Hunter Valley, Sydney - Region Information

The Hunter Valley is Australia's oldest and one of its greatest wine areas, though it produces only a tiny proportion of its wines - about 2 per cent. First established more than 150 years ago, it is home to some 80 wineries ranging from famous labels to very small 'boutique' winemakers. The Hunter is renowned for its full-bodied white wines, 'medium weight reds' and some excellent ports.

Some of the vineyards belong to big name companies such as Lindemans, McWilliams, Rothbury, Hardy's, Wyndham Estate and McGuigan. Others, like Tyrells and Draytons, are very old Hunter Valley family concerns which have been there for several generations and remained independent.

Hunter Valley Accommodation - Perfect for weekend getaways in Australia's premier wine growing region. Just a 2 hour trip north from Sydney will get you deep into the lush, rolling hills of Barrington tops and Pokolbin. You will also have the oppertunity to join a winery or vineyard tour. Book accommodation and tours now.

Others are small wineries with big reputations such as Simon Whitlam and Lakes Folly. The range is huge though the output is small.

Just a 1½-2½ hour drive north from Sydney, the Hunter Valley long ago recognised the value of tourism. Forty or so years ago wine makers realised attracting visitors, mainly from Sydney, was a good way of promoting themselves to an Australian public which largely knew nothing or very little about wine.

Getting There

The Hunter Valley wine area starts at Cessnock, which is about two and a half hours drive north from the Sydney city centre in moderate traffic. You simply cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge and follow the Pacific Highway to Wahroonga where there is a clearly signposted turn to the right to Newcastle. That is the Newcastle Expressway which is a 110 kilometre-an-hour dual highway which crosses the Hawkesbury River. The Cessnock turnoff is about an hour up the freeway to the left, marked 82 in a small shield with "Cessnock/Kurri Kurri". Route 82 turns left to Cessnock about 15 kilometres up that road. If you reach Kurri Kurri, you have gone too far.

Sky Ports

The wine growing area of the Hunter is also a major hot air ballooning, sky diving and parachuting centre. The Newcastle Sport Parachute Club offers tandem skydiving and parachute courses (phone 02 4938 1040). Balloon Aloft is a long-established hot air balloon operator offering sunrise flights followed by breakfast from five locations in the valley.

Hunter Valley Hotair Ballooning (phone 02 4991 3566) has its headquarters at Pokolbin, the tourist centre of the region.



The southern gateway to the Hunter Valley wine region. The Hunter is also one of Australia's oldest and biggest coal mining areas, and many towns were founded on coal rather than wine. Some of the vineyards are sitting on an underground bed of black coal. Cessnock is a large town and has clubs, pubs and restaurants. It is a useful place to stay if you are on a fairly tight budget.


Wollombi is on the Great North Road, a back door to the Hunter Valley from Sydney. It is an old and pretty town established in 1820 and well worth the 60 kilometre return side-trip from Cessnock as a change from the vineyards. Unlike the Hunter wine area, which is set in rolling hills, Wollombi is in a wooded river valley. The town is very small but it has several heritage buildings of sandstone and slab timber built in the 1820's.


Pokolbin is about 6 kilometres west of Cessnock and is the major centre in the region. It is surrounded by resorts and guest houses which add to the choice of restaurants and cafes in the town.

Hunter Valley Wine Country has information offices in Cessnock and Branxton. They have free maps and brochures of the area, accommodation guides and information on local tour operators that run tours of the wineries if you prefer to be shown around rather than drive yourself.

Visit Hunter Valley for more information about this wonderful region.