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The Hunter Valley
Only 165 kilometres north of Sydney lies the Hunter Valley, a rich ground for historians, nature lovers, leisure seekers and those looking for a busy, productive centre outside the Sydney metropolis.
The Hunter region is made up of seven Places To Go representative of the main features of the region: Newcastle, Maitland, Hunter Valley Wine Country, The Upper Hunter, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens and Barrington Tops.
source:Hunter Tourism Newcastle, with a population of 131,000, is New South Wales’ second biggest city. First settled in 1801 by a party sent by Governor King to mine the coal seam discovered there by escaped convicts, the area developed slowly. Parties of convicts were sent there in further punishment to work the government mines, or as loggers. Private companies eventually got access to coal deposits in the area and the population by the end of the century was around 50,000.
source:Hunter Tourism In 1911 BHP opened a steelworks, and with the export of coal, steel and agricultural products, harbour operations and shipbuilding flourished. Today you can still see smoke stacks, industrial expanses, and out to sea, lines of cargo ships waiting to enter the port. While Newcastle’s heavy industry is now in decline, tourism, education and the arts are becoming increasingly important. The avant garde Newcastle Fringe Festival, for example, is gaining a reputation for bringing together artists, poets, filmmakers and audiences each September. The city also has its share of restaurants, galleries and fine suburban beaches.
About 30 kilometres from Newcastle, Maitland and nearby Morpeth attract the visitor with fine buildings and historic homes. Convict cedar-getters arrived in the area as early as 1818, clearing the way for coal miners and pastoralists. Produce was sent down the Hunter from the port at Morpeth. Historic homes and buildings in area include Aberglasslyn (1840-42), Lochinvar (1820s) and buildings on the National Trust Conservation Area of High Street. Annual Heritage Month celebrations are held in April.
Between Maitland and Cessnock lies the winemaking area of the Lower Hunter around Pokolbin and Broke. Generally open for tastings and cellar door sales, and often set in attractive grounds with pleasant restaurants, wineries include Tyrrell’s, Wyndham Estate, Hungerford Hill, Rothvale and many more. For an added charm, Opera in the Vines at Wyndham Estate is held each October, or perhaps hot-air ballooning over expanses of vineyards is more your sort of thing.
source:Hunter Tourism Continuing north-west along the New England Highway from Maitland you reach the Upper Hunter region, through Muswellbrook and Scone to Murrurundi. Stretching west to Merriwa, the Upper Hunter is famous for its equine industry, evidenced in the Scone Horse Festival in May. To catch a glimpse of the local squattocracy, you could watch one of the local polo matches held throughout the area from March to October. More wineries are located here, including Arrowfield and Rosemount Estate.
The three other Places To Go of the Hunter are true leisure centres. Lake Macquarie, the largest saltwater lake in Australia, is set amid beaches, rainforest and quaint coastal townships, with the backdrop of the Watagan Mountains. Here visitors can fish, waterski, windsurf, bushwalk or simply relax.
At Port Stephens, just north of Newcastle, the emphasis is likewise on sun, surf and sand. Visitors might choose to take a boat cruise out amongst the resident bottlenose dolphins or sandboard on a four-wheel drive tour of the Stockton Sand Dunes.
To really get away from it, the World Heritage-listed Barrington Tops lie about 100 kilometres north-east of Maitland.
source:Hunter Tourism Part of the catchment for the Hunter, the rugged landscape, thick forests and at times bracing temperatures draw those who appreciate the grandeur of nature. Visitors can explore the ranges on daytrips from the surrounding townships, try out the bushwalking tracks or take guided four-wheel drive tours. Alternatively they might appreciate the rugged terrain and glorious wildlife over a longer camping trip.

Accommodation in the Hunter Valley

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