On the banks of the beautiful Hunter River, Morpeth is home to National Trust-listed colonial buildings and a fascinating heritage walk that includes the famous bakehouse where the Arnott’s family biscuit dynasty began. The Hunter Valley town was a bustling river port in colonial times.
You can still take a river boat from Newcastle, NSW’s second-biggest city, to Morpeth. Nova Cruises offers the delightful day cruise on selected dates throughout the year. Aboard the river boat you’ll pass under the vertical-lift Hexham Bridge, as well as taste Morpeth wines and other delicious treats.
Alternatively, the drive north from Sydney is only two hours - and from Newcastle Airport about 30 minutes – to Morpeth, where pretty tree-lined streets and cobbled paths are a delight to wander and explore. You’ll enjoy browsing, too, in delightful boutiques in heritage 19th century buildings.
On the Morpeth Heritage Walk, discover more than two dozen significant heritage sites, including Queens Wharf and colonial hitching posts for horses. The picturesque Queens Wharf area contains remnants of the original wharf, one of Australia’s most important inland wharves before the railway.
The intriguing Morpeth Museum is in the former courthouse, which bestowed justice from 1862 to 1942. You can sit in the judge’s chair and spend time in an old cell in the museum. There are also exhibitions on river port’s history and other heritage, including important Arnott’s memorabilia.
The Historic Arnott Bakehouse is on Swan Street. The family business began in 1847, when baker and confectioner William Arnott arrived in Morpeth from Scotland. William, along with his brother David, made bread and ship’s biscuits. From small beginnings, Arnott’s biscuits became a household name.
Stop for a cool drink at the Commercial Hotel, home to the Morpeth Brewery and Beer Co., which produces hand-crafted beers. You’ll find plenty of things to do, such as lunch at a riverside cafe. At the beautifully restored Campbell’s Store are specialty craft and gift shops and a lovely tearoom.
Places to stay in Morpeth include gorgeous cottages. An enchanting base for exploring Australia’s oldest wine region, begin your wine tasting at the Morpeth Wine Cellar and Moonshine Distillery, where a selection of local wines is available. The moonshine is made on-site in two copper stills.