A few years ago, I was in love with wine. I still am. I enjoy the way wine tastes, smells and the way it is made. So, when I shifted to Sydney, I realised that Hunter Region was so close to Sydney that one could just go for a day and return with lots of different wine bottles that can last for months, I was elated.
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About Hunter Region
The Hunter Region, also known as Hunter Valley, is one of the major wine regions in Australia. Known for its many wineries and shiraz wines, the Hunter Valley is in the state of New South Wales (NSW). The Hunter Region has mainly four cities, Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, Maitland and Cessnock and other centres include Kurri Kurri, Singleton, Scone, Dungog, Gloucester, Muswellbrook and Reymond Terrace.
The best time to visit Hunter Valley is during the summer season (between the months of December and February). The summer season is the harvesting season.
How to get to Hunter Valley?
- Driving – The Hunter Valley is about 170 kilometres from Sydney and takes close to 2 hours by car. The easiest way to reach the Hunter Valley is by driving.
- The route has toll roads.
- Public Transportation – There are train routes that connect Sydney and the Hunter Valley. One needs to take a Newcastle train line from Sydney Central train station to Newcastle train station. And then change the train at Newcastle train station to the Hunter Valley towns (Maitland and Singleton).
- Up-to-date information on train timings and routes can be found on the Transport of NSW website.
Hunter Valley wine tasting tours
It is estimated that the Hunter Valley has more than 150 wineries. The region is famous for the different kinds of wines that are made from a variety of grapes, most famous being the Shiraz.
Many tour agencies organise one day trips from Sydney. The best and cheapest way to find a tour agency is by finding a deal on Groupon website. The tour agencies take the visitors to say 4 to 5 wineries throughout the day where the wineries provide a brief overview of the wines produced at the winery and immerse the wine drinkers into a wine tasting experience. Usually, wine drinkers are provided with at least 3 or 4 best wines that the winery produces.
- I have taken the one day wine tours many a times with different tour agencies. I have had good experiences with everyone and has never had any issues.
- One day tours with wine tasting costs around AUD 69 to AUD 119 depending on the deal.
Things to do if you do not drink wine
Would you believe if I said there are things to do in the Hunter Valley even if you do not drink alcohol? Yes, the good news is there are plenty of things one can do even if you are not a wine drinker.
Picnic at Hunter Valley Gardens
The Hunter Valley Gardens is an amazing place to hang out on a beautiful sunny afternoon. A picnic at the Hunter Valley Gardens is an amazing way to spend an afternoon where one can have a beautiful lunch listening to live music. There are also many restaurants and cafes in the area.
- There are many other things to do in the Hunter Valley Gardens. Its a complex with woolen and Christmas shopping, restaurants, cafes and sit outs.
- The gardens have public toilet facilities.
- There are plenty of public free parking in the complex.
Ride the Hot air balloon
Riding the hot air balloon is rated as one of the best experiences in NSW. Watching the sunrise over the Hunter Region is definitely a dreamy experience one can do.
- The sunrise flights depart everyday.
- The best way to book the experience is either on Adrenaline or Red balloon websites.
- Hot air balloon activity happens in the Lovedale NSW.
Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to take the hot air balloon over the Hunter Region.
See the Horses at Glenworth Valley
The Glenworth Valley sits as a gateway to the Hunter Valley region. The place is owned by Lawler family and it spans for around 3000 acres of land. The Glenworth Valley is just about 50 kilometres from Sydney and has a horse farm. It is one of the most magical places I have seen with so many horses around.
I do not believe in riding horses so I have not tried horse riding at Glenworth Valley.
There are many cute shops that sell souvenirs, clothes and many pretty things. So, it is a great place to shop for local products.
Chocolate and Cheese tasting
There are many shops and factories that sell chocolates and cheese in the Hunter Valley. The best combination with wine is always chocolates, so you do get best home made chocolates. And there are different kinds of chocolates.
Visit Barrington Wilderness Cedar Lodge
Barrington wilderness cedar lodge is located in the Barrington Tops national park of New South Wales in Australia. The Barrington Tops National Park is a protected area in the Hunter Region and is about 3 hours drive from Sydney. As the name suggests, staying at Barrington wilderness cedar lodge was truly staying in the midst of the wilderness. It had creeks, forests, colourful birds and the wallabies.
There are many walks in the Barrington Tops National Park. The Gondwana Rainforests of the Barrington Tops National Park is the World Heritage listed site.
How to book?
There are 3 ways to book the lodge:
- Online on their website – This requires minimum number of nights stay, as we were staying for 2 nights we booked through the phone.
- Phone – Call Tony Skimmings at 0413264314
- Email: email@example.com
The up to date prices can be found on their website. We stayed in a duplex cottage, that costed us approximately AUD 350 for 5 people.
Safety for solo female travelers
The Hunter Valley is very safe for solo female travelers. I have been a few times alone and have never had any issues whatsoever. However, be cautious and know your surroundings, especially at nights.
Even though I do not drink wines now, I still love visiting the Hunter Valley and seeing the wineries. The wineries and the landscapes are extremely beautiful and provide a great background for photographs. One must surely visit the Hunter Valley when visiting Sydney.