NEWNES GLOW WORM TUNNELS
We headed away to the coast for Christmas in 2021 and on our way back, we decided to tick off one of our bucket list destinations – the Lithgow Glow Worm Tunnels.
The road to arrive at the Glow Worm Tunnels definitely needs a WARNING!!! It is full of pot-holes, parts of the road are washed away and really, should only be considered in a 4wd – on our way out, we did laugh as we passed by a Hyundai Excel and a VW Golf attempting to traverse.
We arrived early at 9 am and were the first car there. As we headed down the 1km path, we passed a gorgeous forest and fern landscape, narrow gorges and pagoda rock formations that the Wollemi National Park is famous for. Once we arrived at the tunnel itself, which was built in the early 1900s as part of the railway for the mining industry at Newnes, we switched on our torches and stuck to the sides of the tunnel to avoid the trickle of water down the centre. As our 4 sets of eyes adjusted to the darkness, the torches were switched off, the children’s volume was turned down to ‘whisper’ and we spotted hundreds of pinpricks of light from the glow worms.
Totally worth the crazy road, but with little’s, it ended up being a 4-hour detour.
Those of you who have followed us for a while might recognise our banana yellow canoe. It has become an enjoyable pastime to head out to the Macquarie River on a Sunday with the boat or explore a bit further afield. One of our favourite places to canoe and bushwalk on the North Side of the Wollemi National Park is Dunns Swamp. Don’t let the name turn you off, it is a special place on the Cudgegong River that was created when the Kandos Weir was built in the 1920s and is located about 30 minutes from Rylstone.
We spent 3 days there this year. We started with a walk around Platypus Point to the Pagoda Lookout. The information on the National Parks website mentions steep inclines and scrambling over rocks, so be cautious but it is worth it to see the 360-degree view from the top.
After some lunch back at the boat ramp, we jumped in our canoe and paddled out to the dam wall. Along the way we tried to spot a platypus (no luck), did some cliff jumping and found some fish before heading to the Kookaburra Beach inlet where the kids hopped out for a splash around in the shallow water.
There are a few spots to set up camp – in vans/trailers/tents – and there are (probably the cleanest ever) pit toilets, you just need to ensure you book way in advance. We had our own canoe, but if you are looking to hire a canoe or kayak, a SUP or do a guided boat tour, we can recommend https://southerncrosskayaking.com.au/hire/ who are set up there from September to April.
On our second day, we did the Kandos Weir/Long Cave walk which is a relatively easy walk with a couple of steep staircases and lots of places to sit. It is about 5km all up with incredible lookouts and the kids were so excited to spot a turtle in the Weir!
When we booked our accommodation at Franks Breakaway, one of the first suggestions our host gave us was to visit the 29 Nine 99 Yum Cha restaurant. You definitely need to make a reservation in advance. On the day that we had lunch there, we saw 3 groups turned away because they hadn’t booked.
On the menu, Na Lan (owner and chef) has over 30 types of dumplings, steamed buns and desserts. Due to Covid, there is a set menu. The kids loved the goji berry tea and they have requested it a number of times since returning home!
For the grown-ups, Folkologie is a beautiful artisan homewares and gift store that we popped into multiple times and De Beaurepaire Wines is only 2.5 km from Rylstone town and offers a number of French-style wine tasting explorations. Because we had the children with us, we opted to relax out at one of the tables on the lawn and take the “Curious” wine flight – a selection of 4 wines from a choice of 2 whites, 1 rose and 2 reds. Our favourites were the ‘Billet Doux’ Semillon Sauvignon Blanc and the ‘Leopold’ Shiraz-Viognier (not part of the wine flight).
On our final night, we ate at the Globe Hotel, which has a great beer garden with a cubby and play area for the kids, as well as a herb and veggie garden, chooks and guinea pigs. The menu offers typical pub fare – schnitzel, burgers, salmon and ribs, the servings were generous and arrived quickly after ordering, despite being fairly busy so it’s a thumbs up from us!
We will definitely be back in Rylstone! We didn’t make it to Il Vicolo Trattoria or the Saffron Kitchen. We would love to stay in the luxury accommodation at the Old Bank on the main street, but we really enjoyed our off the grid stone cottage on the way to Gunguddy. Also on our to-do list is the Glen Davis Shale Oil Works (tours run on Saturday) and the Ferntree Gully Circuit near Rylstone.
It is no secret that Mudgee is a destination for food and wine lovers. Some of our favourite memories have taken place there, including our wedding! We hit pause on returning to work in Dubbo for an additional night and headed to some of our favourite wineries in Mudgee. The first point of call was at Lowe Wines where, after a tasting, we bought a bottle of the Biological Shiraz and moseyed around the dam, through the sunflowers and had a play with Jonte, the winery pooch.
We headed down the road to Gilbert Wines and the High Valley Cheese Co tasting room which we all really loved. The cheesemaker was completely stunned that both our kids tried and loved the 2 blue cheeses!
After our wedding, we spent a few days in Mudgee and happened upon Slowfox wines on Black Springs Road. At that time, Kate and Rob had not yet built their cellar door but they were so welcoming and honestly their small-batch wines (their Viognier, Malbec and Shiraz are our favourites) is our go-to for dinner parties and gifts. They have play equipment (cubby/swings etc) just outside the tasting room and the kids probably have just as much fun as we do.
Next, we headed to Yeates, with the promise of more kids toys and lunch. The rammed earth building which houses the cellar door was recently completed and we enjoyed sitting on the verandah in the shade overlooking the mountains to the North. Sarah guided us through our tasting while regaling us with stories of the Yeates family and their transition from cattle farming to a vineyard. We could have sat there all afternoon, and you very well can if you book the vineyard accommodation right next to the cellar door.
Our day ended at Roth’s Wine Bar, where we met up with Jay from Kitchen Concepts Mudgee and devoured a few pizzas between us. If it weren’t for the kid’s bedtime, we might have stuck around for Trivia – check their socials before you visit as they are always hosting fun events!
Our hot tips for breakfast are Althea by Zin (we usually grab some pastries, a coffee and keep driving)The Butcher Shop Café and the Dancing Goat Café. The kids love stopping for a play at Robertson Park playground and the toilets are usually clean. Our Chow Café at Burrundulla Wines on the Castlereagh Highway has a great set-up with outdoor tables and a big space for the kids to play.
Are you a Mudgee local? Let us know what your favourite spots to visit are! And if you are thinking about renovating, or know someone who is…make sure you book an appointment to see Jay at Kitchen and Renovation Concepts – 1/7 Industrial Ave, Mudgee.