Discover a town steeped in history

While many visitors are drawn to the heart of our region – known for its impressive collection of wineries, shops and restaurants – the picturesque Mudgee Region offers so much more. It encompasses a collection of charming towns and villages, each with its unique personality, streetscape, and secret natural wonders. To capture the full essence of the region, it’s well worth making time to explore at least one of these charismatic towns, beyond Mudgee itself.

Driving from Sydney, you’ll hit Rylstone and Kandos first; the region’s gateway to the World Heritage-listed Wollemi National Park and Ganguddy-Dunns Swamp, a sacred waterway to the local Wiradjuri Aboriginal People. Keep driving west and you’ll soon reach Mudgee, where another 20-minute drive away sits a town that arguably holds the most history and an abundance of family-friendly activities. Welcome to Gulgong.

Gulgong Mudgee Region NSW

This former gold mining town is steeped in history, so much so that it’s often dubbed a ‘national treasure’. The town’s streetscape mirrors its 1800s appearance. Though, former gold rush settlers have been replaced by passionate business owners, friendly town folk, and curious travellers seeking a slice of history. With its interactive museums, lovely shops and family-friendly pubs, Gulgong invites families to create lasting memories in the Mudgee Region. Here are some of the best things to do in Gulgong with your kids.

Go museum hopping

Lined with over 130 National Trust-listed buildings, many of which are still decorated with the original 1800s wide verandahs and iron lacework, the entire town of Gulgong resembles an open-air museum. Set off along Mayne Street to feel like you’re in a time capsule, or to your kids, an exciting old-world movie set.

Prince of Wales Opera House Gulgong Mudgee Region NSW

Prince of Wales Opera House

Start on the doorstep of the oldest Opera House in the Southern Hemisphere. Built in 1871, Gulgong’s Prince of Wales Opera House is the oldest performing arts venue still being used for its original purpose in the whole of Australia. It’s said that Dame Nellie Melba, one of the most famous singers of the late Victorian era and the early 20th century, once performed here.

Gulgong at sunset Mudgee Region NSW

Henry Lawson Centre

You can’t visit Gulgong without stopping by the locally-celebrated Henry Lawson Centre. The famous Australian writer and bush poet, Henry Lawson, is often referred to as Australia’s greatest story writer. Though born in Grenfell in New South Wales, Henry spent many childhood years in Gulgong. The town proudly celebrates Henry’s life through the Henry Lawson Centre, where a curated collection of works and stories related to his life and times are preserved.

Gulgong Holtermann Museum Mudgee Region NSW

Gulgong Holtermann Museum

A couple of doors down sits the Holtermann Museum, where curious minds can reimagine the lives of 18th-century Gulgong residents and workers. In 1870, the town of Gulgong struck gold (quite literally) at Red Hill, when a man named Tom Saunders discovered 14 shiny ounces. The discovery led to an influx of 20,000 residents and a gold rush era that produced approximately 555,205 ounces of gold over 57 years. The contemporary Holtermann Museum houses two restored gold rush buildings, which, these days, display a unique collection of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) listed photographs. Kids will love the hands-on narrated Interactive Street Trail; simply scan a QR code and explore the streets.

Gulgong Gold Experience Mudgee Region NSW

Gulgong Gold Experience

At Gulgong’s Gold Experience in Red Hill, your family can delve deeper into the world of the Gold Rush era. Adventurous families can experience what life was like in the underground mining tunnel while walking through the museum’s replica, filled with fascinating stories and discoveries. Above ground, try your hands at panning for gold. If there’s one thing kids love more than getting their hands dirty (think swirling and washing through the water under a leafy canopy), it’s finding gold. Afterwards, stop by The Miner’s Cottage Tea Room for a refreshing pick-me-up in a historical setting. You’ll have earned it.

Gulgong Pioneer Museum Mudgee Region NSW

Pioneers Museum

Another must-visit for young curious minds is the Gulgong Pioneers Museum. Established in 1962, this award-winning museum houses one of the most celebrated collections of Australiana in the country. Inside the former old Times Bakery and Produce Store, your family can lay their eyes on everything from horse-drawn vehicles to Aboriginal and geological artefacts and farm and mining equipment. Let young imaginations run wild.

Shop at boutique shops

Another way to explore the streets of Gulgong is by browsing the town’s boutique shops, many of which are proudly independently owned and showcase locally crafted produce and products.

Wear It Outt Gulgong Mudgee Region NSW

Wear It Outt

If there’s anywhere to shop adorable, hand-made children’s wear, it’s Gulgong’s Wear It Outt. Perhaps the most Instagrammable shop in town, these gorgeous garments are locally made with love in the Mudgee Region. But it’s not all about the kids. This boutique prides itself on trendy and affordable women’s clothing, too. Gents, you might want to take a seat!

The Gallery Gulgong Mudgee Region NSW

The Gallery Gulgong

For shopping souvenirs, look no further than The Gallery Gulgong, a gold mine of an artistic kind. Housed in one of Gulgong’s iconic heritage buildings which was built over 120 years ago, this once-1900s confectionary store is now a haven for handcrafted arts, crafts and gifts, locally made in the Mudgee Region. The Gallery showcases local artists and businesses, from fine art to handmade dolls, soy wax candles and woodwork. There’s even a delicious range of local Mudgee produce. Think local jams, marmalades and honey.

