Hunter Valley hotels
Hunter Valley Rundown
Add lush green valleys, the mighty Hunter River, a warm wet climate and fertile soil and what do you get? Australia’s best wine producing region – that’s what. The region is home to hundreds of wineries, including some of Australia’s most prestigious wine labels such as Lindeman’s, Wyndham Estate, McGuigan’s and Tyrell’s. If you’re a wine buff, a tour of some of the wineries is a must, and many offer wine tastings as well as a trip around the vineyards.
For those of you who don’t know your Chardonnay from your Sauvignon Blanc, worry not, because Hunter Valley has plenty of other activities and attractions up its sleeve. Barrington Tops National Park is a World Heritage wilderness of rainforest, swamps, streams and the Mount Royal Ranges – a series of volcanic peaks. The Hunter Wetlands Centre is around 10 minutes drive from Newcastle – the Hunter Valley capital – and is a good day out for twitchers with enough to keep the kids happy at the discovery centre.
Hunter Valley's Top 10
10. Rusa Park Zoo is home to native Australian wildlife in 24 acres of natural habitat.
5. Hunter Valley Gardens 60 stunning acres and over 10 show gardens.
9. Take in a performance at Hope Estate The top names in the music business appear at this outdoor Hunter Valley venue, but book well in advance.
4. Mount Royal National Park is where Hastings River Mouse and Parma wallaby live. Go and say hi to these Hunter Valley residents.
8. Newcastle Regional Museum puts historical Hunter Valley events into perspective, from coal mining to earthquakes.
3. Lake Macquarie For all you bush babies. Walking, fishing and boating within a few km of Newcastle.
7. Hunter Valley Zoo is a main animal attraction located between Cessnock and Pokolbin, with ‘roos, koalas, wombats, dingoes, reptiles and monkeys.
2. Lake St Clair is a 1540 hectare lake. Perfect for setting up camp next to. Grab your billy cans and pitch up. Talented anglers can catch your first meal.
6. Woko National park See if you can get a piggy back – these paths are steep.
1. Blackbutt Reserve No ifs or buts. Head here to feel at one with nature in Eucalypt forests and rainforest.
Hunter Valley Local
The Hunter Valley is where Sydney folk head for on a weekend, since it’s only a couple of hours drive away, with its thriving towns and cities interspersed with sleepy villages and hidden vineyards well off the beaten track. Wine Country is in the Lower Hunter region around the towns of Cessnock and Pokolbin, and for those who prefer a beer, the Bluetongue Brewery is considered one of the best in the state.
Maitland is a Hunter Valley town which was established in 1818 and the New England Highway links it to Newcastle in the south and the New England regions in the north. The town has many historic buildings and bridges, as well as Maitland Gaol which is now closed to compulsory guests, but is open to new visitors who can learn about its notorious past prisoners and escapees. The Maitland National Trust Museum houses a fascinating collection of memorabilia and runs Aboriginal heritage themed exhibitions. Maitland Regional Art Gallery offers a series of ever-changing exhibitions of both Australian and international works, and resident artists.
Newcastle is Australia’s seventh largest city, founded in 1804 as a penal settlement. This means it has – for Australia – some really old buildings. It also has surf, beaches and an impressive coastline. Newcastle – unlike its British counterpart – still acts as a coal port. The Convict Lumber Yards are still standing – they pale into insignificance date-wise however when you consider the thousands of years old Aboriginal site they stand on. Foreshore Park is where the railway yards used to be – it’s warehouses now transformed into shops and restaurants. Fort Scratchley is now a Maritime and Military Museum, and a bit farther on from the Fort is Nobby’s Headland which used to be an island. Nobby’s Beach and Ocean Baths are worthy attractions too – and scene of much scandal in 1922 when mixed bathing was first permitted.
