72 Hours in the Hunter Valley – Indulgent
How to have the ultimate indulgent midweek break in the Hunter Valley
Gorgeous accommodation, special wine and food experiences, spa treatments and hot-air balloon rides: enjoy the ultimate midweek getaway to the Hunter Valley.
Scores of cellar doors make the Hunter Valley a notable wine destination, but heritage towns, beautiful gardens and a gourmet dining scene make it so much more. It’s the perfect locale to indulge yourself.
Why not avoid the weekend crowds and head to the Hunter for a midweek break, or an extra-long long weekend? Here’s the perfect itinerary for an indulgent stay.
- Go wine tasting at award-winning cellar doors
- Dine on seasonal Hunter Valley produce in the region’s best restaurants
- Enjoy heritage walks and boutique shopping in historic towns
- Relax in gardens, spas and on the golf course
- Soak up the scenic beauty on a dreamy hot-air balloon ride
Take the meandering scenic route.
Getting to the Hunter Valley couldn’t be easier on the M1 motorway from Sydney. But add 30mins to your journey and take Tourist Drive 33 from the Calga motorway exit and you’ll enjoy a scenic meander through the hills. Stop in historic Wollombi along the way for a heritage walk and coffee.
Combine contemporary elegance with country comfort at Spicers Guesthouse, which has gorgeous views over pastures and mountains, as well as a chic infinity pool. Eat at éRemo, the impressive modern-Italian restaurant on site, and you can round off your meal with a Brokenwood Sticky Wicket Semillon dessert wine without having to get back into your car.
Get out among gardens and vineyards.
Have a leisurely morning start at nearby Hunter Valley Gardens, where eight kilometres of paths crisscross the site’s 14 hectares and take you to lakes, waterfalls and a pagoda. Discover 10 feature gardens in themes such as Chinese, Italian and a more unusual Indian Garden, which features topiary elephants and aromatic plants.
Have a relaxed lunch almost next door at Cru Bar & Pantry, where you can choose from wood-fired pizzas or charcuterie platters. The restaurant is at the stunning cellar door of Brokenwood Wines, which has splendid views and a fascinating wine museum.
You’ll find a constellation of great wineries scattered around Pokolbin, all within short drives of each other. (Your hotel has free bicycle hire if you want to pedal through the vineyards instead.) Be sure to drop in at Audrey Wilkinson, one of the oldest vineyards in the Hunter Valley, with a hilltop cellar door and winemaking museum, and the Brokenback Mountains as a backdrop. Tulloch Wines has interesting tastings that pair its wines with cheese or chocolate, while Peterson House specialises in sparkling wines, including whites, rosés and even reds. At Scarborough Wine Co you can taste the estate’s classic range of wines or focus just on flights of chardonnays or red wines. Top tip: if you're planning on visiting multiple wineries, a private tours is the way to go. Kings Hire Car will chauffeur you around the valley in style.
Dine this evening at Baume Restaurant, a 10min drive from your hotel at Ben Ean Winery in a lovely fold of hills. It showcases local produce in Mediterranean-style dishes designed to share, such as arancini stuffed with mozzarella and tomato, and a signature lamb shoulder in red wine straight from a wood-fired oven.
Take things slowly this morning; a sleep-in in your king sized bed, a dip in the heated infinity pool or a gentle walk around the beautiful grounds. Skip the cereal and toast, and start the day with a decadent morning tea at Sabor Dessert Bar – think fresh buttermilk scones, Belgian chocolate waffles and macarons in a dozen different flavours.
This afternoon, take some time out from your busy schedule of eating and drinking to recharge your mind and body.
Set among the vines at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, Ubika Spa offers massages, body scrubs and facials, plus a swanky couples spa suite for some romantic time out. Fancy a more active way to relax? Then take to the championship course at Hunter Valley Golf & Country Club – you can rent clubs if you don’t have any with you.
The Mill is a 10min drive from your accommodation. Hunter Valley produce is showcased in modern Australian dishes such as truffle chicken breast, lamb fillet or slow-cooked beef short ribs. The restaurant is on Estate Tuscany, which has terrific views of the Brokenback Ranges.
Don’t hurry home.
Start your day early with the ultimate air-borne treat – a sunrise hot-air balloon ride with Balloon Aloft. Early-morning mist brings a touch of romance to the hills and vineyards, and as rooftops and nodding cows pass beneath, the beauty of the landscape is revealed. You'll touch down in time for breakfast and bubbles at Peterson House.
You still have time to call in at some cellar doors as you head towards Cessnock, where you can pick up the road towards the M1 and home. Tamburlaine Organic Wines, Ivanhoe Wines (whose product is only available from the cellar door) and Saddler’s Creek Wines are among the options. Briar Ridge Vineyard is well worth a stop for one of the best tasting experiences in the Hunter Valley.