4.30pm – Pre-dinner drink at The Pourhouse
Visit The Pourhouse on a Friday night and you will likely find tables of tradies glued to bar stools in the quirky front bar, couples congregating on comfy couches in the dimly lit backroom and families sitting in the courtyard listening to live music. Established as The Exchange Hotel in 1866, the historic building also housed a cafe and antique shop before premium beer nerd Benn Giles wrested it back to its roots.
327 High St, Maitland; thepourhouse.com.au
6 pm – Aperitifs at Coquun
Coquun is emblematic of all the good stuff happening in Maitland. Run by Daniel O’Leary (ex-dive bar, The Dock, in Redfern) Coquun – which means ‘fresh water’ in the language of the local Wonnarua people – is located on the banks of the Hunter River and draws extensively from the native food bowl. Book A Moving Feast Maitland tour and kick off your progressive dinner and drinks at Coquun.
396 High St, Maitland; coquun.com.au
7 pm – Dinner at The Rigby
The Rigby is most often packed to the rafters with smug locals who have colonised every corner of this all-day eatery. To be properly seduced by Maitland, which was founded as a settlement for convicts in 1818, you must factor in some time at The Rigby, which is housed in a 19th-century heritage building on the High Street that was once a fancy retailer. The Rigby is run by father-and-son team Howard and Nick Bourne and is more Melbourne than Maitland. It’s open all day as a cafe, restaurant and cocktail bar.
307 High St, Maitland; therigby.com.au
9pm – Check in to the SAO Studio at William Arnott Hotel
Good things come in small packages. Like SAO biscuits, which were launched in Australia in 1904 by Arnott’s, and the newly renovated SAO studio that the salted cracker is named after. The street-level studio, which dates back to the 1850s, was once the bakehouse’s proving rooms. Plump for a few nights in the Monte Carlo Penthouse if you plan to spend more time swanning about in your suite.
148 Swan St, Morpeth; historicarnottbakehouse.com.au
9am – Breakfast at Common Grounds
Meander down the main street of Morpeth on a Saturday morning and you will meet locals who have been out for their morning walk and are heading back to Common Grounds, their unofficial headquarters. Sit on the sun-splashed verandah and enjoy avocado on sourdough under a blizzard of goat’s feta and reconsider that tree change.
4/142 Swan St, Morpeth; facebook.com/cafemorpeth
11am – Elevenses at the Icky Sticky Patisserie
It’s mid-morning in Maitland and a family is huddled around the display cabinet at the Icky Sticky Patisserie, debating whether or not to order the chocolate tart or orange and almond cake.They finally settle on 12 petit fours, featuring the two flavours. Phew. Crisis averted.
2/27 Belmore Rd, Lorn, Maitland; ickystickypatisserie.com
Midday – Lunch at Muse Kitchen, Lorn
Award-winning restaurateur Megan Rhoades-Brown has helped put Maitland on the map for foodies with the launch of Muse Kitchen in the lovely village of Lorn. The European-style bistro (sister restaurant to Muse Kitchen in Pokolbin) has an avowedly French twang and is smart and slick like its owner. Do as the waiter suggests and order the heirloom tomato and goat’s curd tart, hazelnut and roquette salad.
1/27 Belmore Rd, Lorn; musekitchen.com.au
2pm – Wine tasting at Tranquil Vale
Tranquil Vale presents like a pencil sketch of a working winery, with pretty vines threaded around the 10-hectare vineyard located on a bend of the Hunter River in Luskintyre around which the trees thicken. The estate specialises in estate-grown semillon, chardonnay and shiraz and if you knock on the cellar door you will be rewarded with a winemaker-led tasting by a member of the Griffiths family.
325 Pywells Rd, Luskintyre; tranquilvale.com.au
3pm – Stock up on sweet treats
Nostalgia is alive and well at Miss Lily’s Lollies (2 Green St, Morpeth; facebook.com/MissLilysLollies), Morpeth Ginger Beer Factory (5 Green St, Morpeth; campbellsstoremorpeth.com.au) where you can fill your bags with artisan treats. Join the dots to Donarch Fine Chocolate in Tenambit (49 Maize St, Tenambit; donarchfinechocolate.com.au) to sample a few of the signature raspberry hearts. A few squares of the salted caramel will also slap you around the chops with flavour.
6pm – Dinner at Boydell’s
Of all the Hunter Valley cellar doors slinging food and wine at visitors, Boydell’s might just be its MVP (Most-Valued Player). The rustic low-ceilinged cellar door and restaurant shares a wall from the original 1820s-built shed and is a nod to the legacy of the area’s early pioneers. As the small-scale wine producers behind Boydell’s, Daniel and Jane Maroulis invite guests to share their signature varietals in the restaurant which are paired with local produce put together by talented head chef Paula Rengger. A visit to Boydell’s is an absolute must in Maitland.
2 Green St, Morpeth; boydells.com.au
9pm – Check into the Bronte Boutique Hotel
Head straight to the antique French armchairs in the Superior King Room in the Bronte Boutique Hotel to enjoy a glass of Tranquil Vale shiraz. Outfitted with antique French furniture, claw-foot tubs, and period pieces that demand attention, the Heritage-listed hotel retains much of the original building’s glory.
145-147 Swan St, Morpeth; thebronte.com.au
7am – Discover Maitland’s heritage
Download the Maitland Walks app and pinball around 25 sites of interest along the Morpeth Heritage Walk, which traces the history of our early European-Australians. You should also have a wander along the Riverwalk, which snakes through the town and is dotted with cafes with enviable views.
10am – See the Sights
Checking out the local Maitland Regional Gallery makes for an enjoyable morning. Here, you can see a range of art styles and mediums, from sculpture to paintings and photography. The MRAG site itself – which was built about 1830 – has a fascinating history and the Old Meets New architectural features are worth a visit on their own. Art lovers will also appreciate The New One, a mural by local artist Patricia Van Lubeck.
230 High St, Maitland; Mrag.org.au