Heart of the Hunter
Australia's original wine country has never had more to offer food and wine lovers from around the world looking for a first-class weekend away.
View Hunter Valley Winery Offers
Situated less than two hours' drive from Sydney, the Hunter Valley represents a weekend getaway or daytripper destination like few others in New South Wales.
Despite its history as the birthplace of Australian wine, its fortunes as a tourist destination have waxed and waned over the decades, but today the region is positively humming with energy – more assured than ever in what it has to offer, and ready to welcome food and wine lovers the world over to its world class hotels, activities, restaurants and cellar door experiences. Here are some sensational places to explore if you're new to what the Hunter Valley has in store.
Take to the skies with Beyond Ballooning
The scenic views overlooking Cypress Lakes
A Place to Rest
The Hunter Valley's status as an accommodation destination has gone from strength to strength.
Spicers Guesthouse, a 5-star resort located in Pokolbin, the heart of the Hunter, has been welcoming travellers for over 35 years. Now, following an extensive revitalisation, this centrally located, elegantly appointed venue offers more than ever with 49 rooms amidst 40 acres of picturesque countryside.
Château Élan impresses with its first-class golfing range and wealth of accommodation options, including a series of private villas, many with balconies or terraces overlooking the Vintage fairways and vales of the Hunter. Another destination for golfing adherents is Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort, a 300-acre retreat offering a range of villas nestled on a tree-studded rise offering views over the on-premises country club and golf course.
The nearby Mercure Hunter Valley Gardens is all about relaxed luxury, a 4-star hotel central to all the region's major drawcards, with its own range of specialty boutique shops at which to sample some of the region's best produce.
Meanwhile, in the neighbouring Broke region, Winmark – situated on the former Pooles Rock estate – has transformed this iconic Hunter site into an art lover's paradise, with sculpture gardens and an on-site art gallery alongside four unique residences offering the ultimate in escapist luxury with access to private tennis courts, gardens and pools. Also in Broke you'll find a range of guesthomes and estates offering accommodation from the intimate and rustic to the luxury ends of the spectrum, from Carinya Homestead to the award-winning Mio Monte – whatever your budget, no matter your itinerary, the Hunter has a place for you to rest your head in style and comfort.
A view of the vines with Aero Logistics
A taste of the Hunter with Mike De Iuliis
While most famous for its wineries, the Hunter Valley has no shortage of things to do beyond enjoying its premium wines.
A year-round drawcard is the Hunter Valley Gardens. Designed by Bill and Imelda Roche and first opened in 2003, this enchanting fixture features 8km of walking paths winding through 10 individual gardens featuring statues and murals, amidst over a million ground plants and 6,000 trees. Each year, the gardens are transformed variously into a home for Mega Creatures dinosaur displays in school holidays, and a Christmas lights wonderland at year's end, drawing countless locals and tourists alike to partake in the spectacle.
Another big draw for families is the Hunter Valley Zoo. Located in Nulkaba along the eastern side of Wine Country Road north of Cessnock, this dedicated wildlife park lets you get up close and personal with everything from marmosets to meerkats and monkeys, and is open year-round except for Christmas Day.
Perhaps the best way to take in the Hunter Valley in all its glory however is via the air, and there's no shortage of options for the brave of heart in this regard. From the award-winning experience offered by Beyond Ballooning to the high altitude adventurism of Hunter Valley Scenic Flights or Aero Logisitics, you'll be on Cloud Nine. On your return to earth, make sure to stop by one of the many gourmet providores or producers like Binnore Diary to fill your belly and refuel.
Brokenwood's tasting room
Making new friends at Hunter Valley Zoo
Unwind Over Food and Wine
It almost goes without saying that food and wine lovers are spoilt for choice when passing through the Hunter Valley. Here can be found some of Australia's most iconic wineries, scattered throughout the gently undulating landscapes of this historic region – of which the following is but a small taste.
Why not begin your tasting adventure at some of the Hunter's oldest, most esteemed names, with a stop by Tyrrell's Wines or Tulloch? Or, take in the sumptuously refurbished cellar door of the iconic Mount Pleasant winery, where winemaker Adrian Sparks continues to build on the incredible legacy of Maurice O'Shea with some of the finest Shiraz and Semillon to be found in the country.
Plated perfection at Muse
For more modern icons, a visit to De Iuliis quickly reveals why it's recently been awarded the 2022 Hunter Valley Cellar Door of the Year. Similarly, Thomas Wines offers up tastings dedicated to the signature regional varieties of Shiraz and Semillon, as well as curated tastings of more than a dozen wines from its entire range of single vineyard wines.
When it comes to food, few regions satisfy a diversity of appetites like the Hunter, which is experiencing a fine dining renaissance. At Bistro Molines, you'd swear you were in the south of France with its Provence-inspired offerings, while in Broke the degustation menu at Margan will have gourmands believing they've died and gone to heaven, thanks to the work of Joey Ingram (formerly of Tetsuya's Sydney). Newly opened Sebastian Restaurant in Spicer's Tower Lodge also impresses, with a Basque-inspired menu by Gianni Moretto, as does Muse.
All this is only scratching the surface. You'll want to return again and again, with something different to discover on each occasion – from boutique wineries to family adventures and some of the finest, freshest produce available on the eastern coast. Old is new again. Come home to the Hunter.
Explore the Hunter Valley
Stay at the Spicer's Guesthouse