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As Australia’s cherry capital, Young is bursting with delicious attractions as well as top tipples from the Hilltops region. Along with neighbouring townships Harden, Jugiong and Boorowa, Young is nestled in the south-western slopes of New South Wales’ Great Dividing Range. It’s also just under a couple of hours away from that other well-known capital, Canberra. Stone fruit orchards, vineyards, olive groves, and flavours from the paddock, are all here to captivate your taste buds. Spring begins in Young with the Cherry Blossom Lazy Lunch; while early summer marks the National Cherry Festival. This delightful long feast, held at one of the region’s prettiest orchards, will indulge your appetite and senses. The festival spills over three days and includes a street parade, dancing, plus the pit spit and pie-eating contests.
While the fertile lands of this high-altitude region offer a mouth-watering escape, you’ll also be able to satisfy the history buff in you. Formerly known as Lambing Flat, Young was once the site of wealthy goldfields. Tens of thousands of miners found their way here, with the settlement increasing its population by 20,000 in just one year. Learn about the ensuing friction and the infamous riots between European and Chinese prospectors at Young’s Lambing Flat Folk Museum. You can also visit the Lambing Flat Chinese Tribute Garden at Chinamans Dam Reserve, a restful and scenic spot (superb for a picnic), which features the Pool of Tranquillity and classic Chinese sculptures.
Make sure you have your hire car sorted, as the drives around the Hilltops Region are both leisurely and picturesque. You might like to time your visit for spring. Be rewarded with the abundant beauty of blossoming cherry trees, as well as golden fields of canola. Travel the roads between Boorowa, Harden-Murrumburrah and Young, and enjoy a vibrant vision of this striking yellow crop covering the landscape, contrasted by rolling green slopes. Early summer is another great time of year. They say that the cherry is the last to bloom but first to fruit! And they certainly do ripen early in Young and historic Wombat, making the last two months of the year (up to Christmas) prime for cherry picking. Find a stack of orchards for a pick-your-own adventure. Grab a coffee with your cherry pie and move on to the next. Also enjoy the ripening harvests of plums, peaches, apricots, figs, nectarines and more, as the summer rolls on.
For another lovely excursion, navigate the journey from Young to Jugiong – a charming postcard village on the banks of the Murrumbidgee. Savour the top-notch food, wine and stylish shopping (browsing is a must in Curators Creative). Jugiong may be small in scale, but never fails to impress. When it comes to retail, markets and specialty experiences, you’ll find more than what you bargained for around Young and Hilltops.
A great way to sample the best of Hilltops is to embark on one of their fabulous get-to-know trails, selecting one that matches your holiday mood. Treasure hunters will love the fun of the Heritage and Antiques Trail. If you’re feeling the need to get back to nature, the Outdoor Explorer Trail will lead you from riverside walks in Boorowa to waterfalls and creeks. Spot native wildlife, keeping a good eye out for the duck-billed platypus and the superb parrot. Picnic at Koorawatha and enjoy a pub meal in town before hitting the nature reserve. End the day with amazing views from Touts Lookout before dinner at one of the wonderful eateries at Young.
The Food and Wine Trail is an epicurean adventure. Enjoy the ease of country hospitality as you discover the best of regional produce and partake in the ultimate foodie experience. Hilltops is emerging as a strong contender to rival some of the more established wine regions in the country. One of the most recognisable labels is Groves Estate – currently enjoying a healthy following, and a growing international reputation as a premium drop. Perhaps the potent red volcanic soils have something to do with the success of the region. Sample some of the finest cool-climate reds, the specialty of the area. But do remember to draw straws over who’s steering the wheel of the hire car before a glass or two!
Pick a sunny day to head out on the Hilltops Ramble – a tour of some of the favourite attractions of the region, punctuated with some tasty bites along the journey. Take tea at the Iandra Castle, lunch at the Rustic Maze and Country Garden, and enjoy the finale at Ballinaclash Orchard and Cellar Door. A holiday in Young offers the sweeter things in life – just with a cherry on top!