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Unmissable NSW: The Hunter Region

Countryside, Hunter ValleyCredit: Destination NSW

Hot air balloons flying over the Hunter Valley at sunrise.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Unmissable NSW: The Hunter Region

Countryside, Hunter Valley Credit: Destination NSW

Hot air balloons flying over the Hunter Valley at sunrise.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Hashtags #feelnsw #newsouthwales

Around two hours from Sydney, the lush Hunter Region of New South Wales will surprise you at every turn. One moment you’re admiring the bucolic countryside with its wine estates set among manicured gardens with tinkling fountains and strutting peacocks, then suddenly a mob of kangaroos hops by in the distance. You’ll soon discover that nobody takes themselves too seriously here except of course, when it comes to creating delicious wines, inspired cuisine and genuinely warm service. Here’s how to make the most of your time with unmissable things to do in The Hunter.

Feel your tastebuds awaken with a long lunch

Celebrated British chef and seafood master, Rick Stein is an honorary Australian and not only by marriage. He visits often and has his own restaurants at the fashionable Bannisters Hotel properties. His kitchen mantra is fresh seafood, simply prepared and there’s just so much to choose from in Port Stephens. You’ll find many of his classics on the menu here including Fish & Shellfish Soup, Singapore Style Chilli Crab and Black Cuttlefish Risotto, plus wonderfully fresh Sydney Rock Oysters, which were surely bedded down just moments ago.

The restaurant is chic with floor to ceiling windows that overlook the sea fringed by native trees with beautiful birdlife swooping past. You might even hear the laugh of a kookaburra. Afterwards relax on the deck arrayed with wicker furniture, day beds, striped umbrellas and a stunning infinity pool, which faces the sea. Bannisters is a chilled place to stay with an excellent selection of rooms and suites including a lavish penthouse with a private terrace.

Adventure on a 4WD Sand Dune Safari

Now to that exhilarating 4WD experience. Port Stephens boasts the largest sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. The Worimi Conservation Lands is a place of cultural significance to the Worimi Aboriginal people and the setting for the awesome, 2,500 hectares of sand dunes which make up Stockton Bight. They tower as much as 30m above sea level with slopes of up to 60 degrees to form an amazing setting that’s also ideal for sand-boarding. Climb into a purposefully built 4WD to race through this extraordinary landscape, which includes Tin City - corrugated iron fishing shacks in the middle out of dunes.

Bannisters, Port Stephens Credit: Destination NSW

Couple relaxing by the pool at Bannisters, Port Stephens.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Bannisters, Port Stephens Credit: Destination NSW

Couple relaxing by the pool at Bannisters, Port Stephens.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Stockton Sand Dunes, Port Stephens Credit: Destination NSW

Sun setting over the Stockton Sand Dunes in Port Stephens.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Stockton Sand Dunes, Port Stephens Credit: Destination NSW

Sun setting over the Stockton Sand Dunes in Port Stephens.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Float up, up & away 

 To see the beauty of the Hunter Valley spread out beneath you, the only way is up. The award-winning Balloon Aloft Hunter Valley Balloon Flights lift off at sunrise. Watch as your balloon is inflated from one of a handful of sites, and then slowly drift off.  Below you, life is just kicking in at some of the Pokolbin, Lovedale and Rothbury estates with the grounds being readied for visitors. Even the kangaroos are just waking up.  It’s a serene experience. Gently come back to earth again to enjoy a champagne breakfast at the acclaimed Petersen’s House winery. If only every day could start this way.  

Discover the region’s finest grapes

With over 150 wineries producing dozens of varieties, the Hunter Valley is one of Australia’s most iconic viticultural areas with an intoxicating history that goes right back to the 1800s when arriving settlers brought grape vines with them. It’s now a place of rich, rolling hills and often seemingly secluded estates where unassuming cellar doors and hatted restaurants await. There’s also a great camaraderie among winemakers, especially when it comes to recommending each other’s drops. They’re laid back, knowledgeable and laconic in the best Australian tradition. For a new way to explore the vines, book a tour in a carriage or in a fun vintage car. Start at Pokolbin, and discover the award-winning Tyrrell’s, steeped in history, since it was founded in the 1850s. Followed by a visit to the iconic Brokenwood, which has a new cellar door experience with tasting pods, which allow you to try different styles including premium vintages. Or, enjoy a seated wine and food flight with a selection of six Brokenwood wines matched with bite-sized canapés.

Make memories at the Lovedale Long Lunch

Each May, the Hunter Valley village of Lovedale with its rolling hills, family-owned wineries and boutique hotels, stages a two-day event - the Lovedale Long Lunch. Among those joining are some of the region’s leading chefs as well as Gartelmann Wines, Saltire Estate, Emma’s Cottage, Sandalyn and Tatler. If you’re planning to visit another weekend, rest assured there is plenty to see and do in this picturesque village.  It’s a progressive lunch in the great Australian tradition. So, gather your nearest and dearest for a memorable weekend indulging in delicious local produce in a serene setting.   Even if you’re not around in May, there’s also so much to explore in Lovedale, which is an ideal destination for a weekend stay.

Balloon Aloft, Hunter Valley Credit: Destination NSW

Hot air balloons over the Hunter Valley at sunrise.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Balloon Aloft, Hunter Valley Credit: Destination NSW

Hot air balloons over the Hunter Valley at sunrise.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Brokenwood Wines, Pokolbin Credit: Destination NSW

Couple enjoying a wine tasting experience with chief winemaker Stuart Hordern at Brokenwood Wines, Pokolbin.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Brokenwood Wines, Pokolbin Credit: Destination NSW

Couple enjoying a wine tasting experience with chief winemaker Stuart Hordern at Brokenwood Wines, Pokolbin.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

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