About Broke Fordwich Wine Region
The region was first inhabited by the indigenous Wanaruah tribe many thousands of years ago. They were known as ‘the people of the hills and plains’ and several direct descendants still live in the area today and are respected custodians of the Wanaruah culture. These culturally and environmentally rich people left many significant cave paintings in the area. The most famous and accessible being the red ochre ‘Baiame Cave’ depicting the ‘creator of all things beautiful’. The Wanaruah welcome visitors to respectfully admire the magnificence of this national treasure. European settlement first occurred in the early 1820’s when John Blaxland (of the early exploration family) was granted 8,000 acres of land upon which he built a grand sandstone home. Broke was officially named in 1830 by Major Thomas Mitchell after a colleague, Sir Charles Broke-Vere. The township of Broke soon flourished, situated as it was on the convict trail north from Sydney.
The Broke Fordwich Wine Region has two villages - Broke and Bulga each with their own identity as well as the two smaller communities of Fordwich and Milbrodale.
The massive Yellow Rock escarpment stands grandly on guard above Broke Village and has vantage points from the surrounding valley. Broke was named after Sir Charles Broke-Vere a military colleague of Colonial Surveyor General Major Thomas Mitchell. The newly refurbished Mill Pond Bridge at Monkey Place is in remembrance of the flourmills that once dotted the horizon. Broke is the larger of the two villages with over half of the total area’s population of 790 living in the village.
Once on the main stock route through from Sydney to the Hunter and now the gateway to Wollemi and Yengo National Parks the Village of Bulga is surrounded by grazing properties with Olive Groves and Vineyards dotting the horizon. Bulga is also well known for its delicious citrus fruit. The Putty Road, which is one of the gateways to the region, passes through Bulga. The Village boasts the only tavern in the area and the National Parks and Wildlife headquarters for the area is also located here.
(Fordwich Soldiers Settlement Purchase Area.)
At the end of WW l the Fordwich Soldier Settlement Purchase Area was created with many planting grapes on their 10-acre allotments. These allotments were from land owned by the Blaxland family as part of the original land grant to John Blaxland Snr in the late 1820’s. Convicts were used to make handmade bricks. The Tulloch family had acquired most of the allotments by the 1930’s due to depression and severe hail storms which devastated the vines and today Sentry Rock Vineyard still has some of the original vines that were planted in 1922 and is tended by John Tulloch.
John de Marguet Blaxland son of John Blaxland drove cattle from Sydney to the “Fordwych” property in the early days. The road was known in those days as Commeray Rd.
At Milbrodale the significant Aboriginal rock painting “Biame” can be viewed by travelling on a private road. A small payment is required. Present day action in the community involves off road racing events. The Milbrodale Mountain Classic and the Tuff Truck Challenge are held in this area on a yearly basis.
Settlement of the area took place -- between 1822-1824. Milbrodale was critical in the history of the area. There are many 3rd and 4th generation families still residing in the area. The Wollombi Brook flows through the catchment in approximately the same location as it did 30 million years ago, providing the agricultural industries with a water source. The locals call it the Cockfighter.
NSW State Heritage Inventory - includes these items
- Bulga Bridge over Wollombi Brook, Bulga
- Blaxland House Fordwich Road
(The house no longer stands but there are photographs. Stones from this house can be found in Blaxlands Restaurant Pokolbin)
- Cemetery Broke
- War Memorial Broke
- Cemetery Bulga
- War Memorial Gates Inlet Road Bulga
- Mana Immaculate Roman Catholic Church Broke
- St. Andrew’s Anglican Church Wollombi St. Broke
- Mount Leonard Putty Road Bulga
- Mount Leonard Public School (now the Scout Hall) Putty Road Bulga
The Broke Fordwich Wine Region area accounts for 11% of the vineyard area planted in the Hunter Valley and can be found between the lower Hunter and the Upper Hunter Valley. Singleton Local Government area is known as the Heart of the Hunter Valley. Previous agricultural activities have included dairying, orange orchards and market gardens including potatoes and carrots.
Grapes from the area have been processed in Pokolbin from early times with the Tulloch family being the most prominent. The Elliott family, original owners of the present Oakvale Vineyard also had smallholdings in the area. The area is now dotted with small boutique wine holdings ranging from 5 acres to over a 100. The area boasts 4 wineries, 8 cellar doors, 20 accommodation places, 4 restaurants and other small farm produce shops and businesses.
Known as the “Tranquil side of the Hunter Valley” the area boasts a picturesque rural ambience and is striving to become the most interesting and diverse rural community in Australia - as defined in a Strategic Plan created by the community with assistance from the NSW Department of State and Regional Development.