First settled around the 1860s, the place known as Blampied epitomises the ‘blink and you miss it’ town. Cruising down the highway, it is easy to zoom past, but the things to see here are far from forgettable.
Twenty-seven years ago, Chris and Trish thought it might be a good idea to grow a hedge maze. They bought a few acres, Chris designed the maze, and Trish picked the fastest-growing cypress she could find. Planting commenced, with 500 seedlings, a country garden with orchards, vegetables and cut flowers. Within six years, the maze was pretty well formed. Time moved on, and the maze grew and was cut many times. Friends and family just about gave up on them, and the locals thought they were mad. Now that it’s open, Maze House is challenging, and fun to boot. After conquering the maze, wander the gardens, try your hand at carnival activities, or relax in a shady spot.
Clip clop across the road to Quirindi Stables and Hepburn Lagoon Trail Rides. Quirindi Stables oozes rustic charm and has become a highly sought-after space for weddings. Owners, Sue and Kieran, are fun-loving and immediately make you feel part of their family. Your dream wedding becomes their personal endeavour. Fabulous props, food trucks, gargantuan flower arrangements; your heart’s desires can be easily accommodated.
Hepburn Lagoon Trail Rides offers beginners to experienced riders the chance to learn, or reacquaint themselves, with a horseback adventure. Kieran matches each rider with a suitable horse and gives instructions on how to ride. Riders enjoy the undulated farming landscape of the Blampied district, where there is often a koala or kangaroo to spot. After the ride, Sue serves delicious pizzas using her homemade relish. This is a great opportunity to share tales, while enjoying an open fire or sitting under their shady verandah.
One of Hepburn Lagoon’s trail rides stops at the Swiss Mountain Hotel. The town was named after Louis Blampied, who built the hotel - one of the oldest weatherboard pubs in Victoria. Walk inside, and you’ll see potato farmers having a quiet pint or two. This quintessential pub is a beloved hub for the village. Looking at the menu, you’ll start salivating over their comfort food that has a modern twist centred, as much as possible, around local producers.
Just a stone’s throw away, you’ll find Captains Creek Organic Wines. They’re open on weekends; at which time you can sample their wine and ciders accompanied by delicious lunches. Explore their range by the glass or try regional beers. It’s important to note that Captains Creek is certified by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia. In the winery, no chemical additives are used throughout the winemaking process. Captains Creek house-made cakes or popular tasting plate, which is laden with a selection of local delicacies, will always hit the spot. Cheese lovers will enjoy a local Goldfields Farmhouse platter. Espresso coffees are also served throughout the day for those who lost ‘rock-paper-scissors’.
Your final stop should be Overwrought Sculpture Garden and Gallery. Entering the large corrugated iron former hay shed, you will be captivated by the high ceilings and the warm interior. Alongside the unique sculptural metal art of owner and artist David, the space displays the works of more than thirty artists. There is also a selection of fair trade, and ethical artisan-made wares from countries such as Cambodia, Bangladesh and Uganda and stunning ceramics from a recent collaboration with BNYM Aboriginal Corporation in Gippsland. The gallery doors open onto a landscaped sculpture garden, helping you to envisage how the pieces could look at home. Children can take the opportunity to feed the many fish in the ponds and can offer morning tea to the resident alpaca and sheep family.
With a car boot weighed down with metal art and wine, your trip back down the highway will be a little slower and full of memorable times spent with the kind folk of Blampied.
Main photo: Captains Creek Vineyard
Maze House mazehouse.com.au
Quirindi Stables quirindistables.com.au
Hepburn Lagoon Trail Rides hepburnlagoonrides.com.au
Swiss Mountain Hotel swissmountainhotel.com.au
Captains Creek Organic Wines captainscreek.com
Overwrought Sculpture Garden and Gallery overwrought.com.au