The Hunter Valley's Local Secrets & Hidden Gems
Shh... here are the best local secrets and hidden gems to keep in mind when planning your next trip to the Hunter Valley.
The Hunter Valley is a beloved weekend getaway destination. With local artisans galore, gourmet restaurants, natural beauty and, of course, wine it's no wonder that the Hunter Valley is such a popular holiday destination for Aussies. The Hunter Valley should undoubtedly be on your bucket list of New South Wales holiday destinations.
If you're looking to avoid tourist traps on your next trip, then check out our list of hidden gems and local secrets to explore on your next Hunter Valley getaway.
Hunter Valley Hidden Gems: Homegrown Produce
Producing delicious cheese products from the milk of their beautiful Brown Swiss Cows, Hunter Belle Cheese, is the crown jewel of the Hunter Valley cheese scene. With their Hunter Belle Café you can sample all sorts of beautiful products and in their viewing rooms you can get a first hand glimpse into the cheesemaking and maturation process.
De Iuliis Wines, 1616 Broke Road
Greek passion and heritage meets the beauty of the Hunter Valley. Established in 1985, the olive groves produce olives and oil with a unique fruity, aromatic, and distinctive peppery flavour. Wander through the groves and take in the unique European feel and, if you’re in the mood to learn more about olives, you can book a tasting to try the olives and olive oil first-hand.
166 Hill Street, Broke
Growing an abundance of seasonal produce, this is the perfect place to pick up a range of home-grown, country-fresh fruit and vegetables. At Tinklers Gourmet Produce, think grapes, peaches, avocados, figs as well as a range of jams, marmalades, pickles and relishes. Delish!
Pokolbin Mountains Road
Hunter Valley Hidden Gems: Local Markets
On the first Sunday of every month, McNamara Park is transformed into a market with over fifteen stalls popping up across the park. With plenty to keep the kids occupied, expect BBQs, toy stalls, gourmet food products and, of course, wine (it is the Hunter after all).
McNamara Park, Broke
Take a break from the wine-tasting and detour to Kevin Sobels Wines for the Handmade in the Hunter Markets (trust us, it’s worth it!). In a ‘meet-the-maker’ atmosphere, you can meet the talented hands behind some amazing homemade products, think fresh produce, clothes and accessories, carved wood, ceramics, beauty products and much much more. Come and join in the creativity on the second and fourth Saturday of the month from 9am to 3pm.
Kevin Sobel’s Wines, Pokolbin
Hunter Valley Hidden Gems: Festivals
(Image Credit: Hunter Valley Wine & Food Festival)
The Hunter Valley Wine & Food Festival is back and with some definite palate pleasers in the month-long program, it’s time to start planning. In partnership with Wine Selectors, the 2021 Hunter Valley Wine & Food Festival is a celebration of the regions outstanding wines, diverse and abundant fresh local product. Throughout June, expect 30 daily and weekly tastings and experiences, alongside innovative and unique one-off events. The program showcases incredible gourmet lunches and winery dinners, winemaking, blending and cellaring masterclasses, wine and food pairings, fireworks and bonfires and an array of experiences including hands-on cooking classes for adults and children, painting workshops, cocktail masterclass and outdoor picnics. What more could you want in a wine and food festival?
Sculpture in the Vineyards aka., Wollombi Valley Sculpture Festival is the largest and oldest not-for-profit sculpture event in regional NSW. With hundreds of art works on display the beauty of the sculptures is only magnified by the glorious backdrop of the mist-filled vineyards. If you visit the Hunter Valley in the cooler winter months then this is an absolute must-try!
Saturday 11 September - Sunday 26 September
Hunter Valley Hidden Gems: Natural Wonders
Yengo National Park
We know what you’re thinking, how can a mountain be a secret? It’s not. But what is more of a secret is the fact that the Hunter’s natural beauty is as worthwhile and gorgeous as their vineyards. Bushwalking around Mount Yengo and through the Yengo National Park is the perfect way to reconnect with nature. Immerse yourself in the World Heritage-listed wilderness and take in all the spectacular native flora and fauna. Visiting the Finchley Cultural Walk will allow you to take in the stunning wealth of ancient Aboriginal rock art and offer great insights into the local indigenous history. It’s an easy 1 kilometre return walk and the perfect prelude to another afternoon of wine!
The best way to see the area is via the Around Hermitage Wine and Food Trail that takes advantage of the brand-new cycleway along Hermitage Road. Along the trail you'll pass through boutique wineries, an art gallery and sculpture garden, antique stores, a chocolate shop, wine and cooking schools, and a day spa.
Lake St Clair (Image Credit: Singleton Council)
Half an hour north of Singleton, in the shadow of the Mt Royal National Park you'll find the breathtakingly beautiful Lake St Clair. Magnificent in scale the lake is 16km long and stores half as much water as Sydney Harbour. Head to the lake for a day on the water, fishing and sailing!
Hunter Valley Hidden Gems: Experiences
If you’re planning a trip to the Hunter Valley with your little ones in tow your first step should be to read our family-friendly guide to the Hunter Valley and then the second step should be to plan out how you’ll be able to get access to some wine after a road trip with small children. You might think children and cellar doors don’t mix, these vineyards have done everything possible to make cellar doors kid-friendly.
Calais Estate offers crafts and outdoor activities for little one's as well as gourmet picnic packs so you can eat among the vines. Margan Wines & Restaurant offers complimentary lawn games and activities in the courtyard as well as kid-friendly food offerings. Misty Glen Wines has a dedicated kids zone with balls, Play-Doh, crayons and two very kid-friendly dogs named Semillon and Chambourcin. Perhaps our favourite kid-friendly cellar doors would have to be from Tulloch Wines who offer a junior tasting experience with five snacks and non-alcoholic drink pairings as well as colouring books, giant Jenga, lawn games and board games.
(Image Credit: Blueberry Vineyard & Red Door Collective)
Visit a boutique cellar door
Veer off the beaten track during your next visit to the Valley. With unique drops and an intimate atmosphere away from the thongs of people in mini-vans, boutique wineries are the perfect way to see unique view of the Hunter. Blueberry Hill and the Red Door Collective are two perfectly picturesque spots for a boutique cellar door experience.
Inspired by our list of Hunter Valley hidden gems and looking for even more things to check out in the Hunter? Check out our guide to the ultimate edit of things to do in the Hunter Valley or our tips on visiting the Hunter Valley with kids. To keep up to date with happenings in the Hunter Valley we recommend checking out winecountry.com.au and visitnsw.com.
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