Contrary to popular belief, Australia is not just about the sun, sand and sea. There is another side to this island continent, replete with fine dining, wine tasting, chocolate and cheese tours, hot air balloon trysts, horse riding, and games of golf on sunny afternoons.
This is the Australia of Parisian dreams, the quaint Hunter Valley. Characterized by abundance and decadence, Hunter Valley is all about living the good life, with the best that life has to offer.
150 top quality vineyards, cellars, and wineries open their arms to welcome the connoisseur. As the birthplace of the Australian wine industry, Hunter Valley has a reputation that keeps on getting finer with the age of its award winning wines.
Attractions and Activities
Hunter Valley Wine School: Visitors can indulge their taste buds in ‘Semillion’, widely regarded as Australia’s gift to the wine world, ‘Chardonnay’, the world’s favorite white grape or ‘Shiraz’, Australia’s very own red wine. The Hunter Valley Wine School even conducts informal wine tutorials every day at 9:00 a.m. This on-site winery seeks to educate participants on the history of wine, the Australian Wine Judging System, and all things viticulture.
Hunter Valley Wine Tours: These tours take guests through the rich history of local towns like Singleton, Patterson, Maitland, Lovedale, Broke, Wollombi and Pokolbin. In addition to showcasing the wine-making tradition of these regions, regional producers also display gourmet chocolate, olive oils, cured meats and dairy products, thus making these tours a feast for the senses.
Winemaker Centre: For those who don’t like driving all over the Hunter Valley wineries, the Small Winemakers Centre presents a unique opportunity to taste the most prestigious samples from the finest cellars. Visitors can relax at the Icon Lounge and take in the otherworldly experience with breathtaking views of the Brokenback Ranges across the vineyards.
Hunter Valley Gardens: But wine is not all that Hunter Valley offers. In addition to treating the taste buds, it also provides visual delight to its patrons. The Hunter Valley Gardens, nestled at the foothills of Brokenback Ranges, is one such example. It is stretched over 60 acres of enthralling international gardens that display the most sensational fragrances, adventures, colors and sights. The Hunter Valley Gardens is also a prominent wedding destination in Australia and hosts the Annual Wedding Fair which is attended by couples from all over the world.
Feature Gardens: 8 kilometers of walking paths take visitors to 10 individual feature gardens which include the Storybook Garden, the Oriental Garden, the Sunken Garden with its precious waterfall, the Border Garden, St. Francis of Assisi’s statue at the Italian Grotto, Rose Garden, Indian Mosaic Garden and the Formal Garden.
Balloon Safaris: Visitors can enjoy thrilling balloon safaris that take them over roling vineyards. . The Peterson’s Champagne House conducts rides 45 minutes before sunrise. Beautiful hot air balloons gap at the breathtaking views of Brokenback Ranges, and across the graceful vines of Hunter Valley. The whole experience lasts 4 hours. The flights conclude with a gourmet breakfast and champagne.
Golf Courses: With acres of lush greenery, stunning rural views and invigorating fresh air, Hunter Valley, Australia is also home to some of the world’s most prestigious golf courses. Visitors can opt for a leisurely round of golf at the Hunter Valley Golf and Country Club or the Vintage Golf Club.
A wide range of day spas at the Valley comfort the tired traveler with a plethora of exotic massages, facial treatments, and body wraps.
Hunter Valley Map
Facts about Hunter Valley
- The first white settlement during the colonial era saw the establishment of wineries in Hunter Valley. The first vines were planted around 1820 while large scale cultivation became popular by 1860.
- Hunter Valley is the sixth most visited tourist spot in Australia and attracts over 2.5 million visitors every year. A significant majority come to ride the heritage Hunter Valley Steam Rain that runs only thrice every month.
- Hunter Valley has given rise to notable names in the wine world. Tyrrell’s, Lindeman’s, Wyndham Estate, McGuigan and McWilliams have called the Valley home for generations.
- The best of Australia’s thoroughbred and race horses are bred and reared at Hunter Valley. One of the world’s largest horse breeding programs is run in the Upper Hunter area of Scone.
Where is Hunter Valley?
Hunter Valley starts 75 miles to the north of Sydney, and stretches further for another 120 miles. One of the largest river valleys in New South Wales, Australia, the region comprises highland areas lying to the north and south of the Hunter river. Several tributaries of the river too, flow through this region.
Reach by Air:
Two international airports lying close to Hunter Valley are the Sydney Airport and the Newcastle airport.
It takes a quick 2-hour drive from the main Sydney city via the F3 Freeway to reach Hunter Valley. From Newcastle airport a cab will take the visitor to Hunter Valley in less than two hours via the New England Highway and A43. However private charters and helicopters can access the Cessnock Airport, which is located right in the heart of the Valley.
Helicopter transfers are available to most parts of Hunter Valley. They offer some unforgettable photo opportunities.
Travel within Hunter Valley:
Car rentals are the best option to explore the scenic views of the Valley although coaches and bus-transfers are easily available from Newcastle and Sydney.
Best time to visit Hunter Valley
The Hunter Valley weather is a mild and moderate Mediterranean one. January is the hottest month and average daily summer temperatures exceed 70°F. July is the coldest month and average minimum temperatures plunge to 40°F. Summer witnesses the heaviest rainfall while winter has mild rainfall.
Summer in Hunter Valley starts from the end of January and lasts till March. This is also the harvest season and so the best time to visit the Valley. Autumn comes in May when the vines turn an orange-red hue, mesmerizing travelers.
August and September witness spring when the whole valley turns green with new foliage and blooms. Temperatures are pleasant and hover at around 70°F; jazz and opera performances are organized in the vineyards. During winters too, Hunter Valley draws many visitors.
More on Hunter Valley
What are the coordinates of Hunter Valley?
Hunter Valley is located at the coordinates of 32.9167°S and 151.7500°E.
What are some attractions near Hunter Valley?
Mount Royal National Park, Barrington Tops, Pokolbin State Forest, Karuah Nature Reserve, Wollombi Valley, Lake Macquarie, Hunter River
Image credit: F Delventhal