Australia’s oldest commercial wine-producing region has been producing its own vintages since the early 19th century. Over time, the Hunter Valley has developed into a favourite weekend retreat for Sydney-siders, famous for its rustic accommodation, laid-back attitude and decadent dining and drinking scene.
Best of all, if you are based in Sydney, you can reach the Hunter Valley in a mere two hours’ drive. From Newcastle Airport, it’s only one hour. With that in mind, some people even choose to make a day of visiting the area, leaving Sydney in the morning and returning after sunset. However, nothing compares to settling into a little bed and breakfast and taking life a bit more slowly.
If you are planning a visit to Hunter Valley, it’s worth coordinating the outing with a tour operator. This is a particularly good idea if you plan on visiting the region’s wineries. Rather than having to worry about appointing a designated driver, your entire group can enjoy the experience and leave the driving to the professionals. This is the safest, most responsible way to approach a weekend in Hunter Valley.
Hunter Valley can be divided into two predominant regions:
The upper region of the Hunter Valley features the best of Australia’s rural offerings. A drive through the countryside reveals old homesteads, rolling plains and plenty of untamed bushland. Several grape varietals are grown here, and Riesling is among the most popular. In addition to stopping by a few wineries in Upper Hunter, there are also some fine restaurants and farmers’ markets worth exploring here. To properly enjoy your time in Upper Hunter, enquire with a tour operator about exploring the Upper Hunter Wine Trail – a foodie’s dream come true.
Lower Hunter boasts well over 100 wineries, and a great many varietals are produced here – from Shiraz to pinot noir. The Pokolbin region is in Lower Hunter and boasts some of the oldest vineyards. If you’re visiting the Lower Hunter region, consider chartering a hot air balloon for a high-flying view over the wine country.
Popular Attractions in the Hunter Valley
Wineries are the main attraction in Hunter Valley, but there are also a few other sites worth taking in. The following are among them:
- Hunter Valley Gardens – A 60-acre garden that hosts special arrangements and events throughout the year.
- Wollombi Courthouse – The township of Wollombi dates to the 1870s, and its history can be explored here at the Endeavour Museum, which is housed in the courthouse.
- Boutique Wine Centre – This is an interesting facility that serves as a tasting room for boutique wineries so small that they don’t even have a cellar door.
Making the Most of a Hunter Valley Holiday
As mentioned above, the Hunter Valley is a popular weekend retreat destination. However, you could easily spend several days here enjoying everything that the region has to offer. Make the most of your time in the valley by arranging the excursion through a tour company that knows the region. Doing so ensures that you enjoy the best selection of accommodation and get to see all of the essential sites.
One of the real pleasures of a night or two in the Hunter Valley is the chance to really pamper yourself. There is so much incredible food in the region, and you could easily plan the entire excursion around the eateries you would most like to visit. Opposite this, you could even retire to a comfortable country estate for the night and hire a chef to come out and prepare your meals for you. With a tour agency behind you, customising your experience is easier than ever.