Singleton is located between the upper and the lower Hunter Valley and is a popular tourist destination because of its gardens, history and culture – as well as its importance to the wine industry – especially Hermitage Road, with its large number of cellar doors. Buildings dating back to the early settlers include the All Saints Anglican Church and the Victorian Gothic rectory, both constructed around 1870. Singleton House Museum is housed in the town’s former courthouse and jail and has a fascinating collection of memorabilia.
Pokolbin is one of the most famous wine-producing regions in Australia, famed for its Shiraz and Semillon grapes. With over 140 vineyards and wineries to choose from, you can rub shoulders with wine enthusiasts from all over the world. Pokolbin is home to the oldest vineyards - Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard was established in 1866 and Drayton Family Wines have been here for quite a while too. Visitors can also get the chance to learn about how wine is made at the Hunter Valley Wine School.
Lovedale is situated to the east of Pokolbin and is regarded as Hunter Valley’s quiet side. An unhurried pace of like and little traffic on weekends makes it the ideal place for getting away from it all. Lovedale also has its fair share of wineries and activities though – from golf to hot air ballooning, as well as breathtaking scenery with the Brokenback Range providing a spectacular backdrop. Culture vultures can visit the Capercaillie Art Gallery – where you will most certainly be offered a glass of wine, and the chance to pick up some affordable, and often very good, works of art. And it would be rude not to pop into the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company’s headquarters while here.
Hunter Valley - Eat & Drink
Wine and fine dining go hand in hand which is why the Hunter Valley is home to some of the best restaurants in the country. Whether you are in search of Mexican, French, Italian, Japanese or modern Australian cuisine you will not have to look far, since every type of cuisine is covered. The area has been attracting some of the best international chefs to its restaurants too, helping to create the inspirational menus which you find everywhere in the Hunter region. From fine dining to gastro pubs, cafes to delis, there’s a restaurant around every corner – with the emphasis on fresh, generally home produced food – impeccable wine lists are included as standard.
Swill N Grill Tells it like it is. Famous for its mural by a local artist. Steaks and more, grilled to perfection, in Cessnock.
Panino Gourmet Deli and Caffe is located in Wollombi, for the best coffee in the Hunter Valley, plus a smorgasbord of delicious deli delights from gourmet sausages to sourdough breads.
Wollombi Tavern is located at the gateway to the Hunter Valley wine region and the place to go for a cold beer or infamous Dr Jurd’s Jungle Juice.
Mojo’s on Wilderness Road serves inspirational cuisine without attitude. With an inspirational seasonal menu which is a hit with locals as well as visitors to the Hunter Valley area.
Robert’s Restaurant is fine dining at its finest. Only the freshest, highest quality produce is used and the setting is to die for - amongst vineyards in Hunter Valley’s Pokolbin region, in a National Trust cottage dating back to 1876.
Café Enzo is renowned for its unique ambience and al fresco dining, as well as its Italian delicacies and Di Lorenzo coffee. Broke Road, Pokolbin is the place.
Restaurant Botanica in Pokolbin serves contemporary Australian cuisine and gets rave reviews. Not too pricey either.
The Muse Restaurant & Café is located in Pokolbin. Fresh local food cooked in an open kitchen and accompanied by top notch wines. Cosy up to the big fire in winter.
Esca Bimbadgen is situated in Pokolbin. Modern Australian cuisine within a winery. Only opens for lunch.
The Verandah Restaurant is located on the award-winning Calais Estate right at the heart of Hunter Valley. You can dine on the verandah overlooking Brokenback range or sit inside whilst enjoying the best Tapas in Hunter Valley.
Hunter Valley Events
Theatrefest Hunter is an annual Festival and Competition with theatre groups from the upper and lower Hunter region. At the Hunter Valley Actor’s Centre during September.
The Wollombi Music Festival is a September event with food, camping, drumming workshops and Kidsfest. The funky event takes place in Hunter Valley’s Wollombi Village.
Opera in the Vineyards is a real highlight on the Hunter Valley events calendar. This October event attracts top names and celebrate wine, beautiful arias and gourmet delights under the stars.
