Last Thursday, I received a copy in the mail of a book to which my husband,…
In any ordinary summer, the village of Bungendore sees waves of Canberrans pass through on their way to the south coast. But this hasn’t been any ordinary summer. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make the trip.
This summer, as bushfires devastated the south coast, the effects have been far-reaching. Not only for coastal communities, but for the towns and villages en route—many small businesses are reliant on tourist trade which has been drastically reduced due to road closures and fire activity.
There’s never been a better time to 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”.
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-storey picturebook house will have you swooning for a tree change to the country.
If B&B isn’t your thing then try out The Carrington. The rooms are cosy and the gardens are magnificent.
Once those weekday vibes have been shaken off with a few beverages walk on over to Le Très 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.
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 Café where you can immerse yourself in some art and some breakfast.
I have been coming here for years and recommend anything with poached eggs—always cooked to perfection, there is nothing more satisfying than watching that runny yellow yolk coat your breakfast.
Once your tummy is full, walk around the corner to the Southern Harvest Farmers Market held at the Anglican Hall on Butmaroo Street 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.
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.
Meander down Malbon Street to the charming Manon & Moss—it’s filled with beautiful antique furniture, fine china and linens, beautiful candles, and objets d’art.
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.
Now that you have worked up an appetite it’s time to refuel.
Check out Zimi’s Place—a great little restaurant with beautiful pizzas and an interesting and tasty range of pasta, souvlaki, calzone and chips with toppings; or try ‘RnRs Diner—an American ’50s/’60s-themed diner—or The Big Green Cup Café and Emporium, both in Village Square.
The Big Green Cup is open seven days a week and—in addition to food and drink—boasts homewares, accessories, a florist and local gourmet and homemade goods and even hosts workshops.
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.
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.
Over on Gibraltar Street, peruse Suki & 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 metalworker 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.
Take a wander over The George Bar and Dining. In summer take a seat out in the garden, and in winter the Chesterfield-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.
Then settle in for a meal of locally-sourced Australian meat, seafood and produce accompanied by a class of Canberra District wine.
Sunday beckons you back into town, this time to one of the newer cafés in Bungendore, The Gathering Café. 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.
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 Cottage Antiques that features pieces large and small and you might just find a treasure to take home.
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 pizzas, 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 Winery’s cellar door to ensure your wine cellar is full of those wonderful cool climate wines the region specialises in.
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. Grab a Parmi from the bistro and enjoy it out in the garden before heading back to the city.
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.
The first weekend of February, Bungendore hosts the Country Muster and you don’t actually have to attend the event itself 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.
Late October is showtime with the Bungendore Show being heralded as the best one day show in the state.
November is the Bungendore Rodeo where you can dig out your Akubra and watch some cowboys do their thing in the dust.