The big city is where you’ll often find the more ‘standard luxury’ when it comes to accommodation but, in Australia at least, you need to think regional if you want to experience unique stays with charm and character, the type you’d get from independent owners rather than big, often inattentive brands that can get a bit lost in the ‘mass production’ of it all. This makes for an attention to detail that’s unmatched and Peppertree Hill in Mudgee is a great example of this. The property is set on 250 acres of private farmland, flanked by some of the region’s best vineyards and boasting four self-contained cottages, each aimed at providing a luxury farm stay that you can only really find in places like Mudgee, a region named for it’s aesthetic, after a Wiradjuri term meaning “nest in the hills.”
The property is simple; there aren’t any spas or pools (the neighbouring pool belongs to the owners’ private home), or any such amenities that come with city-living. Rather, it’s a peaceful, postcard-worthy scene helped along by the crispy country air, in a place where seasons actually still mean something – regional Australia is now special in the sense that summer actually feels like summer, if you’re told it’s winter you’d actually believe it, and so on. Regardless of the weather outside though, inside each cottage are high-powered air conditioners in each room that keep the spaces as cold or warm as you’d like.
I stayed in the Gumtree Cottage, which is a space that used to be a woolshed, thoughtfully converted into a charming two-bedroom house, spacious on entry with a wood fireplace close to a mid-sized, wall-fixed television that stands opposite a comfortable three-seater. The kitchen flows from the lounge room, coming equipped with most of the modern expectations, offering a fair cooking area, old school stove tops, a large fridge, and a generous dining table that sits under a worn antique mirror.
The first bedroom, right nearby the kitchen, is large enough to fit three king singles and across the hallway, nearby the modern bathroom is a welcoming master bedroom fit with one queen bed. The queen bed is surrounded by two wooden cabinets and faces a wall-to-wall wardrobe and one very small television that hangs in the top right-hand corner.
Cleanliness is an obvious high-point for this place, and seeing as the cottages are neatly spaced out across the property, privacy is just as paramount. Grabbing one of Mudgee’s many award-winning wines from the surrounding Cellar Doors and sitting back on the porch looking out over the dam while the nearby tire swing is blowing in the wind is an incredibly calming and peaceful experience.
Taking a morning walk around the property and down to the lake is the main reason you’d leave your cottage without heading somewhere else, and the walk is breathtaking, especially when you reach said lake and just let nature effortlessly coax you into never, ever leaving. A picnic down here – the owners will organise a picnic hamper by local caterer Rachael McCarthy (with some seriously delicious breads) – is pretty much perfect, bested only by sunset scenes coloured by one or several glasses of Mudgee wine.
It’s not long to Mudgee’s town centre where my best suggestion for breakfast or brunch would be the leafy Albey + Esthers, whereas one of the best places for a casual dinner would be the lively Eltons or the Mudgee Brewing Co., where you can pair your dishes up with some really beautifully balanced, flavourful craft beers.
A definite must for any stay in Mudgee is the High Valley Wine & Cheese Co., which pairs up cheese and wine with some nice charcuterie as well. I highly recommend the Caerphilly and Smoked Caerphilly cheeses, absolutely necessary if you take these back to Peppertree for the aforementioned picnic.
Continuing to pack that picnic basket, some of Mudgee’s stunning local cherries shouldn’t be hard to find – they are pretty much everywhere – as well as Spencer Cocoa, chocolate which is just as ubiquitous and celebrated at just about every restaurant, cellar door, cafe, and bar across Mudgee. For more suggestions check out our feature on Mudgee HERE, where I list some of the best Cellar Door and dining experiences in the area, a no-brainer if you’re in Mudgee for a weekend, paying particular attention to The Zin House, Logan Wines, and the Robert Stein Winery property. Take advantage of the vineyard shuttle service if you aren’t driving.
If you have a car – and you should if you really want to experience Mudgee properly – the nearby town of Rylstone is just an hour or so away, literally just one long street lined with artisan design shops, old fashioned pubs, and a little dumpling store named 29 Nine 99. Before visiting I was told that some people drive from cities like Sydney especially just to sit outdoors and enjoy these handmade dumplings; that’s most evident when you actually sit down and enjoy these with a selection of teas. Owner Na Lan, who grew up in the central Shaanxi province of Xian, has mastered these various dumplings and brought them to this quiet town, opening up this restaurant after she married her Australian husband on the 29th of September 1999 – hence the name. The dumplings are simple, smooth, and some of the best I’ve had – even when considering Sydney gems like Mr Wong and Luyu & Yum Yum. Use an opportunity here to stock up on some teas and take them back to Peppertree Hill.
If you’re looking for a mix of rustic and high-end accommodation, balanced with the slice of serenity that regional NSW offers, surrounded by wine, cheese, cherries, chocolate, and dumplings, then Peppetree Hill is definitely somewhere that should be on your radar for a weekend away to the increasingly popular region.
More information and bookings can be found at peppertreehill.com.au. Prices for the Gumtree Cottage start from $150 to $300 per night. There’s a minimum 2-night stay for weekends, and a minimum 3-night stay for NSW public holidays.