The Gum Ball is the ultimate bush party held annually in April at Belford, Hunter Valley.
Flavourfest is a June three day culinary event held in the Hunter Valley Gardens in Pokolbin. Cooking demos, fine food and of course, exquisite wines.
Hunter Valley Steamfest is Australia’s premier steam festival held in Maitland every April. Trains and excursions, food stalls and entertainment mean fun for everyone.
Upper Hunter Wine and Food Affair Started off with just a handful of foodies now it’s one of the biggest events on the Hunter Valley Calendar.
The Hunter Valley Harvest Festival is held in April, when the grapevines have been harvested. The emphasis is on food, wine and music at wineries and restaurants across the region.
Jazz in the Vines at Tyrrell’s Vineyard is one of the most significant outdoor Jazz events in Australia. Many top acts plus food provided by Hunter Valley’s top restaurants at the October event.
Hunter Valley Gourmet Cheese Festival takes place in May. Taste a selection of top cheeses, washed down with a drop of wine, naturally.
When To Go
The Hunter Valley is a mixture of Mediterranean and sub tropical – with the influence of the Pacific Ocean a factor. There are four very distinct seasons so you won’t be in any doubt which one you’re in.
Summer temperatures often reach an average high of 30°C and an average low of 18°C, during the months of December to March. Winter temps fall to a low of 8-20°C.
The heaviest rainfall tends to occur during the months of December to March. However the warm rainy summers are perfect conditions for growing grapes.
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What To Miss
For a more personal experience avoid the big wineries and visit the smaller boutique ones – the cellar doors in Lovedale have a great reputation with staff who know their stuff.
Give the summer season a miss if you can’t stand the heat – cooler months are much more conducive to a wine tasting tour. If you don’t like crowds then book a holiday when there are no major festivals on – the small towns and villages get absolutely jam-packed.
Beware of bush fires which strike the F3 Freeway and other main roads during the summer – and check weather conditions before you hit the road.
Those on a wine trail will not wish to take the car with them on a trip around Wine Country –and biking is an option – there are plenty of bike rental places across the region. Booking a guided tour is a popular way to get around – or, the best option – convince someone to be your designated driver. Sydney is around 150 km distance – around a two hour drive.
Rover Coaches run coaches from Sydney which drops off at various places including Cessnock and at many of the vineyards. Buses operate from the Hunter Valley Wine Country visitor centre in Newcastle.
CityRail operates a service from Newcastle to Maitland – which has a journey time of around 30 minutes.
Hunter Valley Information
One of the most beautiful regions of New South Wales, let alone Australia, the Hunter Valley is a tourist paradise. The area where more than 600,000 people call home has it all: pastoral countryside, vineyards, golf and some great towns. About 160 km from Sydney, Newcastle is where many people stay in the Hunter region before going on to more rural accommodations. The small city of just over 150,000 people has a lot to offer, from Nobbys Beach to Ocean Baths, Fort Scratchley and Blackbutt Reserve.
Ultimately however, the Hunter Valley is about places like Pokolbin, which lives at the epicenter of wine production in the region. From big labels like Lindemans and Tulloch to small boutique producers, the area is a paradise for wine and food lovers. A surfeit of golf and country resorts, recreation parks, world class restaurants and hotels ensure that visitors have plenty of options at their disposal.
Attractions & Activities
- The Mill
- Amanda's on the Edge
- The Cellar
Nightlife & Climate
The Hunter Valley enjoys a humid subtropical and oceanic climate, with warm weather throughout the year.
- Winter (June to September) 8-20°C
- Spring (October to November) 14-24°C
- Summer (December to March) 18-26°C
- Fall (April to May) 12-23°C
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With 38 guest rooms and a 4 star rating, the resort offers quality Hunter Valley wine country accommodation, dining, wedding and conference services. The resort includes The Mill Restaurant and... More
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Book 28 Days In Advance, Stay 2 Nights & Save 10%
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Vintage Drive Map
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Great location to visit hunter valley garden