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In the Hunter Valley, a region that extends inland around 150 kilometres from Newcastle, there are over 120 cellar doors where you can sample the best known product of this region.
Wine isn’t all that the region is renowned for – you’ll have to find room for scrummy local produce that ranges from figs to fudges. There are also boutique beers to be sampled, dozens of great art galleries, craft and antique stores to peruse, and wine and cooking schools to attend (to ensure that you know what to do with all the goodies you’ve picked up along the way). The Hunter also offers award-winning spas and golf retreats in which to relax and unwind after the rigours of all that sampling, or you can simply sit back and soak up the scenery: acres of undulating vines, all hemmed in by the beautiful Brokenback Range.
TOP 7 HIGHLIGHTS:
1. Cellar Door Tasting – With more than 120 wineries the local specialties of Semillon and Shiraz can be sampled in many vineyards in the cellar or enjoyed in some superb vineyard restaurants. Some wineries also offer tours – Tyrrell’s and McGuigan Wines are two favourites.
2. Hunter Valley Cooking School – This is a hands-on class, and all dishes are cooked from scratch using local organic produce. The recipes are provided to take home and the dishes cooked are eaten for either lunch or dinner – it’s a wine and food lover’s dream.
3. The Vintage Golf Club – Tee off in style at this Greg Norman designed golf course, ranked among the best in Australia and measures 6,310 metres, with a par of 71.
4. Harvest Time – Summer is a vibrant (and hot!) time of year. Spend the early mornings exploring the vineyards being harvested and the evenings at one of the many events or cooling off around the pool with a glass of crisp Hunter Valley white.
5. Hunter Valley Gardens – Ten stunning feature gardens set in over 60 acres: bask in the colour and scent of the Rose Garden where there are more than 8,000 roses on display; laze above the ten metre waterfall and take in the superb views from the lookout; or hang out with all your favourite fairytale characters in the Storybook Garden.
6. Maitland Gaol – This Gaol was closed in 1998 after housing some of Australia’s most notorious criminals for 150 years, it is now open to visitors. Take the self-guided audio tour. For extra thrills, try the torchlight tour.
7. National Parks – Surrounding the vineyards are national parks including the subtropical rainforests of Barrington Tops National Park and deep river gorges of Wollemi National Park. Spot one of several endangered plant and animal species such as the koala, broad toothed rat, quoll, yellow bellied glider or red legged pademelon.
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