Done as a trip outside of Sydney, whether for a day or a couple, the Hunter Valley is claimed to be New South Wales’ oldest wine-producing region, with more than a hundred wineries. It’s located a 2 hour drive north, and includes the town centres of Pokolbin, Cessnock, Wollombi and Rothbury in the Lower Hunter Region.
The fastest way up are the inland motorways, but there’s a scenic Tourist Drive 33 which goes through the picturesque countryside and somewhere closer along the coast. We did a mix of both, just to see what it was about, and honestly I didn’t think the tourist drive was all that great or worth your while as it adds more time to your journey. Rolling through another row of bed & breakfasts or a field of cows grazing gets old pretty quickly, or at least it did for me so we rejoined the highway.
In Hunter Valley itself, there are quite a number of things to do.
1. Wine Tasting
Given it’s prominence as a wine-producing region, that’s naturally one of the biggest draws to the area, and you can go wine tasting and hop from vineyard to vineyard.
One of the most popular wineries includes the historic 1866 Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard which has become an institution in the valley.
You could also join a niche wine masterclass depending on your interests and take a bottle (or a few) back home.
Many wineyards also offer world-class dining with some stunning views over their wineyards and the surrounding region.
Recommended restaurants include Circa 1876 and Muse.
2. Cheese Tasting
A natural companion to wine, the valley also offers quite a few experiences where you can go cheese tasting or cheese making. You can head to Hunter Valley Cheese Factory for these tours, and head to the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop for some of the finest local and imported cheeses.
3. Celebrate in the Valley with Festivals, Concerts and Markets
Hunter Valley is also home to many festivals and events happening throughout the calendar year, definitely check out the official Hunter Valley website for the latest happenings.
Some big ones include the Hunter Valley Wine & Food Festival, as well as concerts headlined by world-renowned musicians.
In addition, you have a number of local markets to choose from in the link above, and I do love a good local farmers market.
4. Visit the Hunter Valley Gardens
The Hunter Valley Garden is a sprawling compound in Pokolbin, which was a work in progress for over 4 years, a collaborative effort of landscape gardeners, architects and engineers.
Occupying 25 acres of land, the Gardens feature many different gardens of different themes and you can easily spend an hour or two just walking through these gardens.
5. Sports and other Experiences
For an unforgettable experience, you can even go hot air ballooning in the valley, and two of the recommended air balloon tour operators include Balloon Safaris and Wine Country Ballooning based in Pokolbin and Rothbury.
Not to mention you can go horse riding, golfing and cycling in the valley, and you can treat yourself to an indulgent spa experience at the end of that.
The Hunter Valley was made for getting away from the hustle and bustle of one of Australia’s most important and busiest cities in the form of Sydney, and is probably one of the biggest reasons why the Hunter Valley itself is so well-visited.
Hell, you could even get married here and I imagine it would be one of the most incredible settings and experiences to get married in.
This little field of lavender flowers were blowing in the wind on our drive to Hunter's Valley in New South Wales, Australia. When it comes to getting out to nature, I honestly think few places are as stunning yet well-kept as Australia.
At this point, almost all my floral designs for prints have been flowers from the Hunter Valley and this one's no exception. We were driving around headed to the various wine yards in the area, and yet it felt like the gardens of each yard was pruned to perfection seemingly effortlessly.
At this particular vineyard we were at, we sadly arrived just after it closed, but still, we roamed the grounds of the vineyard and I found this bush of flowers just blowing in the wind. I took a photograph of it and I love that you can see it in motion even in a photo.