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. 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
  2. Upper Hunter Wine and Food Affair

    Event dates to be confirmed: May 2019 , Denman

    Wine lovers take the opportunity to stock your cellar with some of the Hunter's best wines. Leading Upper Hunter wineries will be showcasing their wines and will be available for sale on the day. Food lovers will be able to tempt their…

  3. Darley Scone Cup Carnival

    Friday 10 May 2019 to Saturday 11 May 2019 , Scone

    The biggest country racing carnival in Australia boasts nearly AUD2 million in prize money over the two days with stand-alone metropolitan status. Featuring the Emirates Park Dark Jewel Classic (Group Three), Darley Scone Cup (L), four…

    10 May - 11 May
  4. Rosto Merriwa Festival of the Fleeces

    Friday 07 June 2019 to Sunday 09 June 2019 , Scone

    The Merriwa Festival of the Fleeces has been a major Upper Hunter event since its creation in 1990. Established to promote the best of agriculture that Merriwa has to offer with a focus on the history of the Merino Sheep and how this…

    07 Jun - 09 Jun
  5. Hunter Soap Box Derby

    Saturday 29 June 2019 ,

    The Hunter Soap Box Derby idea was born out of a conversation that was had with locals, corporate members of the Upper Hunter and the Hunter Life Education (HLE) Executive Officer. They were discussing how they could help build and foster…

    29 Jun
  6. Aberdeen Highland Games

    Saturday 06 July 2019 , Scone

    The annual Aberdeen Highland Games take place on first weekend in July each year and are run in conjunction with the Scottish Australia Heritage Council's Heritage Week. During the day a number of events take place together with stalls…

    06 Jul