Had Lieutenant William Ogilvie invested in vines, rather than bricks and mortar, as the basis of his private village he set up on the banks of the Hunter River in 1825, he may well be remembered today as a man of vision. As it was, the villagers of the Ogilvie town of Merton deserted to make their homes across the river when the rival township of Denman was gazetted in 1853.
Today the family cottage Ogilvie built is all that remains of Merton, while Denman, 22km south-west of Mussellbrook, stands guard over one of the Upper Hunter best-known wineries, Rosemount, which has developed on the site of an original vineyard planted in the 1860s.
There are a number of other wineries and horse studs near Denman which is also within comfortable driving distance of the Goulburn River National Park, a bushwalking favourite. The park's most prominent peak, 670m Mt Dangar, presents spectacular views of the region.
A 20km drive west from town takes you to the village of Sandy Hollow where the 'gentleman bushranger,' Captain Thunderbolt, held up the Merriwa-Denman mail coach.