The quiet and sleepy village of Collector is just a short distance from the Hume Highway between Canberra and Goulburn, but it feels like it’s a million miles away from the noise and speed of the highway. Home to just a few hundred people, it’s a top spot to stop on your next road trip, or for a mini day trip on its own. Collector may be small, but there are plenty of reasons to visit the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it location.
Collector’s main claim to fame is its colourful history, with The Bushranger Hotel in the main street the site where a member of bushranger Ben Hall’s gang shot the local police constable after holding up the publican back in 1865. The village is also located in the midst of the Lake George Wine region and the home of the fabulous Collector Pumpkin Festival, which will be happening this year on 6 May.
Why you’ll love it
Collector was once a thriving town with five inns, but the 1860 Bushranger Hotel is the only pub remaining. The hotel’s true moment of fame came when Constable Samuel Nelson, a father of eight, was shot by bushranger John Dunn when the Hall Gang raided the premises. There is a monument to Nelson outside the pub, and over the years, other pieces of bushranging memorabilia have been collected.
These days, the Bushranger Hotel is a refurbished country pub which combines modern day amenities with an 1860?s atmosphere, and serves great food, a cold beer and even offers accommodation.
There are several places of historical interest in Collector. These include the General Cemetery where there is a memorial to Constable Nelson; St Bartholomew’s Catholic Church, built around 1861; All Saints Anglican Church which dates back to 1859; and the General Store (now the home of eatery Some Café), in a building that went up in 1841. All the buildings can be inspected on a short walk of around half an hour around the village.
Several wineries have been established near Collector, including Lerida Estate, Lake George Winery and the award-winning Collector Wines. Their cellar door is located in a beautiful early 1800’s building in the village, and is open Friday to Sunday. There is usually a lovely open fire in winter.
Great places to eat
In an olive grove not far from Collector is Grandma’s at the Farm, a home-style café in a pretty setting. Grandma’s offers travellers Mediterranean-inspired meals, often made with local, fresh produce. Drop in to the farm shop and try some award-winning olive oil and olives from the grove. There is a large outdoor dining area and playground for kids. The cafe is closed for a revamp but is expected to reopen soon.
Some Café is a delightful place to stop for a drink or meal in the main street of Collector. The simple menu features home-grown, locally-sourced produce, and follows a paddock-to-plate philosophy, so its offerings change regularly with the seasons. It’s a fabulous, warm, cosy spot filled with artworks, books and quaint bits and pieces. They’re open Thursday to Sunday.
Collector Village Pumpkin Festival
The Collector Village Pumpkin Festival held on the first Sunday in May each year, is a fun-filled celebration of all things pumpkin, with pumpkin growing competitions, pumpkin soup, pumpkin scones, regional produce, stalls, activities, performances and displays, the festival has built a reputation as one of the regions not-to-be-missed annual events. Eat them, throw them, cook them, buy them, plus there are over eighty market stalls to visit and displays and entertainment to enjoy.
Collector is a very short detour off the Federal Highway heading north from Canberra towards Goulburn. Keep an eye out for the signs to the village after you’ve passed Lake George.
When to go
Pumpkin Festival time is a great time to visit Collector, but its other attractions are accessible year-round. There are more places open on weekends than during the week.
- Duration: less than an hour’s drive from most parts of Canberra
- Distance from Canberra: 56 km from the CBD
- Recommended for: anyone interested in history or bushrangers, wine buffs, foodies and travellers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the highway with a break in a quaint, tranquil rural setting
Have you taken a break from a road trip in Collector? Are there any sights or must-visit places you recommend?