Morpeth is a beautiful, historic little town founded in 1821 and is Australia's second oldest river port. Located in the Hunter Valley, this beautiful town is only 30 minutes from Newcastle and 2 hours north from Sydney.
Morpeth town maybe small, but it certainly can provide a day's worth of fun and great sightseeing activities. Morpeth caters for the food connoisseurs, fashion and jewellery lovers, art collectors, hand crafted and hand made one off pieces plus more. This town has really made its mark on the tourist map as a must see place if you are wanting to experience a unique outing.
The beautiful town has a wonderful story behind it, and it has managed to maintain its heritage through many of the buildings, unique walk ways and uneven cobble stone paths. Morpeth's role as one of the most important river ports in New South Wales began in the 1820s and under the instruction of the Colonial Secretary, 1833 saw the development of the public wharf for Morpeth.
Queens Wharf, as it was named, was to become a heavily frequented river port by settlers, merchants, mariners, timber getters and farmers. During its time as a major industrial and agricultural hub, Morpeth helped to lay the foundation for the development of the entire Hunter Valley. Whilst no longer famous for its primary industry, the Morpeth of today continues to thrive with many visitors exploring the township each year.
The main street of Morpeth is where anyone should start their tour. I recommend to start at the Alpaca entry way. You will feel like you have been teleported back in time as you walk through the side alley and are greeted with an array of small unique gift shops, cafes and the famous Alpaca store. This store offers beautifully handmade garments, gifts, blankets and more. The gorgeous coffee shop is a popular spot with locals and visitors offering a varied selection on it menu.
As you make your way through the cobble stone path into each store you are automatically greeted and asked where you are travelling from. One of the many stores I visited was a handmade wares shop where they stock beautifully handmade plates and dishes; absolutely beautiful pieces of work. As you make your way through the town, you will see a variety of wonderful shops, but I have three must see places in Morpeth that you really need to visit. The Art Gallery, The Campbell's Store and Arnott's Bake House – home of Morpeth Sour Dough.
Trevor Richards opened Morpeth Investment Art Gallery for business in 1991 as part of the Campbell's Store Craft Centre complex, in Morpeth's main cobblestone lined street. Since then it has doubled in size twice, and is located adjacent to Campbell's Store. Morpeth Gallery now comprises a Landscape/Still Life wing and a Wildlife wing, each featuring 150 original paintings on the wall at any one time, with a third section dedicated to Giclee limited edition & open edition prints and other giftware such as greeting cards, children's books, illustrated books, mugs, coasters & snack trays featuring the work of the artists represented at the gallery. Upstairs is where you will find art work from professional, dedicated artists. Works range from landscapes, seascapes & wildlife and still life and can be purchased through the gallery.
This wonderful store filled with an array assortment of condiments, jams, cordials, sweets and more…much more is a great way to pick up something very special to share or a gift. You can taste traditional Ginger Beer brewed on the premises in Morpeth Ginger Beer Factory. You can watch your cordial being brewed on old fashion equipment, which is stirred by hand. It is then bottled and labelled and ready for delivery.
There are twelve flavours to choose from which you are welcomed to taste test. Campbell's Store is open from Thursday to Sunday, between 10am to 5pm. Check out their website for on-line purchases or to check out the Tea Cosy Competition.
The original site where William Arnott, the biscuit baker and his brother David baked bread and ship's biscuits in the 1860s. Now owned by Stephen and Allison Arnott, Stephen is following in his great, great, great grandfather's footsteps of producing sourdough bread for the township of Morpeth.
Morpeth Sourdough is available at the original shop at the front of the building retailing fresh sourdough from Wednesday to Sunday. Also available is Morpeth Sourdough's new award winning range of premium Muesli, sourdough crisp breads, croutons and yummy European style Gingerbread. The bakery is open from 10am to 4pm Wednesday to Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday.
County is located upstairs in the historic Arnott's Bakehouse building, on the main road of Morpeth. Wander through the smell of freshly baked Morpeth Sourdough to well-spaced out tables and friendly service. The menu compliments the season and is fresh and tasty. We tried the local marlin ceviche, the mushrooms and a plate of polenta chips with homemade dipping sauce. They were also able to cater for small children, where we had the choice of meatballs and rigatoni and crumbed whiting fillets with polenta chips. County Dining are open Thursdays from 6pm to late, Fridays from 12pm to late, Saturdays from 12pm to late and Sundays from 11am to 4pm.
Autumn is the perfect season to visit Morpeth. There are plenty of activities and events that will have you smiling from ear to ear and a guaranteed belly full of delicious food, there is accommodation available in Morpeth or in the Hunter Valley.