The largest town in the Hunter Valley, Cessnock is a great base for exploring Australia’s oldest wine region. It’s also home to family-friendly attractions like the Hunter Valley Wildlife Park, a craft brewery, a number of delicious restaurants and cosy cafes, and an acclaimed arts centre. 



Wine tours & places to eat 

While there are no wineries in Cessnock itself, it’s just a short drive from the Hunter Valley wineries and many wine tours will start from here. The closest wineries to town are Briar Ridge, Saddlers Creek, Iron Gate Estate, Hanging Tree and Petersons. If you’d like to join a tour, try All Around the Vines, Cheers Bus or Hunter Valley Wine Tour 4 U. The Hunter Valley Visitor Information Centre is in Cessnock and a great place to go for advice. 

Just outside of town is the one-hat Bistro Molines, a little slice of Provence in the Hunter hills. With its beautiful outdoor terrace, surrounded by vines and overlooking the fields below, this is classic French cuisine and hospitality. The Mighty is a sprawling venue on the outskirts of Cessnock with a craft brewery, restaurant and plenty of grass for kids and dogs to explore. For classic country pub grub, visit the Royal Oak, Peden’s Hotel or the Abermain Hotel

Food and wine overlooking Mount View at Bistro Molines, Mount View

Bistro Molines, Mount View

Family fun 

Hand feed kangaroos, pat a wombat and marvel at exotic animals like white lions, ring-tailed lemurs and meerkats at the Hunter Valley Wildlife Park. Kids will love the Zookeeper for a Day program that runs during the school holidays or join the giraffes for a private sunrise breakfast on Sundays. Hunter Valley Gardens is just 15 minutes from Cessnock and has 14 hectares of gorgeous gardens to explore as well as program of family-friendly events throughout the year. 

Pack a picnic and head for Astills picnic area in Werakata National Park, just 10 minutes out of town. Look out for pretty wildflowers and listen for birds like kookaburras, speckled warblers and black-chinned honeyeaters. Nearby, the Deadmans Loop mountain bike track is an 8km loop that winds through spotted gums. 

Black and White Lemur encounter, Hunter Valley Wildlife Park

Black and White Lemur encounter, Hunter Valley Wildlife Park - Credit: Hunter Valley Wildlife Park

Culture & heritage 

Admire Cessnock’s oldest timber-sawn house, built around 1885, that is now home to the Marthaville Arts and Cultural Centre. It regularly hosts events and exhibits, and is the place to pick up locally made crafts. For theatre, music, dance or comedy, head for the Cessnock Performing Arts Centre. Check the events calendar for upcoming performances or local festivals, like the annual Cessnock Stomp Festival. 

In Yengo National Park, around an hour from Cessnock, you can see Aboriginal engravings at one of Australia’s finest Aboriginal cultural sites. Join an immersive tour with Wollombi Aboriginal Cultural Experiences to learn more about the area’s ancient Indigenous history and the modern connections to culture. 

Dance performance at the Cessnock Performing Arts Centre

Dance performance, Cessnock Performing Arts Centre

Where to stay

Accommodation in Cessnock is plentiful. Travellers on a budget can choose motels, pubs and holiday parks, or live like a local in one of the town’s cosy holiday cottages. For a little bit of luxury, there are grand homesteads and stylish houses with swimming pools, such as Villa Leone Estate and Hunter Valley Lodge and Retreat. For a taste of rural life, check in to Odyssean, a working horse farm with tiny house accommodation.

Aerial view of Villa Leone Estate, Nulkaba

Villa Leone Estate, Nulkaba - Credit: Villa Leone Estate

Getting there

Cessnock is the gateway to the Hunter Valley. It’s just a two-hours drive north of Sydney and 50 minutes west of Newcastle Airport. Trains also depart from Sydney for Morisset, where there are regular buses to Cessnock. 

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