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Wollombi

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Wollombi, 29km south-west of Cessnock, is a small and historic rural village set in a valley and backed by tree-lined mountains. It has 19th-century sandstone buildings from the days when it was a service centre for the farming community and travellers. Stone culverts, bridges and retaining walls built by convict labour remain.

Examples of the grand colonial style are to be seen in school buildings, the courthouse — now the Endeavour Museum — post office and humble slab huts and houses of early settlers. There are also relics of early Aboriginal inhabitants.

There are still some subsistence farms and grazing properties in the district and the town has experienced a resurgence, popular with tourists for its markets and shops selling gifts, crafts, clothing, second-hand goods and locally made delicacies.

A strong arts group is flourishing and locals share in the creativity of painters, potters and performing arts productions.

Horse Heaven Gallery displays a retrospective of Sally Anne Anderson's paintings, architectural pieces and a good selection of Indian antique furniture and architectural pieces. It's all housed in a 19th-century converted barn, just behind the general store.

The Wollombi Tavern on the convict-built Great North Road is the home of the famous Dr Jurd's Jungle Juice. Mel Jurd was born nearby and is a legend in Wollombi folklore for his many escapades, most notably purchasing the Wollombi Wine Saloon in 1957.

Among other things, he believed a double nip of port with a nip of brandy was just the thing to fix an upset stomach. He'd heard troops in the tropics during WWII used it and called it Jungle Juice. Legend says that Mel used leftovers from the night before and experimented with various brewing techniques.

Dr Jurd's Jungle Juice could be purchased only at Mel Jurd's Wollombi Wine Bar. The produce has remained the trademark for the establishment.

The Tavern is on the site of an 1840s public house. It has a large picnic area next to Wollombi Brook, a camping area and even a helipad.

Wollombi Village Vineyard is run by the Roe family. After many years of having a retail business in Sydney, they decided to buy land in Wollombi and turn it into something the town would benefit from and be proud of. They began planting chardonnay vines in 1996 and have since added red grapes. The boutique winery offers tastings and sales of chardonnay, shiraz and rosé and Maria Roe's Italian background is evident in their delicious Limoncello, Dolcetto Bianco and Rosso and grape vinegar.

The family offers warm hospitality as you sip their wines and browse Laguna lavender products, Hunter Valley soaps, hand-painted ceramics and Patricia Roe's beautiful paintings.

Wollombi Markets are held every long weekend.

Location

The Hunter Valley in New South Wales.

Cost

Horse Heaven Gallery is open from 11am most days. They close for the last weekend of every month to save the owner going completely nuts!

Wollombi Village Vineyard cellar door is open on Saturdays, Sundays and long weekends between 10am-4pm.

Prices quoted are correct at February 8, 2007

More information

Horse Heaven Gallery
10 Negro Street
Wollombi NSW 2325
Ph: (02) 4998 3153
Website: www.horseheavengallery.com
Email: horseheavengallery@bigpond.com

Wollombi Tavern
Old North Road
Wollombi NSW 2325
Ph: (02) 4998 3261
Website: Email: info@wollombitavern.com.au

Wollombi Village Vineyard
2971 Paynes Crossing Road
Wollombi NSW 2325
Ph: 0419 997 434
Fax: (02) 9918 6830
Website: Email: wollombivino@hotkey.net.au

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