Top Tips for Touring the Hunter Valley Wine Region, Australia
If you like wine and the outdoors, and you are in the New South Wales area, then there is nothing better than a holiday exploring Australia’s famed Hunter Valley. It truly is one of the most beautiful spots in the country, as the rows of grape vines line the hills gracefully, interspersed with beautiful lakes and gorges that have gentle waterfalls tucked away inside them. Unlike central or western Australia, where the scenery is relatively consistent, the Hunter Valley has a little bit of everything.
Best Natural Sightseeing Locations
The great outdoors is what draws many visitors to the region; in between wine tastings, you can partake in well-marked and mapped hikes that range from an hour to a full day. For shorter hikes and strolls, Gloucester and Dungog are small villages to start you out. If you want to spend the day outdoors, pack a picnic basket and head to the two national parks located in the valley: Barrington Tops National Park and Wollemi National Park. Barrington has some of the best hikes, while in Wollemi you will find many Aboriginal sites, from cave paintings and rock carvings.
Must See Attractions
Set your sights for Pokolbin and Cessnock if you are ready for a glass of wine; this section of the lower Hunter Valley is where many of the region’s best wineries (and most beautiful tasting rooms) are located. Because of the valleys peaks and dips, the grapes experience a variety of weather conditions, which weathers them, giving the wine a rich and complex flavour. Do not just visit the big brand names – wander a bit and try something new.
In Hunter Valley, you will not be asked to pay a tasting fee – this applies to all the neighbouring fudge shops and cheese factories too. Of course, they do appreciate if you buy something that you like.
If you want to mingle with the locals, head for the wonderful markets in the towns of Greta and Branxton. Maybe you will stumble on a festival – they are usually celebrating something most weekends. For a step back in time, the rustic and timeless cities of Wollombi or Kurri Kurri, the later with a fabulous museum, will keep you occupied for hours, making you wonder why you do not live in the valley.
Where to Stay
The region is quite friendly to campervan travellers, so you will find plenty of places to stop overnight; having said that, not all campgrounds have campervan slots, so it is best to check in advance just in case. The Barrington Tops National Park sits quite central in the valley, making it one of the best spots to base your trip. A couple of recommendations in the park:
- Gloucester River Campground: A wide open, natural spot perfect for camping. The facilities include picnic tables and barbeques, long drop (non-flushing) toilets, and excellent hiking trail access. Fees per person, per night, apply.
- Horse Swamp Campground: Located at a higher elevation, Horse Swamp takes a bit more effort to reach, but it is worth it for the jaw-dropping stargazing after dark. Long drop toilets and picnic tables are available on site. The trail is not suitable for campervans in heavy rains, so be mindful. Fees per person, per night, apply.