Top 10 things to do in the Hunter Valley, Newcastle, and Lake Macquarie

6 January 2015

As the home of sensational events in the coming months, the Hunter ValleyNewcastle and Lake Macquarie are three premier destinations that can be explored in the one trip, with about an hour’s drive between each city.

Take advantage of great accommodation deals to explore this beautiful region and discover what’s on with these the top 10 things to do:

1. Get tasting

The Hunter Valley is renowned for its gourmet local produce including cheese, olives and olive oils. Taste some of these highlights and more at the Maitland Taste, Food, Wine and Music Festival on 7 – 8 March. When travelling through this region visiting a Hunter Valley winery is also a must. Drop in to a cellar door and sample some of Australia’s most outstanding wines, such as the Hunter Valley semillon. Nearby, Newcastle also offers an impressive food and wine scene where you can enjoy meals by the water and indulge in fine-dining at one of the city’s two hatted restaurants, Subo and Restaurant Mason.

Relaxing in Mount View, Hunter Valley

Combine beautiful wine with views in the Hunter Valley.

2. Get dancing 
The Hunter region hosts a huge line-up of live music events in spectacular vineyard settings. See Sting and Paul Simon On Stage Together on February 14 at Hope Estate, where you can also watch 1970s Californian rockers The Eagles perform on 7 March. Legendary Swedish pop-rockers Roxette play at Bimbadgen Winery on 28 February. Lively outdoor music festivals also take place across the Hunter in the coming months. See great Australian music acts at the Campfire Festival in Pokolbin from 13-15 March, experience Folk in Broke on 28 March, or return to the 1950s at the Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival from 27-29 March. For a musical history lesson, visit the Newcastle Museum to see the Making of Midnight Oil exhibition opening next month and discover the band’s social and cultural impact over 40 years.

Ladies dressed in 1950s wear at the Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival

Old school glamour at the Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival. Image credit: Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival

3. Get cultural
Discover Newcastle’s thriving arts scene by wandering through the city’s range of inner city art galleries, such as the prestigious Newcastle Art Gallery. View the LIKE US exhibition and immerse yourself in a world of beautiful and strange creatures in a series of sculptures, paintings, drawings and video works by internationally respected Australian artist, Patricia Piccinini. Attend book launches, workshops and masterclasses at the Newcastle Writers Festival and listen to acclaimed Australian novelists share their stories and passions.

Guide leading a tour inside the Newcastle Art Gallery

Join a tour at the Newcastle Art Gallery. Image credit: Newcastle Council.

4. Get wet

The Lake Macquarie area has 30 km of golden beaches, in addition to its beautiful lake centrepiece, with plenty of fun water activities to enjoy such as boating, fishing, kayaking and sailing. See Lake Macquarie come to life during Lakefest with sailing events and water sports from 21 – 27 February.

In Newcastle, hit the waves at Merewether Beach and watch all the action of Newcastle Surfest, one of the largest surfing festivals in Australia, between 6 – 22 February. Go for a swim at the Newcastle Ocean Baths near Newcastle Beach, then head north for a walk along Nobbys Beach, passing the Historic Soldier’s Baths Rock Pool.

Aerial shot of Merewther Beach, Newcastle

Merewether Beach. Image credit: Visit Newcastle

5. Get riding

Lake Macquarie is a great destination for cycling with many scenic shared pathways including the Warners Bay Foreshore Walk. Take a leisurely ride around the lake following the Red Bluff Boardwalk from Eleebana to Warners Bay. Loop the Lake is a fun family cycling event on 8 March which features 15 km, 50 km and 85 km rides.

Cycling through the Hunter Valley’s picturesque vineyards is also a great way to explore the region and its wineries.

Cycling through vineyards in the Hunter Valley

Hire a bike and cycle through the Hunter Valley’s vineyards. Image credit: Grape Mobile, Pokolbin

6. Get entertained

Immerse yourself in a world of creativity, excitement and thrill by watching one of the spectacular shows in the Newcastle. Experience the daring antics of Nitro Circus Live as some of the world’s best action sports athletes perform a stunning display of FMX and BMX tricks and stunts on 21 March. Watch the highly acclaimed Las Vegas show, Spiegelworld presents Absinthe, in a lavishly decorated arena within Newcastle’s Civic Theatre from 17 February – 1 March. Inspired by the cabarets of late 19th century Europe, Absinthe is an adult-themed production featuring a blend of circus, burlesque and vaudeville for a 21st century audience.

Motorbikes flying through the air during Nitro Circus Live

Enjoy thrilling acts watching Nitro Circus Live. Image Credit: Nitro Circus Live

7. Get shopping

A vibrant local markets scene showcases the best of the region’s produce, craft and culture. With more than 600 stalls, the Maitland Markets are the biggest markets in the region, held on the first Sunday of every month (except January). Visit Handmade in the Hunter on the second and fourth Saturday of each month and discover a melting pot of cuisines at the Newcastle City Farmers Market held on Sunday mornings and Wednesday afternoons until night. The Lake Macquarie City Farmers Market exemplify a passion for local food on the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

Market stalls in Newcastle

Buy fresh produce from the markets in Newcastle. Image credit: Newcastle Tourism

8. Get fishing

The fishing opportunities at Lake Macquarie have long attracted anglers with potential catches such as flathead, bream, tailor and whiting. For on-shore fishing visit Lucy’s Wall at Swansea Heads, or head out onto the water at The Drop Over at Marks Point, or Pulbah Island in Lake Macquarie.

Fishing at Sand Islands, Swansea in Lake Macquarie.

Fishing at Sand Islands, Swansea in Lake Macquarie. Image credit: Paul Foley; Lake Macquarie Tourism

9. Get walking

Explore the beautiful national parks in the Lake Macquarie area on foot. Admire the trickling waterfalls and lush forest within Watagans National Park and lookout for wildlife such as echidnas and white-bellied sea eagles at the Wallarah National Park.

The stunning Hunter Valley Gardens stretch across 60 acres with sensational sights, colours, fragrances and adventures. Walk around the ten individual feature gardens including the Storybook Garden, Rose Garden and The Indian Mosaic Garden.

Waterfall within the Hunter Valley Gardens

Scenic views at the Hunter Valley Gardens in Pokolbin. Image credit: Hunter Valley Gardens

10. Get playing

The Lake Macquarie Variety Playground located at Speers Point Park can be fun for the entire family. Spanning an area of 2 hectares, the playground has a wide range of play equipment as well as picnic facilities. Visit Newcastle’s Jet Flight simulator and take to the skies in a Replica Boeing 737-800 Simulator, or put your fitness to the test by visiting the Tree Top Adventure Park, suitable for children and adults.

Kids climb the obstacle course at the Treetop Adventure Park, Newcastle

Have a treetop adventure at Treetop Adventure Park in Newcastle. Image credit: Treetop Adventure Park, Newcastle.