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Hidden gems - A Malt House and Weir

I recently joined a group of friends and travelled to the Whitton Malt House for a Saturday lunch booking. It was our first visit to one of the Riverina region’s newest artisan destination eateries, and the stylish venue did not disappoint.

Our booking was for 12.30 and in the blink of an eye it was 5pm – the Malt House is the perfect place to while away a few relaxed hours.

Once our group was seated I was able to take in the building and trust me - this is not a country bumpkin cafe. Despite its ‘hidden gem’ location the Malt house is a beautifully stylish, sun-drenched building with an impressive menu to match.

The tasty Italian style bruschetta was large enough to share, and the arancini balls were crisp on the outside but deliciously moist inside. I chose pork belly as my main and it did not disappoint; the crackling snapped but the meat was tender and full of flavour.

Ordering a whiskey sampler board was on our bucket list, and hubby and I took turns sipping the five fiery varieties. Luckily we were guided by the information sheet provided to us, because we had little idea before then. The Malt House also offers a gin sampler board and if you book ahead, there is a guided tasting event available.

Too full for dessert we wandered through the gift shop, which boasts regional wares from toys to chocolates. Needing to walk off our lunch our group wandered outside to take in the gardens, lake and accommodation options.

The gardens are newly established but already beautiful, and many guests had also ventured outside and took advantage of the sunny day to lounge on the lush lawns. Wide paths and bridges meander around and across the lake, around to where a series of modern self-contained cabins are located. We were not able to take a peek inside, as bookings at the Malt House post-COVID have blown up, but they share a similar minimalist style to the main building. If you are considering staying for a special occasion I suggest you book way in advance.

We watched people fishing from the lake side, pursuing the elusive prize-winning tagged fish, but we chose to enjoy a hit of golf instead. Our group consisted of a couple of golfers, some enthusiastic rookies and one or two hopeless cases, but the fun is in the trying.

Tee off is across the water,and several colourful cups are installed in the lake; the object is to land a ball inside the cups, with various prizes on offer, including a night's accommodation. It sounds easy enough but let me tell you, not one of us walked away with a prize. Some of us - ok, mainly me - barely made contact with the ball, but it was a hilarious group activity that I will definitely try again, despite my lack of hand/eye coordination.

Wandering back to the outdoor seating area we snagged a table overlooking the gardens and ordered coffees and desserts. The coffee was good; the right temperature and delivered quickly, but the desserts stole the show. I tried the cannelloni, which cracked when I bit into it and the cream filling had just the right level of sweetness. Others chose melting moments biscuits and healthy sized servings of chocolate cheesecake, and given the silence that descended as we ate, I believe everyone was impressed.

It was only as we finished our coffees that we realised how much time had passed, simply chatting, eating, golfing, drinking and eating again. It was the perfect way to share a special day with a couple who had been forced to again cancel their wedding date.

As new caravan owners, we had bought our accommodation with us, which we set up at the nearby Gogeldrie Weir Caravan Park. If you don’t mind a dirt road, it is a ten minute drive from the park to the Malt House, but even following Google maps the drive is under 20 kilometres.

The caravan park is quiet, tucked away against the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, alongside the heritage-listed weir, which was constructed in 1959 and helped shape the inland irrigation areas of the region.

We paid $24 for a shady powered site, and it was the perfect spot to meet up with friends who live nearby. We chatted well into the night then slept with the lullaby of the water rushing through the weir.

The area is known for fishing and there are plenty of spots to launch a kayak or tinnie. The park offers cabin accommodation, unpowered sites, free electric barbecues, and full amenities, including a coin operated laundry. The decor is simple but useful, very reasonable in price and the staff friendly. There are plans afoot for redevelopment of the site, so we will definitely be back to check it out again.




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