The largest town in Australia’s oldest wine region, Cessnock is perfect for exploring the Hunter Valley’s acclaimed wineries and cellar doors. Plenty of wine tours begin in Cessnock, and you’ll be thrilled with the fun family attractions, including the Hunter Valley Zoo and Werakata National Park.
Only two hours’ drive from Sydney and an hour from Newcastle, Cessnock is surrounded by verdant countryside and splendid wilderness. Places to stay suit various budgets, from a heritage guesthouse and lovingly restored federation cottages to heritage pubs, a holiday park and a backpacker hostel.
You’ll find a delicious selection of restaurants, including the award-winning 221 Restaurant & Bar in the 1922-built Royal Oak Hotel. Other classic country pubs with restaurants and accommodation include the 1904-built Peden’s Hotel and the Abermain Hotel, built in 1905 in nearby Abermain.
Check out the lively events calendar for a marvellous program of drama, comedy, ballet and concerts at the Cessnock Performing Arts Centre. The 466-seat theatre hosts international and interstate touring companies. Why not combine a midweek or weekend break with a show and a wine tour?
For art lovers, the Cessnock Regional Art Gallery hosts touring exhibitions and shows throughout the year and displays works by the region’s artists. The gallery program is 12 exhibitions annually, with a focus on the visual arts. After admiring the artwork, visit the gallery shop and browse enticing gifts.
Architectural gems in Cessnock include a timber-sawn home, circa 1885, that now houses the Marthaville Arts and Cultural Centre. The centre is open on Friday and Saturday and you can buy locally handmade arts and craft. You can also bring a hamper and enjoy a picnic in the gardens.
Another picnic spot is under the gum trees at Astills picnic area, in Werakata National Park. The charming location is only 10 minutes’ drive from Cessnock. Bring your mountain bikes as the 8km Deadmans mountain bike loop starts here. The easy trail winds through ironbark and spotted gums.
At Hunter Valley Zoo, hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies and get up close to koalas. There are exotic animals, from big cats to meerkats, Malayan tapir berani and South American capybara. Near the zoo is the Potters Hotel Brewery Resort, where you can savour Hunter Beer Co’s craft brews.