When visiting the Hunter countryside from Sydney you will most likely travel along the Central Coast and Newcastle. If self-driving it is worth stopping by here and there as the coast is blessed with gorgeous beaches, national parks, lakes and waterways. The coastal drive itself is a delightful visual experience.

Central Coast makes a great scenic trip (travelling from Sydney to Hunter Valley)

NEWCASTLE (FOR BEACH LOVERS)

Once a notorious penal settlement, Newcastle today is a pretty, historic city with a broad international student scene. The town was largely founded on coal mining and heavy industry, and it became one of the country`s largest ports.

Most importantly, Newcastle is surrounded by some of the finest beaches in New South Wales, and it is the gateway to the fine wineries of the Hunter Valley.

Newcastle is a much-loved beach hub in NSW

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN NEWCASTLE

  • HISTORICAL LANDMARKS – Christ Church Cathedral, City Hall, Maitland Goal, Convict Lumber Yard, Fort Scratchley, Nelson Head Heritage Reserve, Historic Tram Ride
  • ART GALLERIES AND MUSEUMS – Newcastle Museum, Newcastle Art Gallery, Maitland Goal, Convict Lumber Yard
  • LOOKOUTS – Gan Gan Lookout, Knobby Head – great surfing spot, lighthouse, Queens Wharf Tower, Shepherds Hill Fort, Sugarloaf Lookout
  • NATURE AND WALKS – Blackbutt Reserve, Fernleigh Track, Newcastle Memorial Walk, Fingal Bay, Bathers Bay Coastal Walk, Yuelarbah Track
  • BEST BEACHES – Newcastle Beach, Stockton Beach, Glenrock Lagoon, Tuggerah Lake, Broughton Island, Nobbys Beach, Redhead Beach, One Mile Beach,
  • Lake Macquarie & Pulbah Island – Australia’s largest coastal saltwater lagoon (swamps, eucalyptus forest, protected birdlife, native wildlife and recreation
Nobbys Beach is among the best in Newcastle, with great walks, lookout & lighthouse

HUNTER VALLEY (FOR WINE & FOOD LOVERS)

In New South Wales, it surely is wine what instantly comes to mind whenever the Lower Hunter is mentioned – and with good reason. The viticulture history dates back to 1800s, and the region has gradually become one of the most prolific wine-producing areas in Australia, with an epicentre in Cessnock.

The wineries cater well for visitors with cellar door sales, restaurants, picnic and barbeque options and a wide range of accommodation and tours.

A tasting room & cellar doors in Pokolbin, Hunter Valley

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN HUNTER VALLEY

  • Cessnock – the Hunter Valley Wine Society Headquarters is a great starting point for visits to the wine district if you are doing a self-guided wine tour (hot air balloon ride over the rolling hills is a popular attraction)
  • Werakata National Park – bike trails, walking, picnic, scenic drive, native fauna and flora
  • Branxton – the Wyndham Estate Winery and the first Greek Revival building that was home to the Wyndham family
  • Maitland – a charming historic town with many heritage buildings, the best way to explore the town is the  Maitland Heritage Walk
A hot air balloon ride over the rolling hills of Hunter Valley is a popular attraction in Cessnock

WOLLEMI-YENGO-GOULBURN NATIONAL PARK (FOR NATURE & WILDLIFE LOVERS)

The Golden Highway between Newcastle and Dubbo is a well-travelled route. For thousands of years, the valley of the Hunter-Goulburn river system was a movement corridor for Aboriginal travelling between the coast and the western plains.

There is plenty of spectacular scenery on the way, particularly at the Wollemi and Yengo National Parks and the nearby Goulburn National Park – the largest wilderness forests left in New South Wales.

The picturesque rolling hills of the Hunter Valley change into rugged, limestone cliffs and eroded sandstone formations. These national parks are basically an extension to the Blue Mountains National Park, and it features a very similar climate and landscape.

Wollemi National Park

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN WOLLEMI-YENGO-GOULBURN NATIONAL PARK

  • Singleton/Upper Hunter – picturesque sceneries with pretty vineyards, farmyards and fertile pastures
  • Denman/Wollemi National Park – Colo River, glow worms, eucalypt forest wilderness, wineries, historic sites (Koopartoo rail tunnel)
  • Merriwa/Goulburn National Park – Mount Dangar Lookout, walking and hiking
  • Putty Scenic Road – connecting Blue Mountains, Wollemi and Yengo National Parks (174 km), it is a beautiful scenic drive with lots of camping and hiking options (drive from Singelton to Richmond)
Glowworm tunnel in Lithgow

TRAVEL TIP

The best way to explore the Hunter Region is to self-drive the big scenic circuit that covers both the Hunter Valley and the Blue Mountains-Wollemi-Yengo-Goulburn National Parks, starting in Newcastle as follows:

NEWCASTLE-CESSNOCK-SINGELTON-DENMAN-MERRIWA-DUNEDOO-BATHURST-LITHGOW-BLACKHEATH-KATOOMBA-RICHMOND-PUTTY SCENIC ROAD-SINGELTON-CESSNOCK-NEWCASTLE

Hunter Valley makes a fantastic one-day road trip with great photography opportunities

WHEN TO TRAVEL

If visiting the Hunter Valley mainly for wine sampling and cellar doors weather does not play a big role. However, for beautiful colours, the autumn months seem to be perfect (April-May), and also the harvesting season brings a lot of events and activities, but more crowds (Dec-Feb).

NOTE The nearby national parks can be visited any time of a year although summers tend to be very hot and extremely crowded, especially during the Australian summer holidays (Dec-Feb). Winters (June-Aug) are quite chilly, with occasional snow, but sunny. The middle season is probably the best option for travelling (Oct-Nov and Mar-April).

HOW TO GET THERE

The Hunter Valley is ideal for a day trip or a weekend away from Sydney (1.5 hr drive) or Newcastle (40 min drive).

Nonetheless, some tourists prefer to arrange a group wine tasting tour directly in Sydney/Newcastle – that will allow you enjoying as much wine as you can bear and being driven safely around the wineries and back to your hotel. J

Read Next

Comments

Eva Bodova

Eva Bodova

Saturday 3 August 2019

Mini Gallery

Book Your Accomodation

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

NEW SOUTH WALES

LORD HOWE ISLAND

NEW SOUTH WALES

THE BLUE MOUNTAINS

Stay Updated!

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter...

Subscribe to our email newsletter to receive useful articles and special offers. This monthly email is sent out on the first of every month.

FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM @travelmarbles