You’ll need three days to take in the Poacher’s Trail at the recommended leisurely pace – that’s three days packed with wine, delicious food, galleries, boutiques and eye-poppingly pretty countryside. Highlights of the trail include 140 vineyards and 33 wineries (we feel thirsty already); Yass Valley galleries stocked with covetable handmade art, glassware and pottery; dramatic caves in the Wee Jasper Valley and fishing trips on Lake Burrinjuck or Goodradigbee River. You’ll also have time to fit in fine dining in Gunning or the historic village of Gundaroo, where villagers still graze cattle on the town common. All you need for the trip is a car, your appetite and your curiosity...
Day one: Canberra to Murrumbateman
On the first leg of the trip, have breakfast in Queanbeyan, unless it’s a Sunday, in which case you should pay a trip to Canberra’s Old Bus Depot Markets. Once you’ve had your coffee-and-avo fix, head down the Barton Highway to Hall, which has beautiful countryside and a choice of three award-winning wineries. Pause in Gold Creek Village and browse the galleries and gift shops, before heading on to Murrumbateman, a village which began as a gold mining hub, before turning from gold to wool, and then to wine. The cool-climate wineries are renowned for their flavoursome grapes – try sangiovese, riesling, chardonnay and shiraz. Have lunch at a vineyard restaurant or try a parma in a country pub (keep an eye out for resident ’roos).
Day two: Murrumbateman to Yass
Shop for antique treasures and country-style curios and homewares in Murrumbateman, then head to historic Yass, the birthplace of 19th-century explorer Hamilton Hume (also renowned for its marshmallow-soft merino wool). Peek around Hume’s home, Cooma Cottage, which is now a National Trust museum. The Yass Valley is home to characterful villages, stylish galleries and tempting cool-climate wineries. Watch skilled glassblowers at work in the glittering factories in Binalong (where Australian poet Banjo Paterson once wrote his rhymes) and explore the cultured galleries of Bowning. Discover the Wee Jasper Valley caves, below the Brindabella Ranges, or drive to Burrinjuck Dam and spent the afternoon having a picnic in a picturesque, sun-warmed patch. Swim, fish, canoe and boat on Lake Burrinjuck and Goodradigbee River, or set up camp and go for a bushwalk.
Day three: Yass to Canberra
You’re on the last day of the trail but don’t be sad, there are plenty of treats ahead. Start by taking the Hume Highway to Gunning, which lies at the heart of one of the world’s richest wool-growing regions. Follow the Old South Road loop, that leads past handsome 1920’s bluestone buildings and cycle or stroll over the Ingleburn Bridge, which traverses the Lachlan River (admire the old water pump and the Court House, which dates back to 1879). En route to Canberra, pause at the tiny town of Collector and have a scenic lunch at Sutton, perched on the banks of the Swan River. Enjoy coffee and cakes in the unique village of Gundaroo, where the villagers graze their cattle on the local common. If you’ve been bad, head to the 1930’s lock-up; if you’ve been good, reward yourselves by picking up some art, antiques or collectibles from one of the treasure-stuffed boutiques. Stop for a picnic by the sparkling Yass River or have a memorable meal at the town’s award-winning restaurant. Before you arrive back in Canberra, fit in one more winery trip – this time at tranquil Lake George.
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