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Pokolbin  New South Wales

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Cessnock may be the shopping centre of the Lower Hunter Valley, but for wine and food the Pokolbin district is taste central. The town is situated 150 km to the north of Sydney, and 60 km inland from the Pacific coast. From Cessnock it is about a 10 minute drive along Allandale Road to the beginning of Broke Road, Pokolbin's main road.

The growth of the region has been in line with the success of the Australian wine industry. Grapes were planted in the Hunter Valley in the 1820s. Wine has been produced since the mid-1800s, though for a long time it was the sleeper of the local alcohol market. As Australians began to drink more wine in the 1970s, and as our wine reached a wider market overseas, areas such as the Hunter Valley have undergone remarkable growth.

As you drive along Broke Road you'll notice vineyards, wineries and restaurants lining the road, with signage on the side roads listing those companies off the main road. About 5 km along you come to McDonalds Road, the main cross street, and it is in this part of Pokolbin that could be called the town's centre. Many wineries are within walking distance of this point, plus several accommodation properties, general stores, restaurants and even a pub. As you continue on Broke Road past McDonalds Road there are still more wineries, and again the off-main road companies are signposted at the junction with Broke Road. Hermitage Road, Deaseys Road and Mistletoe Lane are three such roads with a strong concentration of wineries, while heading along McDonalds Road will also find you many places to visit, taste and buy wines, plus there are restaurants, galleries, accommodation and more. Wine tasting and cellar door sales opportunities are numerous, though some of the boutique vineyards are only open on the weekends. Some of the larger wineries run tours of their operations.

The Pokolbin area hosts many events throughout the year. The main event each March and April is the Hunter Valley Harvest Festival, with music concerts, art exhibitions, street parties, barrel tastings, gourmet feasts and more. October is a musical month, with Opera in the Vineyards at the Wyndham Estate and Jazz in the Vines at the Tyrells Long Flat Paddock. In September and October there are activities associated with budburst, the Spring flowering of the grapes, the main one being a street parade in Cessnock.

Golfers will love the area, with courses ranging from link-style courses to resort-style. Two of the more spectacular courses are the Cypress Lakes Golf and Country Club and the new Greg Norman-designed The Vintage. Not far behind in impressiveness is the Hunter Valley Golf and Country Club. In Cessnock is The Oaks Golf and Country Club, and north of Cessnock is the Branxton Golf Club. These courses are all within a 20 minute drive of each other.

An excellent starting point for exploration of the area is the Visitor Information Centre, on Allandale Road near the start of Broke Road. In addition to information the centre also houses the Hunter Valley Wine Society, the Wine Country Cafe and a wine interpretive centre.

Find out more about the Hunter Valley.


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