Exploring the Hunter Valley with Avis
Drive the open country roads of the Hunter Valley to visit fine eateries and cellar doors. Now is the ideal time to plan your gourmet road trip with confidence, taking advantage of flexible, risk-free car hire booking with Avis Australia.
It’s Australia’s oldest wine region yet the Hunter Valley has a contemporary buzz where there is always something new to uncover. Home to more than 150 wineries and a diverse array of restaurants and gourmet food providores, it’s just a two-hour drive from Sydney.
Feel the fresh air as you wind your way through rural roads overlooking green paddocks and vineyards, grazing animals and prized winery estates.
Plan your getaway with an Avis Australia vehicle, relaxing with the knowledge Avis offers increased flexibility with all bookings made until December 19, including the ability to change or cancel your reservation up to 24 hours before your trip with no cancellation fees. With the complimentary Avis Preferred programme you’ll also enjoy a raft of benefits including faster bookings, priority pick up and drop off service and a free additional driver.
Enjoy your 3rd day free when you book for three or more days with Avis, including a Saturday night, plus a free upgrade.
Use code: TPPA012
Offer valid on rentals commencing between 22 April until 30 June 2021.
Above: The menu is casual at Leaves and Fishes
The Hunter Valley can be approached from Sydney by two different routes. The Tourist Drive on road ‘33’ is the less-travelled option, taking the Peats Ridge exit from the Pacific Motorway M1 freeway towards Branxton. The more direct route is along the M1 north from Sydney towards Newcastle, joining the Hunter Expressway to take either the Lovedale Road, Wine Country Drive or Hermitage Road exits.
Before packing your hire car, download the Avis Australia app to seamlessly assist with your car rental process. You could also download the comprehensive Hunter Valley map at winecountry.com.au or alternatively, drop into the Hunter Valley Visitor Information Centre on arrival for a free, printed map. Currently, most wineries and restaurants require bookings – so plan and book ahead (including tastings) to avoid disappointment.
With so many epicurean highlights, it’s quite possible to take days to experience the best of the region. To help, we have outlined three easy-to-navigate day routes to follow from the comfort of your Avis vehicle.
Operators in picturesque Lovedale pride themselves on the area’s small and boutique-style vibe.
Start at Adina Vineyard on Lovedale Road for breakfast at Emerson’s Restaurant by chef Emerson Rodriguez. Dine indoors or alfresco on the deck alongside a huge lawn. If you order the smashed avocado on ciabatta, with toasted seeds and Binnorie labna, you may get a taste for the award-winning soft cheeses by Binnorie Dairy. Visit its nearby tasting room on Lodge Road to try labna, marinated fetta and more. Make your way to a tasting at Gartelmann Wines – don’t miss the huge sculptural magpie, the winery’s symbol, boldly affixed to an exterior corrugated wall.
Above: Binnorie Dairy makes award-winning cheeses
Be lured to popular lunch spot Leaves and Fishes on Lovedale Road, with a casual approach to its menu – including scallops, fish and chips, soft shell crab, tuna tartare and trout and miso slaw. Eat on the deck beside the pond watching wildlife, including Dolly the resident duck, swimming with fishes.
Make your way to Emma’s Cottage Vineyard on Wilderness Road. Walk up its scented rose-lined pathway to the cellar door which also doubles as an art gallery, showcasing rotating artworks from the Hunter Women’s Artist Network – all available to purchase.
In the evening dine at Wandin Kitchen restaurant on Wilderness Road. Recline on French bistro-style chairs and white-clothed tables in the light-filled dining room with rustic exposed timber ceiling beams. Overlook vineyards as you relish dishes made from quality
local produce and created by head chef, John Rutherford.
Above: The Emma's Cottage cellar door doubles as an art gallery
Broke Road, Pokolbin
Start at Pokolbin Village Estate for breakfast at Fawk Foods Kitchen and Bakery. The casual eatery by chef Frank Fawkner, who also runs EXP. restaurant, is popular with locals for its sourdough crumpets, the Fawk’s breakfast roll, pies and pastries. Later, drive further down Broke Road to the Hunter Valley Gardens where you can stretch your legs strolling any of its 10 themed gardens; or meander through the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company shop to discover its premium chocolates, chocolate-dipped strawberries and watermelon and more than 20 fudge flavours.
