It has a proud history as one of New South Wales’ most significant river ports, and a rich architectural heritage that has been classified by the National Trust. But the Morpeth of today is about more than just its past – it’s a vibrant dining and retail precinct loved by locals and visitors alike.
Filled with boutiques and businesses that you won’t find anywhere else, the bustling riverside village has worked hard to establish itself as a destination in its own right, where people come to shop, socialise or just spend time soaking up its unique atmosphere.
Local business owner Lisa Simmonds-Webb said the way people view Morpeth has evolved over time as the town has expanded its appeal to encompass a melting pot of offerings that are unique, boutique and delicious.
“Most of the original buildings have now been restored, and we have a real mix of retail offerings and eateries, everything from antiques and art galleries to upmarket boutiques, fine jewellery, vintage shops, handcrafted products and fantastic food to both enjoy whilst you are in town or take home with you,” she said.
“I think that what really sets us apart is that we really are boutique, delicious and unique - you will find things in Morpeth that you truly would not expect.
“We don’t do chain store or mass-produced. A lot of our retailers pride themselves on the fact that their products are unique in one way or another. They may be locally made from local produce or imported directly from another continent to ensure individuality.
“Morpeth offers the opportunity to see world-class artists and bespoke fashion, as well as the most amazing Fairy Shop (perfect for little fairies). You will see shops in Morpeth that you just will not see duplicated anywhere else in Australia or maybe even the world.”
Of course, much of Morpeth’s charm still flows from its history and heritage, whether it’s the cobblestone alleyways filled with hidden treasures and places to explore or the beautifully restored architectural gems that house these unique businesses.
Lisa said Morpeth firmly embraces its heritage, with plenty of opportunities for visitors to sink their teeth into the history of the town, as well as its gourmet food offerings!
“I think that as Australians we are proud of our history and Morpeth has that in being the starting place for so many iconic Australian businesses like Arnott’s Biscuits, Soul Pattinson, Brambles, Sims Metals and Goldsborough Mort,” she said.
“In its heyday, Morpeth had no less than 22 hotels, 12 wharves where the tall ships docked and brought both their cargo and people to the town, and there were also five railways stations, one of which is still intact but now not operating.
“The fantastic thing is that while not all of the hotels and wharves exist anymore, a lot of the original buildings are still highly operational with their original features taking pride of place.
“A trip to the Morpeth Museum is a must if you are looking up family histories or just want to know more about Morpeth in general.”
Local business owners such as Trevor Richards from Campbell’s Store, who was awarded an OAM this year in recognition of his tireless work promoting Morpeth as a tourist destination, are the heart and soul of the village and its evolution.
During the past few years they have banded together to run joint promotions, competitions or events under the banner of “It Must Be Morpeth”.
This includes the popular It Must Be Christmas in Morpeth competition, which is once again offering visitors the chance to win $50,000 simply by spending $20 or more in any of the participating businesses during the promotional period.
The competition is on now and will run until 5pm on December 14. One winner, drawn on December 15, will be given the chance to win the $50,000 grand prize.
Lisa said promotions such as this one reflected the collaborative nature of the town’s traders.
“The majority of Morpeth businesses work together as we really want everyone who visits our town to have the best experience possible, and to return and bring their friends,” she said.
“I think that our promotions are designed to celebrate traditions but also to promote fun, to preserve the traditional aspects of family/leisure time and appreciate the finer things in life.
“We strongly believe in our town and our history, and we want Morpeth to be a place where the best memories are made. Even if you are just popping in for coffee or leisurely strolling the streets.”
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO in Morpeth
Book in for a pub lunch in one of the historic hotels
Taste some ginger beer at Campbells Store, where it is made onsite
Take home a Wonka bar or some homemade fudge from Miss Lily’s Lollies
Try a micro-brewed beer or visit Boydell’s cellar door for a glass of wine
Buy a Day of the Dead doll
Immerse yourself in the absolutely beautiful Christmas Lane (opened until December 24 2019)
Taste some honey and buy some sourdough
Take a selfie in front of the Morpeth bridge
Eat yourself silly in one or all of the amazing cafes and delis
Shop ‘til you drop in the boutiques and gift shops