Visit a family-friendly pub

The Mudgee Region’s hotel pubs blend rich history with the local’s passion for food, drink and storytelling. In Gulgong, you don’t have to travel far to stumble across a family-friendly pub where you can enjoy a memorable meal. At each of the pubs, you’ll find modern, budget-friendly rooms to rest your head in the heart of the town. These establishments offer more than just a meal and a place to stay; they provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in the town's vibrant culture and heritage.

Post Office Hotel Gulgong Mudgee Region NSW

The Post Office

Add The Post Office, a family-run hotel in the heart of town, to your eats list. The staff are known for their friendly character and serving up hearty feeds – from pub classics to gastro treats – with a cold brew (and perhaps a side of storytelling) to wash it down. On a summer’s day, families can hang out and stretch their legs in the leafy garden, or sway to live music indoors.

Prince Of Wales Hotel Gulgong Mudgee Region NSW

Prince of Wales Hotel

Your history tour continues at Gulgong’s Prince of Wales Hotel, which has been pouring pints and offering travellers a cosy place to rest their heads since 1872. Back then, the hotel was nothing more than a shack, which you can see displayed at the Holtermann Museum. Stepping into this establishment now feels like looking back in time, with its rustic countryside pub decor and hand-carved wooden furniture. The quaint ambience, complete with the occasional oddity (like bicycles hanging from the ceiling!) invites travellers to savour its old-world charm. Indulge in the family-friendly menu featuring an array of comfort food options, including vibrant salads and light bites.

Centennial Hotel Gulgong Mudgee Region NSW

Centennial Hotel

The Centennial Hotel (or ‘The Cenny’ as it is affectionately called by locals), is not only a favourite among the Gulgong crowd, but it’s well and truly in the Mudgee hall of fame after being featured on Australia’s very first $10 note. Established in 1872, this friendly pub takes claim as Gulgong’s oldest operating hotel and has since been a beloved watering hole for families, visitors and locals alike. The Cenny likes to think of itself as a meeting place for the young and old to enjoy a bite to eat, a coffee, or a cold one. The food menu, which showcases locally sourced ingredients and produce, is vast and caters to the whole family.

Venture into the great outdoors

Once you’ve had a taste of the history in Gulgong’s town centre, it’s time to explore the great outdoors. Gulgong serves as a gateway to lesser-known natural wonders, primed for family fun and connection.

The Drip Mudgee Region NSW

The Great Dripping Wall

East of Gulgong lies the forested wilderness of Goulburn National Park. The park follows the snaking Goulburn River for more than 90 km and is treasured for its nature walks, remote camping, river swimming and casting a line out for a spot of fishing. The park is abundant with flora and fauna, including native apple gums and tree violets and kangaroos, wallabies and wallaroos, who you might spot grazing on the river banks. Wildlife isn’t the only surprise you’ll find along the river. Tens of thousands of years ago, Aboriginal Wiradjuri, Kamilaroi and Wonnarua people resided in this area. To this day, there are still over 300 Aboriginal Heritage sites nestled in the national park.

The Great Dripping Wall (also known as ‘The Drip’), is one of the most frequented and can be accessed via the 3.5km walking track that begins from Ulan-Cassilis Road. Wander through the towering oak trees to reach the gorge, where a moss-coated limestone wall towers over a trickling stream. Cool off with a splash in the water, or tuck into a picnic of fresh Mudgee produce while relishing the peacefulness of this setting, steeped in history and natural beauty.

Hands on Rock 14 Greg Adams 1

Hands on Rock

Nearby sits another significant site for local Aboriginal people. Visiting the Hands on Rock site is an experience that blends history with culture, art and nature. The walk takes only 15 minutes, perfect for little ones. Once you reach the site’s boardwalk, look up to the overhanging yellow rock to marvel at a cluster of more than 100 red hand stencils and motifs. It’s said that the wall was decorated by women and children thousands of years ago.

Gulgong Adventure Playground Mudgee Region NSW

Gulgong Adventure Playground

Back in the centre of Gulgong, kids can let off steam at the Gulgong’s Adventure Playground. The park features modern play slides, swings, a flying fox and shaded canopies for those warm summer days. While the kids play, parents can use the public BBQ facilities to feed hungry bellies, or simply relax. Adjacent to the park lies the Gulgong Pool, an Olympic-sized swimming pool that’s open to the public from the end of September until the end of April.

Owl Head Lodge couple feeding goat, Mudgee Region NSW

Owl Head Lodge

If the countryside is calling your name, there’s nowhere better to base yourself as a family than at Owl Head Lodge, just a 10-minute drive from Gulgong and a 20-minute drive from Mudgee. This peaceful retreat is made up of a variety of self-contained apartments, studios and cottages, with wrap-around views of the surrounding Cudgegong Valley. Spend your evenings gazing up at the sparkling stars as a family, with a BBQ and a few glasses of your favourite Mudgee wine. In the daytime, make a splash in the on-site pool, run around the homestead’s big garden lawn and say hello to the adorable neighbouring farm animals before popping into town.

From museum hopping to quintessential countryside pubs and awe-inspiring nature walks, the humble town of Gulgong, located a 20-minute drive from Mudgee in Central West of New South Wales, may be small in size, but it's overflowing with natural and historical treasures. Gather your family and hit the road – you’ve got Gulgong memories to make.

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