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M & M: Two magnificent Aussie 'M' towns

Friday, July 8, 2011


A two-hour drive north of Sydney took Natalie Gruzlewski to the town of Morpeth. Founded in the 1820s, the river port was important for inland trading on the Hunter River plains. It grew crops for the young colony and in its heyday had four railway stations, 12 wharves and 18 pubs.

In the late 1800s the silting of the river and the completion of the rail link between Newcastle and Sydney saw the decline of its importance as a trading port and the town nodded off.

Much of the old charm and character remains and Morpeth is a National Trust classified town. Historic shopfronts, wharves and even hitching posts are intact. There are restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and lots of specialty shopping to enjoy.

Miss Lily's Lollies is just as popular with adults as children. As well as local sweet treats, they have favourites from England, Scotland, Europe, New Zealand and the US. The most common sound at Miss Lily's is "wow" as people see the range available. For many, it's a trip back to childhood and most leave with a bag of cobbers, musk sticks and the creamiest fudge imaginable.

Campbell's Store Craft Centre has thirteen specialty sections under one roof. Everything is of high quality and made by craftspeople across Australia. Leather goods, skincare, fine china and jewellery, wooden toys and puppets are all tempting. Taste jams, chutneys and fudge, local honey and the widest range of sauces imaginable to take home.

It's Christmas year-round so stock up on puddings and unique trimmings and maybe take home a teddy from Morpeth Bears. Servant's Quarters Tearoom is the place for scones, jam and cream or lunch and there’s a red caboose in the gardens for the children to enjoy.

Ma Beattie's Cordials are brewed using old-fashioned equipment. They are stirred by hand, bottled four at a time and packed ready to deliver. All ingredients are natural — including colouring — and are great value as they are mixed with water, soda, lemonade or your favourite alcohol and are delicious as an ice-cream topping.

Choose from ginger beer, raspberry vinegar, sarsaparilla, orange, lemon and lime cordials, bitters, lemon and lime, portello and passionfruit.

There are helpful suggestions as to uses for Ma Beattie's cordials, and unlike wine, you can taste as many as you like and be safe to drive!

Morpeth Convent Guest House is an impressive place to stay, but it's said to be haunted. Find out more about that on a Morpeth Ghost and History Tour.

The two-storey convent was built in 1909 as home of the Sisters of Mercy until 1980. Adjacent to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, and is now a charming B&B. The now comfortable bedrooms were once cells. Stained glass chapel windows are a feature, and spacious verandahs upstairs and down give extensive views of the countryside.


Catriona Rowntree has fallen for Metung, a pocket-sized town in East Gippsland in Victoria. It lies on a narrow peninsula separating Bancroft Bay from Lake King and is surrounded by the Gippsland Lakes. It has around 1000 permanent residents, but come holiday time, that swells. Accommodation ranges from B&Bs to self-contained cottages and five-star apartments on the water.

5 Knots Holiday Apartments has eight stylish one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. It's all very contemporary with original artworks, designer fittings, espresso machine, gourmet breakfast pack and irresistible locally made Chocodence truffles.

5 Knots enjoys a lakeside location and you may not want to leave. It's easy to see why locals love the lifestyle. Latex mattresses, heated bathroom flooring and a choice of pillows rid you of any stress and in no time you will be as relaxed as the locals.

Bancroft Bites is a licensed cafe in the heart of Metung village. Run by a local mother-and-daughter team, Jen and Lauren Kendall, it is dedicated to providing excellent food and friendly service. The coffee is pretty good too. They offer takeaway as well as dining in and have a great selection of wines available.

Oneoftwo Contemporary Jewellery showcases some of the area's creative works. Dore Stockhausen and Marcus Foley have their workshop and gallery in the beautiful rural landscape at Nungurner. Their individual handcrafter jewellery is created from silver, yellow or white gold and palladium in combination with enamel, acrylic, glass and stones.

Metung Galley Restaurant is a wonderful place to end the day. Felicity and Richard O'Byrne source local produce for breakfast, lunch and dinner and their efforts have been rewarded by being recommended in The Age Good Food Guide for the past three years.


Morpeth, two hours north of Sydney, and Metung, 3.5 hours from Melbourne.


Campbell's Store Craft Centre is open between 10am and 5pm from Thursday to Sunday.

Ma Beattie's Cordials is open between Thursday to Sunday between 10am and 5pm.

Morpeth Convent Guest House accommodation starts at $130 a night.

5 Knots Apartments start at $210 a night for a one-bedroom apartment. A welcome hamper of breakfast provisions, local truffles and daily newspaper are included.

Bancroft Bites breakfasts start at $7.50, lunch $9.50 and dinner main courses $17.50.

Oneoftwo Contemporary Jewellery is open every day.

Metung Galley's tapas starts at $12 and main courses $24. They open for all meals every day.

Virgin Australia has one-way flights to Melbourne from:

  • Brisbane and Melbourne $109
  • Adelaide $139
  • Perth $219
There are limited seats, which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares quoted are one-way booked on the internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at July 9, 2011, and are subject to change.

Prices correct at July 9, 2011.

For further information

Virgin Australia
Ph: 136 789

Miss Lily's Lollies
2 Green Street
Morpeth, NSW 2321
Ph: (02) 4933 6248

Campbell's Store Craft Centre
175 Swan Street
Morpeth 2321
Ph: 02 4933 1407

Ma Beattie's Cordials
5 Green Street
Morpeth, NSW 2321
Ph: (02) 4933 1407
Fax: (02) 4934 2107

Morpeth Convent Guest House
24 James Street
Morpeth, NSW 2321
Ph: (02) 4934 4176
Morpeth Ghost Tours
Ph: 0401 539 313

Morpeth Information Centre
173 Swan Street
Morpeth, NSW 2321
Ph: (02) 4933 2612
Fax: (02) 4933 2372

Morpeth Horse Carriage
Ph: (02) 49343094

5 Knots Holiday Apartments
42 Metung Road
Metung, Victoria 3904
Ph: (03) 5156 2854

Bancroft Bites
2/57 Metung Road
Metung, Victoria 3904
Ph: (03) 5156 2854

Oneoftwo Gallery
96 Kleinitz Road
Nungurner, Victoria 3909
Ph: (03) 5156 3270

Metung Galley
3/59 Metung Road
Metung, Victoria 3904
Ph: (03) 5156 2330

Metung Tourism

User comments
Last week in a historic town we saw a majestic Clydesdale mare pulling her wagon. It seemed like a vision from the past and the clip clop of her massive feet was like an echo from days gone by. I think the town was Morpeth.

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