a different tasting experience, the Mudgee
Honey Haven is the place to go. As a result of the recent honey
additive scandal affecting many popular supermarket brands,
demand for pure, locally-grown honey has surged. The Mudgee
Honey Haven is famous for its large range which is available to
taste, as well as anything else that can possibly be made from
honey and beeswax. Best of all, you can watch bees at work
through a special glass window that looks into their hive. It’s a
real eye-opener for the four-year-old beside us who’s shocked
to learn where honey comes from.
A few blocks out of the town centre stands the Mudgee
Railway Station. Back in 1884, its grand opening was a
momentous moment for Mudgee. The whole town held a two-
day celebration, complete with decorations and a banquet, when
the first train arrived there on Wednesday morning, September
10. An enormous feast was prepared in Market Square for the
celebrating townspeople and visitors. A roast bullock, 500 or
600 loaves of bread and many 10-gallon casks of beer were
consumed. That evening, a public ball was held in the Engine
Shed to commemorate the opening of the ‘Rail Line’.
Today, Mudgee Railway Station is heritage listed, but, sadly,
the passenger train ceased in 1985. While locals continue to
lobby for a new train service, the station is currently being used
as a pick-up point for a coach service to Lithgow, where
passengers can then catch the train to Sydney. After admiring
the beautiful external architecture of the historic building, I
spend 10 minutes in the Arts and Crafts Mudgee gallery, located
inside the station. The rooms are packed with locally-made
handiwork but I restrict myself to buying a simple-yet-exquisite
scarf – locally hand-dyed and knitted using wool from the
district’s merino sheep – to remember my visit.
Later, we drive 18km north along Henry Lawson Drive and
stop to read a brass plaque on the roadside: “Here stood the
boyhood home of Henry Lawson, writer and poet.” The cottage
no longer exists, but from the spot that would have been the
front gate, you can gain an understanding of his lifelong
connection to the bush, which made his stories and poems
resonate so deeply with Australians at the time, while gazing
out to the same distant hills that young Henry also looked upon.
The drive to Orange takes around two and a half hours and
makes me think about two things the town is known for: its
legendary cold winters and rich volcanic soil. From my home in
Sydney, I ’m always bemused to see a forecast of snow in Orange,
but am more convinced when we drive past bright poles marking
the depth of roadside snow. As a result of these chilly nights,
Orange is recognised for its cool climate wines – there are 40
wineries for visitors to explore – and fruit like apples, pears,
cherries and plums. In fact, chances are you’ve bought many a
bag of fruit from your local supermarket, wherever you live in
Australia, which has been grown in Orange’s fertile soil.
The town has also gained a reputation for fine food, local
produce and award-winning restaurants. There are 40 cafés,
many with quality coffee and expert baristas – a further
reminder that the country towns of today have far more to offer
than they did 30 years ago, when instant coffee was likely the
only option on the menu.
Despite its name, don’t expect to see any orange groves in
Orange as it’s too cool for them to grow. The town was actually
named after Prince William of Orange in 1846. It’s confusing
and I expect the locals are sick of explaining it.
Mudgee’s grand Victorian
era buildings give the town
a unique charm. When the
Railway Station (above
left) opened in 1884 the
town had a huge party to
celebrate. The palatial post
office (above) dates back
even further to 1862.
22/10/18 5:30 pm
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