My last memory of camping was with my biological family as a teenager, to somewhere in the vicinity of the Wombeyan Caves. The idea of staying in a tent didn’t really enter my mind again until a chance win of an overnight glamping stay in Oberon’s Mayfield Garden.
My visit took place during their recent Spring Festival, which ran from October 13-28. During the festival, alongside the 36 acres of Mayfield Garden that are open to the public all the time, an additional 120 acres of the Hawkins’ private gardens are able to be viewed.
While the family friendly camping area is right at the Cafe and Produce Store and car park entry to Mayfield Garden, an adults only camping area is just a short walk away, inside the garden proper.
There’s reasonable separation between the fifteen, cream-coloured tents.
The tent interiors glow with a warm golden light during the day. Each tent is furnished with a Hugo Sleep mattress lifted up on wooden pallets from the natural fibre floor coverings. Two leather stools, and wooden crate bedside tables complete the tent's interior, that’s tall enough to stand in around the central pole.
With endless blue skies and sun blazing down, we took the time to explore the rest of the camping ground.
There are cubicles offering press-button hot showers, a clean and permanent toilet block, normally used by guests of Mayfield Garden, and a central space where a power box is supplied to charge the essentials, like your mobile phone.
We set up our wooden table and canvas chairs in the shade, and settled in to watch the sun go down over afternoon drinks. Belvedere vodka and Lo Bros. organic kombucha drunk from enamel-coated tin cups feels very rustic.
Before it gets too dark – they do supply you with a rechargeable lantern - we head on down to the Café & Produce Store for dinner.
It’s a simply furnished room with products down one side, and a counter in one corner.
There are two communal style tables, plus a host of smaller ones surrounded by farmhouse-style wooden chairs. The Glamping Package ($290/couple) includes dinner, set up in heated metal servers on one of the big tables.
It’s a simple, one-course affair with bread and salad, though glampers can add on a Wine + Antipasto Platter ($55) to their package. Wines are all drawn from the local region, coming from as close as O’Connell and Georges Plains, as well as slightly further afield in Orange and Mudgee. We decide upon the Phillip Shaw Pink Billy Saignee Rose ($43/bottle) from Orange; it's a savoury, salmon-pink blend of Shiraz, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Taken against the antipasto plate which offers up charcuterie, pickles, crackers, and simple cheeses, it’s an easy-to-like-sipper. The highlight of the plate was the earthy beetroot relish, eaten with herbed cream cheese on the house-made lavosh style crackers. Both the relish and the fruity olive tapenade are made onsite, using produce drawn from the estate.
Reducing the distance from farm to table sure makes a difference to salad. You can actually taste growth and chlorophyll in the collection of mixed leaves – they’re so good I actually eat two plates of them.
They’re served with smoky, tasty slow-cooked beef presented in long strands against a collection of cooked vegetables and potatoes, making for a healthy plate of simple food.
Over dessert, set around a metal campfire, we bond with our fellow glampers. They’re mostly from the regions or outer reaches of Sydney – places like Dubbo, Windsor and Wentworth Falls. We swap stories as we flame commercial marshmallows then roll them in chocolate sauce and flaked almonds for an Aussie version of s’mores. This American dessert's name comes because you’re likely to want ‘some more’ – though I hazard this would be more accurate if the kitchen had tried their hand at making their own marshmallows.
Campfire conversation continued back at the tents around blazing fire pits that helped us ward off the night-time cold.
The backdrop to your conversation sounds like a chorus of banjos being plucked, and it comes courtesy of the Eastern Banjo Frog. They sing up a storm for most of the night from the nearby obelisk lake (and people reckon cities are noisy). The star field is amazing with the only light nearby coming from lanterns inside the softly glowing tents.
We found it hard to get comfortable in the cold air, struggling with getting overheated in the queen bed topped with quality linen but disappointing pillows and way too many blankets and quilts. The benefit of this struggle to sleep was that we were up at dawn, taking in mauve and peach painted skies against another loud dawn chorus, this time from screeching birds.
Walking around the dew-covered garden in the gentle morning light worked out better than the shower, which without temperature you can control, can leave you feeling a bit like a cooked lobster.
Do note that the shower cubicle gets almost completely soaked, so choose where you bundle your clothes and shoes very carefully.
Our early start also meant we were first in line for breakfast, served back at the Café and Produce Store. While breakfast isn’t included in your package price – and to my mind, it should be – Garden Entry ($35/person) is, including buses up to the farther reaches of the family garden. I fuel up for the big walk ahead with a Bacon & Egg Brioche Roll ($12.50) set off with Mayfield relish.
My dining companion opts for the Mayfield Breakfast ($23), a not too-abundant collection of fried eggs, bacon, chorizo, and collection of cooked vegetables sitting on a crumbed mushroom that don’t quite work at breakfast time, even when doused in more Mayfield relish.
Drinks include a Latte ($6) and Orange Juice ($5.50) poured from a container rather than freshly squeezed. After checking out of your tent by ten, the day is then your own, to either explore the garden itself, or the surrounding countryside that includes the small, picturesque town of Oberon, just fifteen minutes drive away.
NOTE: See a previous review of this venue HERE.
Mayfield Garden Cafe & Produce Store
530 Mayfield Road, Oberon
Ph: (02) 6336 3131