Bungendore is bang on
This historic village is a mere 40 minutes’ drive from Canberra and sits in a gorgeous green valley near Lake George. Be charmed by its well-preserved colonial buildings built using stone, timber and brick, with enough galleries and shops to give your credit card a workout.
One place where you will definitely need to spend a while is Bungendore Wood Works Gallery, which is chock-a-block with stunning pieces. Faves are the wooden clocks and the handcrafted furniture. Even the gallery is a work of art, created using Australian materials like Jarrah, Tassie Oak, Flooded Gum and Victorian Ash. The Suki & Hugh Gallery is another must with excellent art.
On the food side of things, book in for a meal or a cooking class at Le Tres Bon under maestro Christophe Gregoire. If you’re into truffles, visit Turalla Truffles just out of town, and pick your own chestnuts at Tweenhills Chestnuts in season.
Stay in Bungendore. The Old Stone House, originally built in 1861, turns 160 in 2021. It has four rooms and three living spaces, including Snug Bar. Visit theoldstonehouse.com.au.
Be-cide yourself in Braidwood
Sitting pretty about halfway between Canberra and the South Coast, Braidwood has a great vibe and more than enough things to do to waylay travellers. There are antique stores to tempt you, and a swag of excellent foodie haunts to fill your stomach and your esky.
One stalwart is Sully’s Cider at the Old Cheese Factory, which makes cider using similar techniques to those used here in the 1860s. Try beautiful bread at Dojo’s, Himalayan cuisine at the Smokey Horse, and sneak a drink at Trooper’s Rest Bar. Do not leave Braidwood without visiting Provisions Deli and Creperie. Try the amazing French buckwheat galettes – they’re famous in these parts, as are the French crepes.
If in town on the first or third Saturday of the month, wander Braidwood Farmers’ Markets, held at the National Theatre.
Stay in Braidwood. Mona Farm is country life at its best; a farm stay experience in luxurious and well-appointed historic buildings. The gardens are spectacular, so allow time to just relax. Couples should stay at The Old Stables, while The Homestead suits bigger groups.
For something different, stay in the cutest tiny houses at Saddle Camp. They’re fully self-contained, including kitchen and bathroom, with high ceilings and windows. Go for a horse ride while you are there.
Canberra really has a lot of cool stuff, and if you haven’t been for a while revisit the War Memorial, the National Museum of Australia, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery and of course, Parliament House. The place where pollies get up to mischief is fascinating and well worth a few hours of your time.
Sweet as Murrumbateman
Murrumbateman is on the other side of the Federal Highway in the Yass Valley, and only 30 minutes from Canberra and an hour and a quarter from Braidwood. It’s a former gold mining town and the gold these days is of the liquid variety with 20 boutique wineries competing for your taste buds and your dollar.
Make a list of wineries to visit and make sure Clonakilla is on it, as well as Helm Wines and Long Rail Gully. The Vintner’s Daughter is also highly recommended, and has quite the view, while Poacher’s Pantry is another must. This place has the Wily Trout vineyard and the Smokehouse Restaurant, which specialises in smoked meats.
As we all love something sweet with our wines, make room in your bags for the goodies you’re sure to buy when you visit Robyn Rowe Chocolates. These hand-crafted sweet jewels are made using the highest quality imported Belgian Callebaut Fair Trade couverture. Now that’s a don’t miss!
If these earthy morsels – tuber melanosporum to the initiated – are your cup of tea, you can find truffles aplenty in this part of NSW. Near Bungendore, join the Jack Russell terriers at Turalla Truffles to sniff out the black gold in winter. Braidwood has a number of truffle farms as well, including the family-run Terra Preta. And while in Canberra, visit Canberra Truffle Farm – the only commercial truffle farm in the world functioning within a capital city.
Tipple at Lake George
It’s all about the wine in this area, a stone’s throw from Bungendore. There are wonderful vineyards including Lark Hill Biodynamic Winery. Book in for a tasting at the cellar door and try the Exaltation. Also check out the restaurant, D & K Kitchen .
Who wouldn’t want to stop at a winery called Contentious Character? It’s one of the highest in the area and makes Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling. They even run yoga at this winery. Also visit Lake George Winery, with co-owner Sarah McDougall winning a ‘Women in Wine’ award and Lerida Estate, located at the foot of the Cullerin Range with very tasty Pinor Noir.