We live on a small country property just outside of the quaint village of O’Connell in the Central Ranges wine country of NSW. It is about half way between Oberon and Bathurst and both Sandy and I consider it our own little piece of paradise, especially when we get to see one of these amazing full moons at dusk.
Looking over our vineyard and to the east.
At present, despite the fact that it is the middle of winter, the countryside is green and vibrant. This is largely due to the huge amounts of rain (almost 250 ml) we have had since June this year.
But, you can only sit around and look at the view for so long…..there’s plenty to get done around here and always grapes to prune, wine to make and meetings to attend. I have recently become part of the Bathurst Tourism Reference Group which has prompted me to write a little about all the great things there are to do and experience in this fabulous region of the Central Ranges of New South Wales.
There’s bushwalking, bicycling, villages to explore and 4-wheel driving for the more action focused travellers. Places like the Blue Mountains, Kanangra Boyd and Newnes National Park are less than an hour away and have a myriad of hikes, canyons and historic locations to explore. While on the way to these great hiking locations, you can also explore some of the historic small villages like Sofala, Hill End, Milthorpe, Rockley and of course O’Connell. The Bridle Track and roads close to the Turon River are great for 4-wheel driving.
One of our favourite things to do in the Autumn (if vintage allows) is mushrooming in the pine forests around Oberon. If it is a wet season and your timing is right, you may come back with a great sense of satisfaction having foraged for food and enough slippery jacks and saffron milk caps to last you for weeks.
Two Slippery Jacks amongst many beautiful Saffron Milkcaps
We have a great pickled mushroom recipe (found in the Sydney Morning Herald years ago) that we use and we’ll share with you. These are a fantastic addition to any tasting plate with some good cheese and crackers.
PICKLED PINE MUSHROOMS
1 cup white wine vinegar
3 tblspoons salt
3 cups water
300g saffron milkcap mushrooms (cleaned, stalks removed)
2 cups olive oil or (half canola as this doesn’t solidify in the fridge)
2 cloves garlic
1 sprig rosemary
Bring the vinegar, salt and water to the boil in a tall narrow pot (you can use a bigger pot but you’ll have to double the amounts of pickle solution). In batches cook the whole mushroom for a few minutes until tender when pierced with a skewer. Remove with a slotted spoon to a rack and continue until all the mushrooms are cooked. Be careful not to overcook the mushrooms as they absorb water quickly and can become soggy. Now gently press out excess liquid with a tea towel and cut into thin slices.
Taste to see whether they need extra salt. Place in a sterilised jar with slivers of garlic, the rosemary and enough oil to cover. They keep well in the fridge for a few weeks.
The city of Bathurst really does have a lot to see and do. As Australia’s oldest inland settlement as decreed by Governor Macquarie in 1815, it is fantastic to have many sites and buildings of great historical significance. Several historic buildings are now being used as venues for food, local wine and beer. You should check out the Church Bar on Ribbon Gang Lane for great woodfired pizza, the old Webb Chambers which now house a fine restaurant (Cobblestone Lane) and wine bar (Webb and Co.) and Crago Mill, now home to Two Heads Brewery. Just a few examples of heritage sites where you can sit and soak up a bit of history along with a great meal and some locally produced wine and beer.
A few pictures of some of the wonderful historical architecture you can see in Bathurst
Bathurst Court House
The National Trust Bathurst has produced a number of great brochures called Experience Heritage Bathurst that are perfect to use as walking tours. Check out www.heritagebathurst.com for more information. Yes, walking is a great way to experience Bathurst. Other places well worth a visit are; the Fossil and Mineral Museum, Mayfield Garden near Oberon, LeGall Patisserie for mouth-watering tarts and brulees, great coffee at Al Dente in Keppel St, the Motor Racing Museum and the Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit. We will cover some of our other favourite places in future blogs.