How did you celebrate Christmas? It sure was a confusing time with borders opening and closing and many Christmas travel plans in tatters due to COVID restrictions. Some families spent Christmas apart while others held their first virtual Christmas.

With this in mind, we thought we would travel local in this edition, and take you to the charming Hunter Valley of NSW, known for it’s fine wines and fabulous produce. With all the recent heavy rain of the past few months, the Hunter is awash with greenery, a far cry from the dry barrenness from years of drought.

Whether you’re visiting for a day or a month, there is so much to experience in the Hunter Valley. From world class vineyards and restaurants, to once in a lifetime experiences and world class entertainment, you can sit back and relax in one of nature’s most beautiful playgrounds.

Below are our top activities. But remember, with COVID-19 restrictions, bookings are essential. So, remember to book ahead, not just for accommodation, but for all your tastings, restaurants and activities, to ensure you don’t miss out!

Hunter Valley Gardens

Set in the heart of Pokolbin, Hunter Valley Gardens has established itself as a popular tourist attraction, complementing Australia’s oldest wine producing region.Hunter Valley Gardens is set on 225 hectares, with the main attractions being the 60 acres of international display gardens and the majestic 10-metre-high waterfall which is a popular location for special ceremonies.

Discover the international display gardens incorporating 10 amazingly themed gardens with influences from around the world. Over 8km of pathways, more than 100 kilometres of underground irrigation, 6000 trees, 600 000 shrubs and 1 000 000 ground covers have been planted and nurtured to create a legacy for generations to come – an exciting experience of sight, colour and fragrance to delight visitors of all ages and nationalities!

The Gardens are owned and operated by Roche Group Pty Ltd, a wholly Australian owned Company. Bill and Imelda Roche, purchased the property in 1997, developed it over the subsequent five years and it opened in October 2003. They have invested over $80M to create a unique and popular attraction with award winning accommodation just to top it off.

Located adjacently and also owned by the Roche Group, is the boutique Pokolbin shopping village, picnic ground, BBQ area and village green. The village is is home to an intimate series of boutique retailers and outlets promoting the best of local produce, artistic talent, contemporary café dining and of course, cellar door wine tasting.

Also on site are the 4½ star Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens, Roche wines and the well-renowned Harrigans Irish Pub with 4 star accommodation.

The village square overlooks the beautiful Chapel holding many weddings each week and regular non-denominational services of worship.

A visit to Harrigans Pub is a must do when in the Hunter just to try their lunchtime special!

From Monday’s through to Friday’s enjoy a $12 lunch special!

Chose from:

  • Rump with chips and salad
  • Chick Schnitzel with chips and salad
  • Whiting Fillets with chips and salad

And don’t forget Harrigans FREE LIVE MUSIC FRIDAY TO SUNDAY!

Hunter Valley Wine Tours

The Hunter Valley Wine Tours are famous for a reason. The Hunter Valley is NSW premier wine region and a visit to the area is not complete without a tour of the amazing array of vineyards.

Whether you like to DIY, take advantage of a custom tour package or let the wine come to you, there are options to suit all styles.

The Hunter not only produces great wines, it also produces award-winning boutique and craft beers and ciders. With a wide range of Hunter brewery tours available, you can visit some of the region’s nearby wineries and breweries, sample the different flavours and learn about the art of brewing.

Hunter Valley Zoo

We ‘moustache’ you if you’ve been to Hunter Valley Zoo?

Hunter Valley Zoo is a privately run zoo located in the heart of the Hunter Valley. Native and exotic animals such as monkeys, alligators, dingoes, Tassie devils, wombats, koalas, kangaroos, reptiles, birds and LIONS all call this place HOME!

On a visit, you can feed kangaroos, wallabies, birds and farmyard animals in the interactive walk-through yards. The paths around the zoo are dirt and grass but still accessible for wheelchairs. 

You can book an animal encounter with a Black and White Ruffed Lemur, Meerkat, Marmoset, Emperor Tamarin Binturong or Squirrel Monkey. You can pat a baby wombat and spend some ‘koala-ity’ time with the koalas and take a koala photo home to look back on and remember your time at Hunter Valley Zoo.

The Hunter Valley Zoo is open Thursday to Tuesday 9am-4pm and is located in the Heart of the Valley on Lomas Lane, Nulkaba which is only 5 minutes from Cessnock.

Cheese, Chocolate & Local Produce

The Hunter Valley abounds with locally produced gourmet foods that will tempt any palate. Fresh produce is ripe for the picking throughout the seasons. Olives & Olive Oils and handmade fresh and soft rind cheeses make for a wonderful picnic. Condiments, sauces and jams will remind you of your time in the Hunter Valley, and homemade gelato and chocolates are sure to sweeten your day.

With more than 150 wineries, restaurants aplenty, sweeping landscapes and mobs of kangaroos all within a two-hour drive north of Sydney, the Hunter is a great place to getaway and recharge your batteries.

And better still, there are no BORDERS to contend with!

If you would like to visit The Hunter, but need assistance, ask us how. We offer transportation options and companionship services, so just speak to your Co-ordinator and find out how we can make the magic happen!

Stay tuned for the next edition of ArmChair Travel, as we expand beyond the borders, now they are open!