Drive further up Broke Road to one of the region’s oldest and family-owned wineries, Tyrrell’s Wines. On approach, the imposing Brokenback Mountains loom dramatically skyward in the distance. An original ironbark slab hut built in 1858 still stands on site. Book into one of its daily tastings. Semillon aficionados will love the premium, two-hour Vat 1 Semillon Vertical Experience.
Above: Dining at Brokenwood
Visit the sleek cellar door of Brokenwood Wines on McDonald’s Road for a pre-booked tasting – perhaps the deep-dive ‘Brokenwood Journey’ tour; or a more casual session in a tasting pod. Stay on for lunch at Cru Bar + Pantry, grazing on oysters or sampling a generous Barrique Cheese or Hogs Head board, designed for two.
Above: Stop for a picnic as you soak up the stunning views at Audrey Wilkinson
Ascend De Beyers Road towards Audrey Wilkinson Winery. A colonial-style homestead cellar door is perched on top of a foothill of the mountains. Enjoy your wine sitting on outdoor timber bench seats on the covered veranda, taking in the magical, 360-degree valley views – or walk down the sandstone steps, glass in hand, to wander the lawns of the stunning grounds (bring your camera or phone).
Drive down McDonald’s Road towards Usher Tinkler Wines, located in an old converted church building. Visitors sit on vintage seats and old church pews listening to music, sampling wines or tucking in to generous salumi and cheese platters.
For a four-course fine dining experience, book into award-winning Muse Restaurant at Hungerford Hill. Prepare for an artfully-presented feast that showcases the region, served within a contemporary and architecturally impressive dining room.
Left: A casual lunch at Cru Bar + Pantry; Right: An artfully-presented plate at Muse Restaurant
Mount View Road
Start with a nourishing breakfast at Café Enzo at Peppers Creek Village on Broke Road. Set yourself up for the day choosing from options such as Enzo’s big breakfast or truffle green peas, enjoyed beside a Tuscan-style courtyard.
Set your GPS to Mount View Road and take your time admiring this quieter and scenic pocket of the valley. Perhaps stop at Mount Pleasant or Briar Ridge for a wine tasting enjoyed in its garden.
Indulge in a long lunch at the scenic Bistro Molines Restaurant. Arrive to a wisteria-framed courtyard resembling a slice of Provence at this much-loved French bistro. Book an outdoor table in the sun to savour a two or three-course meal as you take in mesmerising views.
A new detour
Afterwards, strap yourself into your Avis car and drive back to Sydney via Newcastle to experience an urban and coastal contrast. And if you need to top up the tank for the journey, you can even find the closet petrol station using the Avis app.
Extend your trip to include an overnight stay – impromptu extensions of your car rental can also be easily handled with the Avis app. Arrive in ‘Newy’ in a little more than an hour just in time for an afternoon dip in the Bogey Hole – a popular swimming hole hand-cut by convicts and Australia’s oldest ocean pool on the east coast. At dusk, sip on sundowners overlooking the Pacific Ocean at the three-level Merewether Surfhouse; or dine at the iconic The Beach Hotel – you may even spot pods of dolphins while listening to live music.
In the morning, take the six-kilometre Newcastle Bathers Way walk from Merewether to Nobbys Beach, affording far-reaching coastal views from Strzelecki Lookout and Nobbys Lighthouse, passing several beach cafes and kiosks along the way.
Before cruising back to Sydney, soak up the vibrant arts scene viewing arresting outdoor sculptures; or visit Newcastle Art Gallery, featuring the largest collection of modern Japanese ceramics in the southern hemisphere. Spend your last getaway hours wandering Darby Street in Cooks Hill or Beaumont Street in Hamilton, exploring eclectic vintage shops, record stores and uber-cool bars and cafes.