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48 hours in Bungendore

Tenele Conway

Canberrans have probably been through the village of Bungendore on their way to the south coast at least three times this summer alone.

You might have stopped for petrol or grabbed a pie at the bakery or popped into the new supermarket for water for your camping trip.

Being a village on the highway, Bungendore can easily be passed through on your way to elsewhere. But now’s the time to look beyond the road to the coast and consider this village for all its possibilities.

At face value, you may not think Bungendore has enough on offer for a weekend visit. However, as a local, I can tell you that if you dig a little deeper Bungendore possesses a wealth of treasures.

To prove it, I’ve put together your weekend Bungendore itinerary so in the tradition of Bridget Jones you can go on a “full-blown mini-break weekend holiday”.

Friday

4 pm

The Old Stone House

Is there any better excuse for leaving work early than a mini-break weekend holiday? No, there isn’t and with Bungendore being located no more than 45 minutes from most Canberra suburbs you will be checking into your Bungendore accommodation by 5 pm.

Now accommodation options. There a few to choose from but if you want to really do it Bridget Jones style you must stay at the quaint B&B The Old Stone House. Built in 1861, this two-story picture book house will have you swooning for a tree change to the country.

If B&B isn’t your thing then try out The Carrington (featured image). The rooms are cosy and the gardens are magnificent.

6 pm

Once you are all set up in your room take a wander over The George Bar and Dining. In summer take a seat out in the garden and in winter the Chester style lounges in front of the fire will do the trick.

To whet the appetite for dinner, order some drinks and an antipasto platter and settle in for an hour or two and unwind from the week.

7.30 pm

Les Tres Bon

Once those weekday vibes have been shaken off with a few beverages walk on over to Le Tres Bon.

Situated in one of the oldest buildings in Bungendore, this French Bistro could have been plucked straight out of the French countryside. Chef Christophe cooks up traditional, seasonal and regional French cuisine that is some of the best French food you will eat. As the menu changes with the seasons it is hard to make a recommendation but if the Foie Gras with Truffle and Spice Bread is on the menu you would be doing yourself a disservice not to try it.

Saturday

9 am

A mini-break holiday would not be a mini-break holiday if you don’t have a sleep in, so start the day slow and when the sunshine beckons head to the Woodworks cafe where you can immerse yourself in some art and some breakfast.

For years I have been coming here and ordering the grilled mushrooms with goat cheese, thyme and balsamic on sourdough. To fuel your day properly I recommend adding some poached eggs to the dish, always cooked to perfection there is nothing more satisfying than watching that runny yellow yolk coat your breakfast.

10.30 am

Once your tummy is full, walk around the corner to the Southern Harvest Farmers Market held at the Anglican Hall every Saturday from 9 am till Midday.

It’s only a small market, but it is a great place to stock up on local produce. You’ll find fresh fish, locally grown seasonal vegetables, local meats and homemade goods like jams and spice mixes. My personal favourite is the baklava and Middle Eastern cakes from Adam’s Patisserie, grab a box full and take them home to enjoy throughout the week.

11 am

Retro Records

Now you have the food side of things covered for now it’s time to shop. Shopping in Bungendore is a unique experience. Start at the Retro Record Emporium – you can’t miss it. Its central location on the highway in the middle of the village and the big hippy bus in the front yard are a giveaway.

Here you’ll find rare records, vintage clothes, unique memorabilia, pre-loved books and games. It’s a little like an Aladdin’s cave and you never know what you might find. From there, move on to the Village Square. The Station Shops had a beautifully curated collection of women’s clothes, handbags, wallets, jewellery as well as giftware and children’s toys and clothes.

B’Town Kids also located in the Village Square can hook you up with the best in kidswear and more. If leather is more your thing the Leather and Trading store across from the Village Square has you covered. You can grab a pair of ugg boots, leather shoes, wallets, handbags, hats. Maybe you need to take an Akubra back to the city to amuse your city-dwelling friends.

1 pm

Now that you have worked up an appetite it’s time to refuel at the Food Lovers Market. Not only can the guys here stock you up with local produce, cheeses, Dom’s woodfired bread, Honorbread sourdough, artisanal chocolate, pastries and coffee but they make a mean

sandwich that will get you through your afternoon gallery hopping. It the weather permits sit out in the shady courtyard to make the most of the country air.

2 pm

Woodworks Gallery

Bungendore does not fall short on the art front. Start on the highway at the Woodworks Gallery for the finest handcrafted furniture and homewares and well as art and sculpture. Maybe pick yourself up a chopping board or inlaid jewellery box as a keepsake then head up the road to Paul Kowalski’s Photography Gallery specialising is stunning Australian landscapes. On your way over to Gibraltar street, stop in at Bungendore Fine Art which is a gallery owned by eight local artists and features their own art as well as that of monthly guest artists.

X Gallery

Over on Gibraltar Street, peruse Suki and Hugh, a lovely light-filled exhibition space for contemporary art with an ever-changing schedule of artists works on display then head into X Gallery owned by local metal worker Xanthe who crafts stunning one of a kind pieces of jewellery as well as partnering with local artists to feature their works in the gallery.

