On the banks of the Hunter River, Maitland will charm you with intriguing heritage, food festivals, delicious eateries and bustling markets. A vibrant historic town in the Hunter Valley wine region, you’ll discover beautifully restored colonial buildings, museums and a fine regional art gallery.
From colonial philanthropist Caroline Chisholm to famous boxer Les Darcy, Maitland’s history will captivate you on the East Maitland Heritage Walk. Among the fascinating heritage buildings, you’ll see Chisholm’s cottage and the Maitland Gaol, which opened in 1848 and closed 150 years later.
Join a guided tour of the gaol or visit for one of the events held inside the sandstone walls, such as the Bitter and Twisted Boutique Beer Festival, which celebrates craft beer, music and food. You can even stay a night in the gaol. The night behind bars includes a torchlight tour of the former prison.
Maitland is two hours’ drive north of Sydney and 40 minutes from Newcastle. You can take the train from Sydney to Maitland, where rural vistas and country hospitality create a lovely experience. The riverside Levee is a delight, too, with an enticing mix of boutiques, cafes, restaurants and small bars.
The tasty events calendar celebrates the region’s food, wine, music and diverse cultures. With 600 stalls, the monthly Maitland Markets is brimming with local produce. The scrumptious Maitland Taste Festival is in March, and the Aroma Coffee and Chocolate Festival will warm you up in August.
Art lovers are in for a treat as well. Maitland Regional Art Gallery’s superb collection includes works by Margaret Olley, Brett Whiteley, Fiona Hall and John Olsen. For the history of fashion from the 1860s to present, visit the Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles and marvel at the changes.
A short drive away is a fashion icon and one of Australia’s iconic big things – the Big UGG Boots, at Mortels Sheepskin Factory and The Sheep’s Back Museum. There are factory tours where you’ll learn how the world-famous boots are made. The Mortel family business has been operating since 1958.
Maitland is a great base for exploring Australia’s oldest wine region. Places to stay suit various budgets and 12 minutes’ drive away is historic Morpeth, a colonial river port. About 30 minutes southwest is Werakata National Park, a popular wilderness for bushwalkers and mountain bikers