Maitland Town Hall
Mare & Foal sculpture - Scone

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THE HUNTER VALLEY

The Hunter Valley is a region north east of Sydney including the towns of Scone, Muswellbrook, Singleton, Cessnock, Maitland and Newcastle. From Sydney it is reached by either the Freeway to Newcastle and then along the New England Highway, or by taking the "Putty Rd", Highway 69 from Sydney through Windsor and over Howe's Mountain to Singleton.
It stretches from the Goulburn River and Wollemi National Park to the South right upto Barrington Tops National Park to the North and is best described as having two distinct parts, the Lower Hunter and the Upper Hunter.
The Lower Hunter begins just beyond Newcastle at Raymond Terrace and extends north-west to Singleton. It includes the coastal towns of Anna Bay and Nelson Bay.
The majority of the vineyards will be found in the Lower Hunter mainly around Pokolbin, west of Cessnock, with some 50 wineries in the area with most open for wine tasting and cellar door sales. The Lower Hunter comprises 5 main areas; the Wollombi Valley area to the South west, the Mount View area just north of this, the Cessnock area to the south east, leading into the Pokolbin and Rothbury area in the North west and the Lovedale and North Rothbury area in the north east.

The Wonnarua ("people of the hills and plains") inhabited the Hunter Valley when Europeans arrived. The first sighting of the Hunter River by European settlers was in 1797, when it was discovered by Lieutenant John Shortland during a search for escaped convicts. It soon became a source of timber and coal for steamships that provided much of the transport for Sydney and its surroundings and plied the coast north and south.
The area was settled by the Scots in the decade of the 1820s when a system of free land grants was in operation, one condition being the improvement of the grants. Most turned to agriculture, and in particular, vineyards. Today the Hunter Valley is recognised as among the finest producers of wines in Australia with dozens of wineries in the region.
There are many places to visit in the Hunter Valley.

Follow these links for individual information on towns:

Hunter Valley Gardens
The numerous towns around the Lower Hunter all offer something different and unique to the visitor. Branxton and Greta are popular for their markets and festivals. Cessnock has a range of accommodation as well as modern shopping areas, set amongst its heritage buildings and craft shops. Kurri Kurri hosts several heritage country pubs as well as a mining museum. It is also popular for a mixture of sports including bowls, golf, squash and tennis.
The rural community of Wollombi still lives in the 1930's, the time in which it was settled. You can wander along taking in the historic atmosphere, go horse riding, or even explore the nearby bushland. For wonderful views of the Brokenback Range head to Broke, or for museums and antique shops go to the old river port of Morpeth.
Denman is a good base from which to explore the Upper Hunter, as are nearby Singleton and Muswellbrook. A selection of accommodation can be found around Denman, as well as a rather unique information centre situated in the Old Carriage Restaurant, which is actually inside an old train carriage.
Muswellbrook
Muswellbrook is an historic town hosting a range of interesting historic buildings. Singleton is also an historic town, founded in 1820, and one of the earliest to be founded in New South Wales. Singleton is a coaling town, with a museum telling its history from within the old jail.

Scone
If you are interested in horses and horse racing then Scone is a place you must definitely visit. Scone is the thoroughbred horse breeding centre in the Upper Hunter, although you will also find horse breeding to be popular throughout the Upper hunter.
There is a range of accommodation and a number of restaurants in Scone, although the main attraction is the race course. There are numerous races throughout the year so you should be able to watch one whatever time you visit.


PLACES OF INTEREST:
There are too many wineries in the Hunter Valley to list here. Use the search engine below.
  • Wineries (Over 100 wineries in the Hunter Valley Region)
  • Hunter Valley Chocolate Company - Pokolbin and Lovedale
    Established over ten years ago the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company & Fudge Factory is one of the premier attractions in the area. Recent expansion includes a boutique factory and chocolate making facility at Lovedale where visitors can see Peter the chocolatier and Lorraine the fudge maker preparing the range of chocolates and fudge for the stores using only the finest Belgian couverture chocolate, with Australian dried fruits and nuts.
    Visit any of our 3 Hunter Valley locations for the ultimate chocolate experience.
    Open 7 days 9am - 5pm and closed Christmas Day
  • Lars Knudsen Gallery - Millfield
  • Ogishi Craft Centre - Rothbury
    Setsuko Ogishi's glass is well known by Australian art glass lovers. Setsuko has been working with glass for over twenty years, exhibiting throughout Australia (including Parliament House in Canberra) and internationally.
  • Hunter Valley Cheese Factory - Pokolbin
    The Hunter Valley Cheese range is preservative free and manufactured on site to traditional cheesemaking recipes. Visit the preserves room and discover the world of fine Hunter Valley produce and many other gourmet delights.
    The Hunter Valley Cheese Company is the perfect place to source your ingredients for a mouthwatering Wine Country Picnic. If time is an issue give us a little notice and we'll pack your picnic ready to go.
    Open 7 days, 9am to 5:30pm.
    McGuigans Complex, McDonalds Road, Pokolbin, 2320
    Tel: (02) 4998-7744
    E-mail: huntervalleycheese@westnet.com.au

  • Barrington Tops National Park
    Barrington Tops is part of the Mount Royal Range, a spur of the Great Dividing Range and is a plateau between two of the large peaks in the range. The park is believed to be an extinct volcano and the mountain ranges are made up of a mixture of sedimentary rocks with a granite top. Erosion has weathered the granite and rounded, granite boulders can be seen in some areas of the park. Estimates put the age of the rock at 300 to 400 million years, well before Australia separated from Gondwana.
    In 1969 the area between Mount Barrington, Mount Royal and the Gloucester Tops was declared the Barrington Tops National Park. In 1982 it was listed as a World Heritage Area and subsequently a Wilderness Area. Some of the rivers flowing through the Barrington range have been classed as wild rivers meaning they are exceptionally pure and unpolluted.
    The highest peak is Brumlow Top which rises to a height of 1,586 metres (5,203 ft).
    The park is a popular weekend destination with numerous walking trails and campgrounds scattered throughout the park. There are well marked and maintained gravel roads as and specific 4WD tracks into less travelled areas. General sightseeing can be easily achieved in a non-offroad vehicle.
    The park is maintained by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and rangers patrol the park daily.

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ACCOMMODATION & SERVICES:

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INFORMATION CENTRES:
Hunter Valley Wine Country Visitor Centre

Main Rd. Pokolbin. NSW 2320
Ph: 02 4990 4477

Maitland Visitor Information Centre
Cnr. High St & New England Hwy. Maitland. NSW 2320
Ph: 1300 652 320

HOW TO GET THERE:
  • By car along the New England Hwy.
  • Air Services Qantaslink 131 313
    Coastal Air Services 1800 262 782
    Freedom Airlines 1800 122 000

  • Coach Services Greyhound Pioneer 132 030
    McCafferty's 131 499
    Rover Coaches (02) 4990 1699
    Kean's Travel Service (02) 4990 5000

  • Rail Services Countrylink 132 232
    CityRail 131 500

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