Things to Do in the Hunter Valley, Sydney

Try hot-air ballooning in the Hunter Valley
Try hot-air ballooning in the Hunter Valley | © Jordan Fleming / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Susanna Smith
19 October 2020

Hunter Valley is the place to go for a wine-tasting weekend while you’re in Sydney, but there is more to this region than vineyards and boozing. Try exploring Aboriginal culture at Yengo National Park, visit historic Morpeth or help save Australia’s unique wildlife while hanging out with Tasmanian devils at Australia Ark.

Explore nature and culture at Yengo National Park

Park, Natural Feature
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Sun rising over forested hills and Mt Yengo.  Yengo National Park, NSW Australia
© Matt Smith / Alamy Stock Photo
Yengo National Park is a dramatic expanse of wilderness with steep gorges and rocky ridges, and has a deep connection to local Aboriginal cultural heritage. Take the Finchley Cultural Walk to view one of the best Aboriginal engraving sites in Australia. The more challenging Yango Walking Trail takes you through six kilometres of pristine wilderness and rainforest for stunning views over Yengo and Wollemi wilderness from Mount Yengo lookout. If one day here isn’t enough, you can reserve a campsite at one of the four campgrounds in the park or book a room at Big Yango House. If you’d like to spend more time learning about the area’s many Aboriginal sacred sites and traditions, Wollombi Aboriginal Culture tours can take you through the park on a guided tour or camp.

Step back in time in historic Morpeth

Historical Landmark
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MORPETH, AUSTRALIA - Oct 23, 2019: Commercial Hotel, Morpeth , NSW Australia . The Commercial Hotel took over from the Farmers United Home Hotel which
© WireStock / Alamy Stock Photo
Morpeth is a historic town on the banks of the Hunter River that was once a thriving port, and the town’s Heritage Walk pays homage to its lively past. Visit Queens Wharf before taking time out in the tea rooms of the historic Campbells Store and visiting the Morpeth Museum in the former courthouse. The historic Arnott Bakehouse, which started as a family business run by William Arnott of Arnott’s Biscuits fame in 1847, is now Morpeth Sourdough, where Stephen Arnott, a descendent of the original owner, holds regular sourdough baking classes. To indulge in some of the local products, visit the Morpeth Wine Cellar and Moonshine Distillery for a selection of local wines, or head to the Commercial Hotel for handcrafted beers produced by the Morpeth Brewery and Beer company.

Help save Australia’s wildlife at Aussie Ark

Natural Feature
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Aussie Ark in Barrington Tops is on a mission to save Australia’s threatened species from extinction by creating wild sanctuaries to enable them to establish a long-term future free from predators. One of the major projects the Ark is undertaking is to try to save the Tasmanian devil from extinction by breeding a population free of the facial tumour disease that is decimating their numbers in Tasmania. Take a Devils in the Wild tour to get up close to these unique creatures and watch one of their intense feeding sessions. Visitors can learn how the Ark is working to ensure their future survival, and even cuddle up to one of their joeys while taking a ranger-guided tour of the sanctuary.

Take a tour of the Hunter Valley's legendary wineries

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Early morning in the vineyards, Hunter Valley
© Paul Kingsley / Alamy Stock Photo
Wine is the heart and soul of the Hunter Valley and it is home to more cellar doors than any other wine region in Australia. The breadth of flavour and character of the wines produced is what makes it such a special place to visit, and a wine tour is a great way to meet with winemakers and learn about the methods they use. You can take a traditional bus tour or opt for something more quirky such as a 1965 Ford Mustang, a horse-drawn carriage, a motorbike or even a tour on horseback. Most guides will offer you the chance to sample the products of renowned local cheesemakers, chocolatiers and other gourmet producers, and to dine at award-winning restaurants such as Bistro Molines, Muse Restaurant, Muse Kitchen and Margan.

Cycle the Around Hermitage Wine and Food trail

Brewery, Winery
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There is something for everyone on the Around Hermitage Food and Wine Trail in Pokolbin, one of the most scenic spots in the Hunter Valley. There are boutique beers, award-winning wines and chocolates to try, as well as an art gallery, a sculpture garden, antiques, a dairy, cooking schools and day spas. One of the best ways to explore the trail is to head out on two wheels along the dedicated bike trail, which links over a dozen wineries along a quaint vine-lined road where you can indulge in a game of croquet, giant Jenga or chess as well as sampling wines.

See the Hunter Valley from the sky

Natural Feature
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Hot air ballooning the hunter valley
Try hot-air ballooning in the Hunter Valley | © Jordan Fleming / Alamy Stock Photo
There is no better way to see the magical landscapes of the Hunter Valley than by taking to the sky. Take a hot-air balloon trip and watch the sunrise over the patchwork landscape of vineyards, lakes, mountains and lazy winding country roads before enjoying a champagne breakfast at a local winery. If you’re after more of an adrenalin rush, opt for a skydiving experience or take to the skies in an authentic military plane with an experienced aerobatic or military pilot. If you’re keen to combine flight with food and wine, try a vineyard-hopping heli-wine tour where you can be set down next to the vines at some of the region’s top wineries, or have a progressive lunch by flying between restaurants for each course.
These recommendations were updated on October 19, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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