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The Dungog Festival 2014

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by Carolyn Hopping (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
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A great excuse to visit one of the state's prettiest towns
Situated in the picturesque foothills leading to the Barrington Tops, and just three hours north of Sydney, Dungog is a classic Australian country town that makes a perfect destination for a weekend escape from the Big Smoke. With heritage buildings lining the main drag, an active arts scene, well-stocked antique shops, breathtakingly beautiful scenery and plenty of great drives and walking trails, there is something to keep everyone entertained in this lovely old town.

Image courtesy of the Dungog Festival website
Image courtesy of the Dungog Festival website

While a weekend getaway to Dungog is a great idea any time of the year, over August 28 - 31 an extra-special event, The Dungog Festival, will provide an additional impetus to pay a visit. With a beaut range of events held all around town, the festival showcases all that this delightful region has to offer, and provides interest and entertainment for the while family, from the smallest kids to the oldest matriarch. As the festival's website declares, it's 'four days of film, food, fresh air and fun, in the beautiful Dungog Shire'.

The festival program kicks off at 6pm on Thursday, August 28 at the lovely old James Theatre, with a great Spanish foodie film, Menu Degustacio, before everybody moves on to the Long Table Dinner at around 7.30pm (for an 8pm start), an unforgettable dinner showcasing the best of the area's local produce, that will take place under the stars, right down the middle of Dungog's iconic Dowling Street.

Image courtesy of the Dungog Festival website
Image courtesy of the Dungog Festival website

Once everybody has recovered from the decadent indulgences of the Long Table Dinner, Friday and the weekend will also feature a program jam-packed with cool stuff to see, do and listen to. Naturally, the festival will be most busy over the weekend, when working people and students are free from their regular duties. There will be more movies at the James Theatre, while music gigs around town include Tim Rogers Live at the Settler's Arm Hotel, and The Big Gig at the Dungog High School hall, which will feature three of Australia's hottest young bands.

Image courtesy of the Dungog Festival website
Image courtesy of the Dungog Festival website

If you're inspired by all the wonderful Hunter Valley produce that you've been tasting, and would like to extend your culinary skills, there will be workshops during the festival on a variety of topics including cheese-making, creating home preserves and baking the perfect batch of scones. On both Friday and Sunday there will also be markets held in town, so you can stock up on all sorts of delectable goodies to take home with you.

Image courtesy of the Dungog Festival website
Image courtesy of the Dungog Festival website

For those who love the great outdoors and find themselves yearning to explore the magestic Barrington Tops which beckon enticingly in the distance, be sure to take a drive out to some of the local beauty spots. Drop into Dungog Visitors Centre at 198 Dowling Street to get maps, brochures and good local advice. There will also be special group events organised for visitors during the festival including mountain bike tours of the Barrington Tops. Once again, the visitors' centre can tell you all about these.

As a popular weekend destination, the Dungog region has plenty of accommodation suitable for every inclination and budget. For the hardy who don't mind roughing it a bit, there are various kinds of camping options available, although if you also like your creature comforts, glamping may be more your style. There are also three classic country pubs in town offering good old-fashioned rooms, as well as the Tall Timbers Motel on Dowling Street. In addition, there are powered caravan sites at the local caravan park, a few bed and breakfasts, cabins, cottages, resorts and even homestays with friendly local people.

Image courtesy of the Dungog Festival / Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of the Dungog Festival / Wikimedia Commons

In a nutshell, this year's Dungog Festival promises to be a wonderful few days, in one of New South Wales' most picturesque and friendly regions. If you're hankering to escape the smog and stress of the city as the warm weather of spring gradually approaches, then a visit to this stunningly beautiful area may be just what you're looking for. To find out more about the Dungog Festival, including information about what's happening and where to stay, take a look at their website.
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Why? It's a great excuse to visit one of the prettiest regions in New South Wales
When: From 28 - 31 August 2014
Where: Dungog, in the Hunter Valley
Cost: It depends on what you do. See the website for more details.
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