4 days exploring the food and wine delights of the Yass Valley
The many delights of the rustic Yass Valley and surrounding area offer up the ultimate in cold climate comforts.
By Leigh-Ann Pow
When it comes to celebrated wine regions, the Yass Valley probably isn’t the first place that springs to mind. But cold climate wines are a specialty in this delightfully low-key spot located in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands, a scenic three hours’ drive south of Sydney.
Once famed for the quality of the merino wool produced on the sheep farms that prospered on the rich grazing land here, these days the ground is increasingly being used to produce award-winning wines and top-quality produce.
Head from Sydney to the Yass Valley, which borders Canberra, then spend a few days cycling between cellar doors in places like Murrumbateman and Wallaroo, and forging out to explore quaint historic towns, before heading down the road to Canberra for a culture fix on this four-day road trip.
Day 1: Sydney to Yass
- Drive time: about 3 hours
Your first stop out of Sydney should be the Southern Highlands for morning tea (roughly a 1.5-hour drive). Stop at Bowral for a coconut-flavoured hot chocolate at The Press Shop and a nosey around Dirty Janes vintage emporium, or continue onto Moss Vale to wander the homewares boutiques and grab a coffee and a giant home-made scone at Highlands Merchant.
Continue to drive through the stunning scenery of the Southern Tablelands; you’ll reach the town of Yass in around 1.5 hours. The town’s heritage as a prosperous country hub known for the quality of the merino fleece produced here is writ large in the grand buildings along its wide main street.Show more
Day 2: Explore Murrumbateman’s wineries
Grab one of Abode Murrumbateman’s complimentary bikes from the foyer and spend the day cycling your way around some of the region’s excellent cold climate wineries. Stop by Clonakilla and the relaxed Eden Road Wines. Take a break at Murrumbateman Winery around lunchtime – its share plates are the perfect fuel after a busy morning of peddling (and more of the same during the afternoon).
Your final stop for the day is Shaw Wines. You'll immediately notice the grand architecture and rolling vineyards as you enter via Isabel Drive. Enjoy a cellar door wine tasting before sitting down at the onsite restaurant Olleyville (dinner available Thursday through Sunday). Expect rustic, shareable plates and a menu directed by the central wood fire.
Day 3: Binalong to Gundaroo via Bowning and Wallaroo
- Drive time: about 2 hours
Check out of Abode Murrumbateman and prepare for a day of exploring the area. The Yass Valley and its surrounds are home to a collection of quaint country towns, many with impressive histories linked to bush poets and bushrangers – plan to spend the whole day going from one to the next at a leisurely pace.
Bowning (about a 30-minute drive from Murrumbateman) is one of the area’s earliest settlements, with its Cobb & Co. Coaching Station, Troopers Cottage and the Bowning Hotel – a quintessential Aussie pub where, local legend has it, Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson used to drink.Show more
Day 4: Gundaroo to Canberra
- Drive time: about 1 hour
Leaving the Yass Valley countryside, the many cosmopolitan delights of Canberra await a short drive away. First, head for breakfast in the buzzy neighbourhood of Braddon (try Lonsdale Street Roasters 7 café), and then browse the boutiques along Lonsdale Street.
Ten minutes down the road, stop in at the National Gallery of Australia, which is worth the visit to alone just to walk through the Aboriginal Memorial and sit in wonder at Jackson Pollack’s Blue Pole, which was purchased for a world-record price of $1.3 million back in 1973. Or head to the National Library of Australia to see the eclectic pieces on display in the Treasures Gallery, from Henry Lawson’s fob watch to a torch from the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.Show more