|A is for.....Uralla!|
A is for Australia and ANZAC Day and atmosphere and attitude – and so much more.
However, although most visitors to Australia arrive in a major capital city, it is small town Australia which best defines this wild, beautiful, stunning, bountiful and sometimes harsh country.
Come with us on a trip to see what one small country town did recently to celebrate its food and wine, friendship and hospitality.
SPECIAL NOTE: The Uralla Food & Wine Festival will take place over the weekends of 6/7 and 13/14 April, 2013.
Located halfway between Sydney and Brisbane on the New England Highway, Uralla, founded in 1855, is a small New South Wales country town with a population of around 2,500. If that sounds a little too small, don't be misled. This town has much to recommend it. Come and see for yourself!
Everyone is welcome, and motorbike riders have their own shelter at the corner of the main street, which is also the highway.
A not so welcome person was Thunderbolt (aka Fred Ward) a notorious bushranger who hid out in the wild granite boulder-covered hills and in caves on the northern tablelands for years. He was finally captured near Uralla and killed by police in 1870. His simple grave inside a white picket fence at the cemetery is well-signposted. McCrossin's Mill Museum near the Information Centre has a magnificent display of nine large oil paintings which show the dramatic 'Death of Thunderbolt'.
Let's take a walk down Uralla's main street.........
Many buildings in the main street are accessorised by delicate wrought iron 'lace' produced by the Phoenix foundry, begun in 1906 and the oldest operating one in Australia. Definitely worth a visit.
F&T's invitation was specifically to dine at the Duke's Feast, so named because the Duke of Gloucester, while he was Governor General in Australia, once paid a visit to the elegant Gostwyck Station, a grazing property on the outskirts of Uralla, which has been owned by the Dangar family since it was established in 1834.
Autumn is a lovely season in highland areas where residents are able to enjoy four distinct seasons, and this was a perfect day for an outdoor lunch. The Gostwyck Chapel was built in 1921 and proved the ideal place to relax and listen to harp music while enjoying a first glass of wine.
Tables were set up along the drive to the homestead, with yellow leaves from the avenue of 200 elm trees, planted in 1856, drifting down like golden confetti on the diners.
With 250 diners, the meal needed to be presented with absolute precision - and who better than the cadets from TS Armidale to do it?
Bread rolls from The Goldfish Bowl bakery in Armidale set the tone for the meal.
A charcuterie plate 'garnished' by nature with a leaf that fell just as the dish was served!
Milly Hill lamb shanks with celeriac and barley - simple, homespun and delicious.
On Sunday several local gardens were opened to the public so that visitors could enjoy the autumn colours.
Gostwyck's gardens are extensive and this bridge replaced stepping stones over the river in the early 1900s. It was erected, not to help humans, it seems, but to make it easier to move flocks of sheep to the woolshed for shearing.
Gostwyck Station's gardens are open to the public once a month.
Mihi Creek vineyard's fine wines are well respected. The 2009 Merlot was included in James Halliday's 2010 Top 100 Wines. Here owner Andrew Close pours tastes for diners who attended the Food & Wine Festival vineyard lunch on the property.
Mihi Creek's garden were also open for viewing.
Take notice of this stone and next time you want a trip to a place that typifies the best of country town Australia, head NORTH to Uralla!
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