|Hunter Valley Interlude|
Just a couple of hours north of Sydney, the broad, fertile Hunter Valley is Australiaís oldest wine producing region and the perfect destination for lovers of fine food and wines, country air, and historic towns and villages.
Leave Sydney on the Pacific Highway (Highway 1) and continue north on the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway (F3) until you reach the Cessnock turnoff. Aside from the Visitor Information Centre, Cessnock isnít particularly interesting, so follow the signs to Pokolbin and the heart of the Lower Hunter Valley wine region.
There are over 50 wineries here, and most are open to the public for tastings each day: youíll find some of Australiaís best-known labels including Rothbury Estate, Lindemans, McWilliams and Wyndham Estate and a marvellous range of fine reds, whites and sparkling wines. There are several ways to get around, including by bicycle and romantic horse-drawn carriage.
Thereís more to the Hunter Valley than wines, however. You can sample gourmet cheeses, play aqua golf, there are plenty of antique and craft shops, and the area has some outstanding cafes and restaurants. The Lower Hunter also offers a great range of activities try horse riding, golf, or even tandem skydiving!
Donít miss a visit to Maitland, a few kilometres northeast of Pokolbin. Dating back to the 1820s, this heritage city is full of National Trust listed buildings, which you can admire on the self-guided heritage walk. Nearby Morpeth, a riverside village that has changed little since the 1850s is another historic gem.
The best option for your return to Sydney is to travel via the charming old settlement of Wollombi, where youíll find two 1840s churches, antiques and crafts, an interesting local museum, and a general store from a very different era.
Where to Stay
Time required: 2 days minimum