Suki & Hugh

4 pm

After all that pounding the pavement it’s time for a well-deserved rest and the Carrington Bar and Grill is just the place. The multi-million dollar makeover of this heritage Inn is nothing short of brilliant. The pressed copper ceilings made bespoke in the US on 1800’s machinery are a marvel and the reproduction art from the era of the original Carrington establishment brings an old world charm.

Sitting in the Carrington garden on a warm afternoon under the shady elms is pure bliss and they have a full bar so you won’t go thirsty.

6 pm

Once the sun starts to go down head into the main dining room where you will be treated to an American steakhouse style menu.

The prime rib, a cut of meat of far greater popularity in the US is a tender, juicy, slow-cooked cut that will melt in your mouth or my personal favourite is the Lamb Sedona, a slow roasted lamb rump smothered in spices, finished on the grill and served with chimichurri, it brings a punch of flavour with this beautiful tender piece of meat. There are options for vegetarians and children as well to ensure all tastes are catered for.

Sunday

9 am

The Gathering Cafe

Sunday beckons you back into town, this time to one of the newer cafes in Bungendore, The Gathering Cafe. Start your day with coffee from the Lonsdale Street Roasters and a menu featuring fresh produce, local eggs and a little creative flair. The recent renovation to this heritage building is a little hipster and a little country and makes for comfortable surroundings to get your day underway.

10 am

Village Antiques

A highlight of your Bungendore weekend will be antiquing. Starting on the highway Village Antiques is a massive space filled to the brim with all manner of wondrous pieces from a wide range of time periods. It’s one of those places that everywhere you turn you will be overwhelmed with things to look at and I wouldn’t be surprised if you end up buying.

I picked up my oak dining table there at a very good price. This place will keep you occupied for some time but if you haven’t had your fill of antiques, head around to Molonglo Street.

Located in an 1800’s cottage, Deniston Antiques that features pieces large and small and you might just find a treasure to take home.

12 pm

At this point you have the village covered and it is time for a change of scenery.

The nearby wineries are the ideal place to have a lazy, boozy lunch and to restock your cellars. Head to the Wamboin region and grab a table at Contentious Character. The menu is full of hearty dishes like wood-fired free range chicken, lamb ragu, pork belly as well as pizza’s, cheeses and charcuterie.

Take a tour of the winery, wander the beautiful grounds and enjoy the vineyards. On your way back into Bungendore, stop by Lark Hill wineries cellar door to ensure your wine cellar is full of those wonderful cool climate wines the region specialises in.

4 pm

The Royal Hotel

To round out the weekend join the locals at the Royal Hotel for Sunday afternoon music in the beer garden (summer only). This pub is a classic country pub full of colourful characters and the friendliest service in town.

Out under the shade of the Oak trees, you can enjoy live music, good drinks and a family-friendly atmosphere. With the music wrapping up at 7 pm you have time to grab a Parmi from the bistro and enjoy it out in the garden before heading back to the city.

Want more?

Bungendore has a very busy social calendar and wonderful community events. Think about lining up your mini break with one of the town social events.

Late January is Showtime with the Bungendore Show being heralded as the best one day show in the state.

In February, Bungendore hosts the Country Muster and you don’t actually have to attend the muster to enjoy this weekend. Saturday morning the town hosts a local busking competition around the town, Saturday afternoon the Royal Hotel has a musician out of the front veranda and the upbeat rock-a-billy vibes are a blast. Saturday night rocks in the Royal beer garden and Sunday you will find musicians at the various venues around town.

Year-round, Le Tres Bon hosts their in-house French cooking classes. Check out their website for the schedule.

In late September, Bungendore blocks off Gibraltar Street for the Bungendore Car and Bike Show. A huge event for the village, you don’t have to be a car lover to get into this one. Grab a beer or wine and enjoy the live music, chow down on a sausage sizzle and marvel at local events like the drag racing, which involves the local footy team in dresses.

November is the Bungendore Rodeo where you can dig out your Akubra and watch some cowboys do their thing in the dust.

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Tenele Conway

Tenele Conway is a veteran of the Canberra Travel industry having worked in retail travel stores around the city for well over decade. Taking full advantage of the perks of the job she has travelled the world primarily at the expense of others and when she isn’t zip lining in Guatemala or cruising the Nile she is bringing together her two passions of world cuisines and travel on her blog www.hungryplanetblog.com. With a cookbook collection worthy of an episode of 'Hoarders' she sees a future as a travelling cookbook author, look out Rick Stein. More about the Author

  • Sherridan Anne Marsh

    Fantastic article, you really showcase our little Village so well and there are still many other stores that someone spending 48hours in Bungendore can enjoy such as Wild Rose Organics on Ellendon St, or if you want a living pet to take home with you, remember a pet is for their life, then visit Bungendore Produce on Gibraltar St, or if you want to really relax book a massage in with Sarah at Sarah Watkin Wellness and Massage. And the list could go on but you get the gist of it: #Bungendore is 48hours enough??

  • Penny Kothe

    Thanks Tenele, great article 🙂 We also have coming up the Bungendore Harvest Festival 16-18 March – a great opportunity to really immerse yourself in the village and surrounds. More info at http://southernharvest.org.au/harvest-festival/

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