My home town of Mudgee, Central West NSW, is already a popular weekend destination for Sydneysiders and others in need of a little down time and indulgence, but there is more to Mudgee than food and wine.
I am convinced that many people spend a sumptuous weekend in Mudgee without realising that there is a vast selection of natural wonders right on our door step. OK, ‘natural wonders’ may be a slight exaggeration, but we do have a delightful range of easy day walks and national parks that are within minutes, or less than an hour’s drive, of the Mudgee town clock.
The Mudgee Common
I am not sure that even the locals know about the Mudgee Common. It is located right on the edge of town and is a large patch of natural bushland, just perfect for walking and birdwatching. The amazingly wet Spring we experienced in September 2016 generated the most spectacular and diverse range of wildflowers I have ever seen since I started regularly walking there in 2001. There is nothing better than starting the day with an early morning stroll through the bush accompanied by the spicy scent of eucalypts and the welcoming good morning call of the local family of kookaburras.
The Common adjoins the Avisford Nature Reserve, and if you are feeling very energetic, it is possible to scramble up the hills and follow the ridge line in an easterly direction around to the Redbank area of the Reserve, on the eastern side of Mudgee. There are no real walking tracks or paths to follow on this walk, except the odd fire trail or animal track. Take plenty of water and sunscreen, and enjoy the breathtaking views over Mudgee. This route will take you near Mt Misery telecommunications towers. You can get an idea of what awaits you by sneaking a peek at Council’s webcam located on the top of Mt Misery.
A little less energetic, but no less beautiful, is the walk through the historic Lawson Park just on the edge of the Mudgee CBD, and alongside the Cudgegong River. Mid-Western Regional Council has been doing a great job over recent years developing walking and cycling paths that make the most of the lush river environment.
The path connects the original Lawson Park, amidst grand old river gums, to the newly redeveloped Lawson Park West. Make sure you pause a moment to take in the curious sculptural pieces that make up the Mudgee Sculpture Walk. Many pieces are right next to the path – you can’t miss them!
The path continues over the river to the Glen Willow Sporting precinct and, if you would like to complete the full loop, simply follow the path back to Cassilis Road, back over the bridge over the Cudgegong River, and back into town for a restorative coffee. This loop/path is approximately five kilometres long and is mostly good, smooth concrete.
Putta Bucca Wetlands
The Putta Bucca Wetlands has been an exciting and evolving project driven by passionate local birdwatchers and supported by Council. Located on Putta Bucca Road, again right on the edge of Mudgee, it features 2km of walking paths and two bird hides. The wetlands are fed by the Cudgegong River and provide a welcoming home for a wide range of birdlife. Try to get out there early in the morning when the mist hovers above the water and birds skim the mirror-like surface.
A short drive from Mudgee is…
The Drip is located about 50km north of Mudgee on the Cassilis Road. This gorgeous piece of nature has an established picnic area and an enjoyable 1.5km walking track to the rocky overhang called The Drip.
The track meanders along adjacent to the Goulburn River, through gorges and across riverbanks. Obviously the amount of water in the river (and dripping from The Drip itself) varies with seasonal conditions, but even in drier times, it is a pretty stroll through eucalypts, wattles and ferns. The area is rich in birdlife as well as kangaroos, wombats and wallabies. Make sure you wear covered, solid footwear as the odd snake has been known to enjoy the area too!
A further 2.3km past The Drip on the Cassilis Road, is a significant site featuring Aboriginal art, called “Hands on Rock”. After turning off the road, about 100m into the bush, there is a small clearing. Park all vehicles here and take the walking track located on the far side of the clearing. The rock formation and art work is approximately 400m through the bushland. Art works include stencils of hands, made by the original inhabitants of this land, the Wiradjuri people.
Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve
In a slightly different direction but roughly the same area, 35km north-east of Mudgee on the Wollar Road, is the Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve. This reserve conserves 6 800ha of sandstone pagodas and natural bushland.
If you are a keen ‘twitcher’ or birdwatcher, you must include this reserve in your itinerary. 164 species of birds have been spotted here including Lyrebirds, Emus, and the rare Regent Honeyeater.
A picnic area, with toilets can be found at Moolarben Day Use Area and at Honeyeater Flat. It is possible to camp at Honeyeater Flat, but bookings must be made with National Parks & Wildlife Service. Included in the Reserve is The Castle Rocks Walking Track, an easy 8km (return) walk to an area of stately pagoda rock formations and providing superb views to the south of the region.
All that fresh air and exercise is sure to work up a good appetite. A decent walk will open up all the senses to the beauty of the region AND may avoid all those delicious calories going straight to the hips!
Can you walk and drink wine at the same time?
What: All the walks are free and suitable for walkers of all ages and levels of fitness. Stay safe and carry plenty of water and your mobile phone in case of emergency. The walks close to Mudgee will be within mobile telephone range. Wear a good hat, solid footwear and plenty of sunscreen. To really tap into local knowledge, or join an organised walk, contact the Mudgee Bushwalking and Bike Riding group.
Where: The walks mentioned in this blog are located either on the very edge of town or within a 30 minute drive.
When: All the walks are accessible seven days a week. In Summer, make sure you are up-to-date with any warnings around fire dangers etc.
Why: Fresh air, exercise, pungent scents of eucalypts and wattles, and the sounds of silence.
How: It is possible to walk to the walks that border the town, however you will need a car to drive to the more remote locations. Please note, Mudgee has limited public transport options except for taxis.
Who: All the walks are suitable for people of all ages and levels of fitness. The fitter you are, the easier it will be.
Related Posts: For information about a decadent food and wine event in Mudgee, just perfect for putting together a tasty picnic or walking hamper, have a look at my post about the Flavours of Mudgee street fair.
Related Blogs: For a really comprehensive coverage of some walks in and around Mudgee, have a read of this Daily Telegraph article.