Hunter Valley provides the perfect escape for solo travelers through to big groups of mates who just want a time out and a new experience. This place offers wine tasting tours, outstanding views and pure country fresh air – bliss. Whether you are a smaller group of mates, a solo traveler, or a mass of working holiday makers; there’s accommodation to suit everyone.
The Valley is more of a tourist attraction than people realize, attracting over 2.5 million visitors every year – it’s Australia’s 6th most visited attraction. There is an obvious charm to the Hunter Valley, yet only a subtle tourist feeling and so it still feels untouched. Pokolbin is at the center of the Hunter Valley Wine Country, and a great base for exploring the many wineries that Hunter Valley has to offer. Pokolbin is where all the main accommodation is based and is approximately two hours drive north of Sydney. From Hunter Valley, you can also visit the closest National Park to Sydney, Barrington Tops, which is like venturing into another world. You can take a week to seek out the most beautiful parts of the surrounding World Heritage sights and hidden beauties or just pop on a coach trip and do the wineries in one swift trip!
Sleeping In The Valley
To have the best experience whilst out in Hunter Valley, it’s best to book yourself a huge villa, grab as many mates as you can to lower the price and fight over who gets first dibs on the hot tub! At first glance, it may look like it’s going to cost a fortune but for $100 each a night, you can get a country house such as the ‘Maranda House’ on www.stayz.com.au, with barbeques, hot tubs and a saltwater swimming pool as standard. If you visit other websites such as takeabreak.com, you can get 5-person villas for around $80 each a night. There are similar hotels such as Potters Hotel, which work out not much more than the price of the YHA at $124 a night for a two-person room including a meal, so this is also worth looking into.
The Hunter Valley YHA is a great setup if there are large groups of you as they have rooms that house up to 16 people. If not then of course you just rent your half of a bunk. There is a pub with pool tables and pub grub just down the road and then of course, more of a nightlife in the town Cessnock nearby. There are free pick-ups and drop-offs for all YHA-ers on arrival etc. What more could you want than barbeques, a swimming pool and a sauna? Most accommodation requires you to book a two-night minimum stay, so do make sure you question this before you go if this may be a problem. Per night the hostel is around $60 but has really great reviews and is more expensive as it is surrounded by pure beauty and is very different from your usual city hostel. It will be a whole new experience sleeping in Hunter Valley as you can experience its popular wineries on a more personal basis.
There are too many wineries to ever really be able to get around in a day when visiting Hunter Valley. However, we’re sure you’ll give it a good go! There are tour companies aplenty to suit the masses of wineries to visit. Some wineries are open every day of the week, all day long, all year round. However, some of the smaller ones may shut on Sundays and before 6 pm so do check before you visit if you are traveling independently. Obviously, the way to do it in style is to travel as a group with a tour company as no one wants to be designated sober chauffeur when it comes to this kind of wine tasting game. Visit www.huntervalleywinetastingtours.com.au to seek out the best deal, for $75 you will be picked up from the valley and taken to the best wineries around. You will visit at least five wineries of all shapes and sizes, tasting around eight different wines at each. Also, you will be taken in your luxury Mercedes bus to the smelly cheese and chocolate shops.
If you can’t be away from Sydney too long or you can’t budget for the accommodation etc. out in the Valley, Kangarrific tours provide you with a day tour from Sydney to the wineries for some wine tasting sessions and some meet and greet with friendly kangaroos, koalas and emus! All for $99 https://www.kangarrifictours.com/tours/hunter-valley-wine-tours/
For a little more cash, AAT King also does day tours from Sydney for around $145 with a touch more luxury. The hostels or accommodation you wish to stay in will be more than happy to organize a tour for you direct from your base.
Make It A Break To Remember
For all of you extremists out there, or for those of you who just want a break with a twist, sky diving over the valley is the answer. What better way than to fall from the sky from 14,000 feet and capture views of the beautiful vineyards, Hunter River, sprawling National Parks and Central Coast including the beautiful Great Lakes and Lake Macquarie. Just make sure you do the wine tasting before you decide to go up on the plane. Visit www.justjumpskydive.com.au to plan the ride of your life.
If you have always wanted a round of golf, but never had the confidence to venture onto the greens or you feel like you’ve done the average course and want to play somewhere outstanding- the Hunter Valley 4 hour round of golf is for you. You will be taught by a golf professional and then given your own buggy to play across the course. It isn’t cheap – at $400 for you and a friend- but there’s not going to be many opportunities in a lifetime to play somewhere like this. Check it out at www.winecountry.com.au/things-to-see-do. Here you will find more information on ‘Opera in the Vineyards’ among other great ideas for your time in the beautiful Hunter Valley.
If you are truly golf mad, you can even book the golf package deal which gets you two nights accommodation at Potters brewery, three rounds of golf, and two breakfast buffets galore for $400.
Whilst you are on the East Coast, you will most certainly want your adventures to continue and there is plenty in the way of the East Coast Australia Tour which offers plenty in Sydney and further North or South. As you head North Fraser Island 4WD Tours is a must, and also the endless excitement on all of the Fraser Island Adventure Tours.
If you are headed South then Kangaroo Island Backpacker Tours is a guaranteed tranquil experience, from there you may wish to make it West and hit up the best of Perth to Broome Adventure Tours. Ultimately, Australia is your ouster, but of course, if you can’t get enough of good wine, then definitely find yourself Adelaide to Perth Tours, one of Australia’s most famous wine regions.
Hunter Valley is a greatly sought-after time out from the typical ‘Australian tourist’ list of things to do. Sure it is perfect for tourists and is made to measure for coach trips and backpackers/working holidaymakers alike. However, it is a truly ‘rural’ experience where you can learn to brew your own beer, pick your own wine grapes and taste the greatest wines of the world until the cows come home. BBM gives the valley a big thumbs up. Just sneak in a cheeky skydive and other great Hunter Valley activities available while you’re there to really take it to the next level of wonderfulness.
By Frankie Salt