Hidden in plain view

The small village of Lochinvar can sometimes be overlooked as it hugs the New England Highway between Central Maitland and Wine Country, just west of Maitland. But before you just drive on through, there are a few things you should know about this charming village.

Let’s start with some history. Lochinvar is home to Windermere House, a house that is said to be the oldest historic house in the Hunter Valley. It was built in 1821 by convict labour and was constructed on a grant of land by Thomas Wright Melville Winder. Winder, an English sea captain who became a very successful businessman, is credited as growing some of the first grapes in the valley. If you are out and about take the sneaky side road off Windermere Road to witness this piece of history.

Whilst you are on your drive, spend the time to take in some of the beautiful highlights that are within a stone’s throw from Lochinvar proper. First stop, Luskintyre. Stop at Mailtand’s one and only vineyard, Tranquil Vale, to indulge in a complimentary wine tasting of their award winning wines. Here you can just sit back and enjoy the surroundings, taking it in at your own time or have a member of the Tranquil team take you through the vines and provide you with a far more holistic and interactive wine experience. If you have a few too many here, you can stay the night in one of the cottages that have unobstructed views of the vineyard and hills beyond.

If you are visiting at the right time you can experience a ‘Lunch with the Tigers’. No there is no zoo or tiger sanctuary here but there is Luskintyre Airfield and Aviation Museum, home of vintage Tiger Moth aircrafts. In fact, it has the most operational Tiger Moths in the one place on the planet. This is a place where people with a love of aviation can come together to share stories, experience and fly together.

On your journey, make sure you drive across or stop and admire Luskintyre Bridge. This bridge is one of only two surviving examples in New South Wales of an early steel Pratt truss bridge and if the engineering significance doesn’t do much for you, this bridge also features in the movie ‘Tomorrow When The War Began’. You  could find yourself standing in the same space as Colin Friels or Lincoln Lewis.

Now that you have explored the surrounding area, it is time to come back to home base. At the heart of Lochinvar, you will find The True Café where you can spoil yourself in the culinary creations by the travelling gypsy chef Edwin Rose. Prior to settling down permanent roots in Lochinvar, Edwin has been a chef in exotic and exciting places all over the world such as India, Singapore, Italy, Canada and Scotland and has collected recipes and cooking techniques from many cultures. Edwin has brought all of his unique experience and crammed it into the one unique location, The True Café, which specialises in homemade artisan chocolates, handmade ice creams and gourmet pies.

The café features an eclectic array of vintage style interiors and curiosities. Comfortable leather lounges, vibrant children’s playroom and sunny outdoor area. The café has games for the young and young at heart and even a library where customers can borrow books and return at their

Produce for the café is sourced locally wherever possible from farmers markets and local businesses. You will find that the milk and cream for the handmade ice creams is sourced from Udder Farm, just around the corner. The ice cream flavours are changed frequently to feature the best of seasonal local produce. If you asked a regular, they would recommend the coconut cherry ripe or the mango and cumquat sorbet, because they are ‘to die for’.

If you can plan ahead and are staying the night in Lochinvar, see if you can get a seat at one of the themed dinner nights at The True Café. The dinners are held monthly and feature varying global flavours and different menus whilst being complemented with music or movies. If you want to see some of the proud Lochinvar locals then this is the way to do it.

If you haven’t quite taken it all in and need a place to rest your head, stay at Lochinvar House. This Georgian Victorian historic home, 1841, is a truly elegant and relaxing experience featuring all the trappings you would expect from a grand country home.

So next time you think of just driving through, I would reconsider.

Story by Edwin Rosenkranz