New to Canberra, we’d driven through Bungendore a few times on the way to the coast, but we’d never stopped to savour its delights. We decided that this had to change, and planned to visit Bungendore on a mild autumn morning in April.
Originally inhabited by the Ngarigo people, Bungendore was one of the first villages to be settled in the region, and is located around 30 minutes drive to the east of Canberra.
This little village has a small population but a huge personality, with an impressive offering of cafes, restaurants, galleries and gift shops, perhaps due to the fact that Bungendore thrives on tourism.
Come on a journey with us as we share the businesses we visited that made our day in Bungendore one we didn’t want to end.
The Gathering + Rushe Photography exhibition
There’s no better way to start your day in Bungendore than breakfast and coffee at The Gathering on Gibraltar Street. Their coffee is made with Lonsdale Street Roasters’ iconic infrared roasted beans and is sure to put a pep in your step, and their breakfast menu has a carefully curated selection of homemade delicacies. We tried the freshly made corn fritters topped with poached eggs, homemade relish and crispy bacon, as well as the perfectly proportioned breakfast burrito—so delicious!
If you’re just popping in for brunch, I recommend balancing the thrilling bitterness of your morning espresso with a fresh pastry from Three Mills Bakery — The Gathering stocks a range of croissants and Danishes.
While you’re visiting The Gathering, don’t forget to check out the Rushe Photography exhibition, featuring a collection of photos from Jerusha McDowell, a freelance photographer and filmmaker based in the NSW Southern Tablelands.
Sage Natural Living — Eco Homewares & Gift Shop
After your appetite has been sated, it’s time to browse the businesses of Bungendore, of which there are many!
Started by Louise Sailer almost 20 years ago, Sage Natural Living is a homewares and gift shop on Ellendon Street. It’s filled to the brim with ethically sourced, chemical free and sustainable living products, many of which have been produced in the region.
Wandering through the shop, I felt a little overwhelmed at the array of ethical gifting options — organically-grown bamboo basics, face and body care made with natural ingredients, and a huge range of oils, crystals and teas for all of one’s self care needs.
Bungendore Wood Works Gallery
The next must-visit in Bungendore is the Wood Works Gallery, which is one of the oldest remaining business in Bungendore, started almost 40 years ago by Manhattan-originating Bungendore local David MacLaren OAM.
The gallery is jam-packed with works by over two hundred local craftspeople, including impeccably crafted chairs, boxes, vases, and so much more.
Not only is it an inspiring place to wander through, sparking ambitions to take up a craft, it’s also the perfect place to buy small souvenirs and gifts — from useful items like gorgeous salt and pepper grinders made from Jarrah and She Oak, to dozens of tactile sculptural animal artworks, and more.
Kings Junction — High Tea Extravaganza
After all of this browsing and shopping, it’s time for a snack — but not just any snack… high tea!
Kings Junction, led by the bubbly and welcoming Kylie Johnson, is an eclectic cafe, gift shop and community hub located just off Ellendon street in the Bungendore Village Square. They offer standard (and delicious!) breakfast, lunch and dinner fare, but if you’re looking for something special then Kings Junction High Tea is exactly what you’re after.
When we arrived we were seated at the most beautifully styled table, with layer upon layer of mouth watering treats, both sweet and savoury—sandwiches and roulades, scones, eclairs and cheese cakes.
All this, paired with our choice of T2 tea. We chose a Pumping Pomegranate blend and a divine French Earl Grey. Kings Junction also roasts their own coffee beans, if that’s more to your taste!
Flock at the Carrington
After walking around the beautiful streets of Bungendore to let the High Tea settle in our bursting bellies, we headed to Flock at the Carrington.
The Carrington was originally built in 1885 as the Cobb & Co Coach Inn, and in recent years has been restored to its former splendour, with vibrant interiors and a huge verdant courtyard with a human-sized chess board!
We were ready for a draught beer by this stage, so we headed towards the flashy copper bar with ornate pressed metal ceilings and opted for a local ale by Capital Brewing.
They also have a diverse menu—it’s definitely worlds better than ‘pub fare’—and so we opted for a margherita pizza which came out positively dripping with succulent, stringy cheese.
Norton Road Wines — Vineyard & Restaurant
Last but not least, on our way back to Canberra we stopped in at Norton Road Wines… how could we not!
Norton Road Wines is a family-owned vineyard, cellar door and restaurant located in Wamboin, owned and run by Karen and Simon. They specialise in growing and making small batch, cool-climate wines, and also offer a delightfully particular menu of slow-cooked meats in their American BBQ themed restaurant, Biggie’s BBQ.
We enjoyed a wine tasting on the balcony overlooking the vineyard, with rows and rows of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Riesling, first planted in the 1990s. My personal favourites were the Pinot Noir and the Rosé.
Without a doubt, Bungendore offers the perfect day trip for couples or families. After our day in Bungendore, our bellies and hearts were full—the small business owners we met showed us the best of what regional culture has to offer and we couldn’t wait to return—and given it’s located so close to Canberra, why wouldn’t we!