Plan an accessible holiday in the Hunter Valley
There is a holiday for everyone in Hunter Valley, including those with access needs. This quick guide will help you plan an accessible holiday in Australia’s oldest wine region, with the best wineries, restaurants, attractions and hotels.
From breakfast through dinner, the Hunter Valley’s cafes and restaurants make sure that everyone is catered for. Most of the best dining spots in the region are accessible for wheelchair users or people with additional access needs. Ease into the day at The Deck Cafe in Lovedale, where coffee is ideally enjoyed on the patio overlooking a dam. If you prefer to start the day with bubbles, head to Restaurant Cuvee at Peterson House, set inside a beautiful sandstone building surrounded by huge a leafy courtyard.
On a sunny day, grab an outdoor table for lunch at Muse Kitchen. This chic European-style bistro holds a coveted hat, but the menu doesn’t take itself too seriously. Baumé Restaurant at Ben Ean winery is another great option for alfresco dining, or on cooler days take a seat in the spacious dining room. Meals are served family style and the authentic woodfired pizza is a highlight.
When happy hour beckons, head to Harrigan’s, a legendary Irish pub where both the onsite rooms and the bistro are accessible to wheelchairs and prams (the pub is very kid-friendly, too). Order something cold to drink and enjoy the end of the day in a lively setting. For craft beers with a sunset vista, 4 Pines at The Farm has lots of different seating options, and a large lawn for kids and dogs to enjoy.
Who wants to self-drive when you’re visiting Australia’s oldest wine region? This is where Hunter Valley Tours comes in, offering a comfortable and safe way for passengers to sample the best of the region. They are committed to offering a fully accessible and inclusive service, and work closely with the Hunter Valley’s best accessible wineries. They’ll get you to them in a luxury minibus with a hydraulic lifter, slide-out step and plenty of space for wheelchairs, walking frames and prams to be stowed. They’ll also drop you right at the door, to minimise walking.
If you’d prefer to go at your own pace, there are plenty of options. The huge, modern cellar door at Brokenwood Wines has many accessible areas along with a range of guided wine tasting experiences that will take you on the full grape to glass journey. Or book a table for lunch at the on site The Wood Restaurant. Sobels Wine has wheelchair access – as an added bonus, you can bring your dog along. Drayton’s Family Wines is the oldest winery in the Hunter Valley but has a very modern approach to accessibility, so you’ll always receive a warm welcome.
Perched atop one of the foothills of the Brokenback Range, Audrey Wilkinson has some of the best views in the valley. Hunter Wine Lab is one of the newest vineyards in the valley, opening in 2020, and has quickly become known for its pink prosecco. Other wineries that are fully accessible include Hunter’s Dream, Hanging Tree Wines, Oakvale Wines, Thirsty Palette Wines, Gartelmann Wines, Iron Gate Estate, Tintilla Estate and Hungerford Hill.
While the Hunter Valley Gardens is immense – it covers 14 hectares and there are eight kilometres of trails – many of its themed garden areas are within easy reach of the entrance and the disabled parking spaces. Throughout, paths are covered with a crushed sandstone product that can be navigated by prams and wheelchairs, and they (and ramps) are wide enough to accommodate both. Guide and companion dogs are also welcome.
In September 2023, Balloon Aloft launched the Hunter Valley’s first accessible balloon flights. Travellers with reduced mobility or those in a wheelchair can be driven right up to the accessible basket and transfer through the custom door into a customised seat with harnesses (if needed). Wheelchairs or mobility aids can’t come on the flight, but they will be brought to the landing spot to meet guests when they disembark.
There’s something about the Hunter Valley that breeds creativity. Browse the work of local talents at Maitland Regional Art Gallery – there’s level access from the gallery car park, which also has disabled parking spaces. All public areas, including the shop and cafe, are accessible via ramps or lifts, and there are disabled toilets with plenty of space for prams or wheelchairs.
Whatever style of accommodation you’re after, you’ll find an accessible option in the Hunter Valley. For a little luxury, reserve a room at Spicers Guesthouse – its paths and ramps make navigating walkways and internal areas with wheels as smooth as possible, and there are two stylish accessible king rooms. At sister property Spicers Vineyards Estate, splash out with a stay in the accessible luxury spa suite that includes a fireplace and private courtyard.
Like many Hunter Valley properties, Rydges Resort (formerly the Crowne Plaza) comes with vine views for days. Wheelchair and pram accessible rooms are available, and you can also request additions to make your stay more comfortable, like handrails, tall toilets and spacious roll-in showers. There are ramps to restaurants and hotel facilities and elevators to all floors, with Braille in lifts and public areas. voco Kirkton Park has accessible rooms with two queen beds, extra floor space and a wheel in ensuite on the main level, close to restaurants and other amenities.
The unique Boathouses at Leaves and Fishes sit elevated above a lotus pond, offering a secluded adults-only escape. The accessible room has a parking spot by the door, ramp entry and bathroom supports. Willow Tree Estate sits on glorious green grounds with paved paths to ensure your journey from your car to the front door is a comfortable one. It’s the perfect perch for multi-generational groups travelling together with 12 plush rooms to accommodate family and friends. Bathrooms are wheelchair accessible and there’s a family room, games room and cinema room to relax in after a day of wine tasting.