The Hunter Valley: the Perfect Day Trip From Sydney
May 27, 2015
The Hunter Valley is the oldest wine region in Australia. It’s been perfecting the art of creating Semillon, Chardonnay and Shiraz since vines were first planted there in the 1820s.
However, the appeal of the Hunter Valley doesn’t just lie in its excellent wine and stunning verdant landscape but also in its unpretentious, laid back vibe. Its wineries welcome ‘grape snobs’ and novices alike. And it’s not just a place for imbibing. The Hunter Valley has now evolved into a foodie heaven, with local producers offering quality chocolate, cheese, olives and much, much more.
Less than two hours drive north of Sydney, the Hunter Valley offers the perfect day out from the city. So, what are you waiting for?
By car: the most direct route is via the F3 freeway. Follow the Cessnock/Hunter Valley Vineyards exit sign to Cessnock, which is the nearest Hunter Valley town to Sydney. If you’ve got a bit more time, Route T33 will take you through scenic mountain scenery and into the Hunter Valley via historic Wollombi.
By rail: trains to the Hunter Valley towns of Maitland, Newcastle or Singleton depart daily from Sydney’s Central Station.
By plane: there are daily flights from Sydney to Newcastle Airport. Some luxury Hunter Valley hotels, including ‘Tower Lodge’, can arrange arrival by helicopter.
Take a tour
If you feel like letting someone else do the driving, there are lots of different tours on offer. Some will collect you from Sydney in the morning and drop you back in the late afternoon. Or, if you’d rather, you can pick up a driver and guide via a local operator once you are in the Hunter Valley.
Here are some interesting options:
‘Two fat blokes gourmet tours’ offer half and full day personalised explorations of the wonderful foods and wines in the Hunter Valley. The company is run by a couple who know the region well, and have been involved in the wine and restaurant industries for over 35 years.
To get a bird’s eye view of the Valley, why not take a breath-taking early morning balloon flight over its orchards and vineyards? Most last around hour, and many include a champagne breakfast at the end. Or, if you want a truly exhilarating experience, several operators offer helicopter trips from Sydney over the Hunter Valley area.
Enjoy cruising around the vineyards in a classic 1960s car. Hunter Valley Cadillacs runs tailor made tours specialising in visiting some of the smaller wineries.
Work off the food and wine
If you want the perfect antidote to overindulging, why not spend a few hours cycling, horse riding or hiking through the Hunter Valley’s beautiful countryside? Bikes are easy to hire, and there are plenty of stables offering riding adventures for all ages and levels of experience.
Some of the wonderful natural attractions nearby include:
‘Werakata National Park’ which has great cycling and walking trails, including the ‘Deadmans’ mountain bike loop. In spring you’ll see a wonderful display of wildflowers, including acacias and banksias.
‘Kurri Sand Swamp’ is the place to see drooping red gums and small-flower grevilleas, as well as delicate spider orchids. Keep an eye out for kookaburras, swamp wallabies, red-necked wallabies, and lots of other woodland birds.
Go for a leisurely stroll in ‘Hunter Valley Gardens’. Set in 225 hectares, with many acres of international ‘display gardens’ showing planting styles from around the world, it hosts concerts in summer and themed evenings throughout the rest of the year.
There are many special and interesting events that are held in the Hunter Valley each year, but the most significant by far is the Hunter Valley Food & Wine Month from June 1 – June 30. This event is designed to showcase the region’s diverse culture of food and wine, and it does so by featuring a string of themed activities throughout the month of June.
A Culinary ‘Food Fight’ at the the Crowne Plaza Hotel on June 2nd.
The Whispering Brook Olive annual long table luncheon on June 6th.
The Cork & Fork Cup at the Vintage Golf Club on June 20th.
However you choose to spend your time in the Hunter Valley, you can be assured of returning to Sydney relaxed and exceedingly well fed!