The northern gateway to the Hunter Valley vineyards, Branxton is a small town at the junction of the New England Highway and the freeway to Cessnock.
This is real wine country, and Branxton is literally surrounded by vineyards and wineries. Indeed, a family property, Kirkton, 11km from Branxton, was the cradle of the Hunter wine industry.
It was at Kirkton that more than 300 vines, personally collected by James Busby during a study tour of European vineyards, were planted in the early 1830s. From that historic planting, the multi million-dollar Hunter wine industry developed.
Sadly, Busby, who also wrote several books on winemaking, did not stay around to develop the family vineyard. In 1834 he was appointed Government Resident in New Zealand where he negotiated the Waitangi Treaty on behalf of the British Government.
There are classy resorts, quaint B & Bs, farm stays and motels of all makes and sizes to cater to the vacationer who comes up this way to sample the wines, dine at one of the many fine restaurants spread throughout the area or cast an eye over the thoroughbreds for which the Hunter Valley is equally famous worldwide.
Continue west along the New England Highway for 22km and you’ll reach Singleton - a pleasant town on the Hunter River that is the geographic and commercial centre of the Hunter Valley.