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Published July 20th 2016
A quaint and historical town, just 30 minutes from Canberra
Bungendore is a small, historical town located 30 minutes over the border in NSW. This town, established in the 1830s, is a popular place for travellers to stop whilst driving between Canberra and Batemans Bay, or as a destination from Canberra itself. On weekends the roads are lined with cars and motorbikes as visitors stop to explore the village shops and stop for a coffee at any of the quaint cafes. It is also the history of the area that attracts many people, with buildings dating back to the 1800s still standing today. With early Australian architecture and stories of bushrangers staying in the local hotels, there are plenty of tales to be told about the history of this small town.
When visiting Bungendore there are a few "must sees" to capture the essence of the town and make the most out of your visit. The following are popular ways to spend a few hours - or why not make a day of it and stay to enjoy the country hospitality at this charming, rural town.
If you appreciate the skill and craftsmanship of hand-crafted wood work, then you will love the Bungadore Wood Works Gallery on one of the main corners in town. This large and impressive gallery is also a shop, so you can purchase anything you see as you wander around. The scale of the interior takes your breath away as you walk into the gallery, as well as the range of wood products on display. Admire larger works such as dining suites, chairs, sculptures and tables as well as smaller items such as jewellery boxes, pens, doorstops and bowls. Upstairs there is a gallery space for art exhibitions and out the back of the gallery is the popular Café Wood Works, which would have to be the most popular café in town. To read more about the Bungendore Wood Works Gallery, see here.
Wander the large interior of the Bungendore Wood Works Gallery
Directly across the road from the Wood Works is Bungendore Village Leather, complete with saddles out the front of this traditional country shop. As you walk inside, the store is literally packed to the rafters with handmade leather products, most of which you can't find anywhere else. As you walk inside, the leather smell is inviting as well as the friendly hello from the staff behind the counter. This is another hand-crafted store that you can spend some time exploring, hunting down the perfect gift or unique present for yourself. If enjoy leather shoes, bags, purses and accessories, then this full shop will be a treasure trove to explore. To read more about the Bungendore Village Leather store, see here.
As you walk or drive along the main road of Bungendore there is an antique doll - the size of a house - out the front of Village Antiques that you just can't miss. Underneath the doll is a quaint antiques shop that is fascinating to walk around and surprisingly affordable. As well as older treasures there are also new products in antique styles and items for your house and garden that are stylish and unique. Even if you don't enjoy antiques, there is something here for everyone as the owners have wares sent from "French, English, Anglo-Indian, Chinese and European sources", according to their website. For the real bargains, check out what is out the front of the store. To read more about Village Antiques, see here.
Look for the super-sized antique doll outside the store
There are a number of cute cafes around the town and Village Square for a casual bite to eat, as well as some unique pubs and even a popular traditional French restaurant. On the main street in town is Le Tres Bon, run by French Chef Christophe Gregoire, who produces traditional French fare for diners as well as hosting cooking classes for masterchefs in the making. People travel from Canberra to enjoy the traditional cooking at this award-winning French restaurant.
A block behind the main street is Gibraltar Street, which has two popular pubs. Lake George Hotel - The George Bar and Dining is a large modern pub with a spacious outdoor beer garden and popular children's play area. The pub was renovated in 2012 and was originally one of Australia's oldest continuously licensed hotels, opening in 1838 as the Harp Hotel. In stark contrast to its historical surrounds, this modern pub on the outside is cosy inside with a fireplace, stacked stone walls and comfy couches.
Just down the road is the historic Royal Hotel, which stands proudly in its original form since 1882, as far as records indicate. This friendly locals pub has been serving the community for decades and it shows. The building itself is a sight to see as you walk up the road - it has history and charm ready to be discovered. Why not pop in for a drink and have a yarn to the friendly locals and stay for a counter lunch at this friendly country pub.
Chef Christophe Gregoire at Les Tres Bon. Source: Les Tres Bon Facebook
Bungendore is a small town so it doesn't take long to walk around it, however if you linger at each shop and do some shopping, stop for a coffee and have a chat to the locals, it is easy to spend the morning at this fascinating town. Just like most small towns, it is also the people and slow paced country charm that make it such a pleasant place to explore. If you visit on weekends however, don't expect it to be quiet as it then becomes a bustling town and tourist hotspot - which is the towns main income. There are also people visiting from Canberra on Market Day Sundays, arriving on The Stockman steam train organised by Canberra Railway Museum.
Whenever you visit Bungendore, however you get there, ensure you stay for awhile. It is also possible that with such friendly country hospitality, that if you stay for lunch at one of the friendly pubs - you may still be there by dinner. Now that's what I call a day trip.
One way to get to Bungendore. Source: Canberra Museum Railway Facebook