Scenic Drives in the Upper Hunter

A wonderful way to explore the charming Upper Hunter is on scenic drives. You can do a loop and visit picturesque country towns or split the beautiful region into a couple of drives, branching off to enjoy cellar doors, vineyard restaurants, heritage walks, fun festivals and spectacular wilderness.

With plenty of places to stay, enjoy a short break or longer sojourn in the area famous for its thoroughbred horses such as Winx and its delicious food and wine. The wineries are part of the Hunter Valley wine region. You can even time a road trip with the exciting and delightful festivals:

Smoke drifting over Burning Mountain Nature Reserve near Scone

A good place to begin a self-drive tour is Muswellbrook, on the banks of the Hunter River and only three hours’ drive north of Sydney. You can catch a train to the town and rent a car, or fly into Newcastle Airport for the 90 minutes’ drive to Muswellbrook, home to tasty Hunter Belle Cheese.

Stretch your legs on the Muswellbrook Heritage Walk and visit the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre. The art gallery is home to the Max Watters Collection of influential Australian artworks by John Perceval, Grace Cossington-Smith, Ken Whisson and Charles Blackman, to name just a few.

For cellar doors, enjoy a pretty drive southwest to Denman, via olive oil producer Pukara Estate. Around Denman are Two Rivers Wines, Small Forest and Hollydene Estate Wines, where you can enjoy lunch at the Vines Restaurant. West is James Estate Wines in Baerami, near Sandy Hollow.

Kangaroos in the vineyard at Two Rivers Wines, Denman

From Sandy Hollow take a gorgeous drive on the Golden Highway to Merriwa, where you can branch off and enjoy the Lees Pinch lookout walking track or the Big River drive in the Goulburn River National Park. Merriwa is home to the Cottage Museum and the annual Merriwa Festival of Fleeces.

North of Muswellbrook is Aberdeen, which celebrates its Scottish heritage with the annual Aberdeen Highland Games. Two lovely drives from Aberdeen are northeast to shimmering Lake Glenbawn – a popular spot for fishing, boating and camping - and north to Scone, the horse capital of Australia.

North of Scone, on the way to Murrurundi at the foothills of the Liverpool Range, is a naturally burning coal seam at Burning Mountain Nature Reserve and Towarri National Park’s Washpools waterhole. Murrurundi hosts the annual King of the Ranges Stockman’s Challenge and Bush Festival.


  1. Waterworld Central Muswellbrook

    Saturday 23 February 2019 to Sunday 24 February 2019 ,

    For those of you craving that summer sun and fun outdoor activities, get excited because Waterworld Central, Australia’s first mobile water park, is coming to the Muswellbrook Showground! Come splash with them over two weekends in…

    23 Feb - 24 Feb
  2. Denman Farmers Market

    Saturday 02 March 2019 to Saturday 06 April 2019 , Denman

    The Denman Farmers Market is a genuine producers market in the heart of the Hunter Valley, held on the first Saturday of the month. Located a short drive from Muswellbrook, Denman offers the best in local produce including wine, cheese,…

    02 Mar - 06 Apr
  3. Muswellbrook Cup

    Friday 29 March 2019 ,

    One of the Upper Hunter's 'must attend' social events in Autumn is incorporated into a progressive and exciting festival in Muswellbrook in late March. The Cup Carnival has moved from its Spring date to transform the ever growing…

    29 Mar
  4. Upper Hunter Regional Show

    Event dates to be confirmed: April 2019 , Muswellbrook

    The Upper Hunter Regional Show is held annually two weeks prior to Easter. It encourages inclusion from all schools in the area, as well as being a social hub for community interaction and volunteering. The show encourages social…

  5. Scone Horse Festival

    Friday 03 May 2019 to Sunday 12 May 2019 , Scone

    The historic town of Scone is well known as the ‘Horse Capital of Australia’ and for more than 37 years, a festival has been held in the town paying homage to all breeds of horses, including Thoroughbreds, Australian Stock horses and…

    03 May - 12 May