New South Wales’ best-known wine region and Australia’s oldest, the Hunter Valley is an area long synonymous with fine wine – in particular, its golden, citrusy Sémillon and soft and earthy Shiraz. In recent years, the region has become equally prized for its restaurant and cultural scene: visitors are treated to some of the best the country has to offer in the way of fine dining, gourmet delis, arts and crafts, and outdoor events and festivals.

Wine, however, is still the main attraction. The first vines were planted in 1828, and some still-existing winemaker families, such as the Draytons, date back to the 1850s. In what seems a bizarre juxtaposition, this is also a very important coal-mining region, in the Upper Hunter Valley especially. By far the best-known wine area is the Lower Hunter Valley, nestled under the picturesque Brokenback Range, fanning north from the main town of Cessnock to the main wine-tasting area of Pokolbin. Cessnock, unfortunately, is a depressingly unattractive introduction to the salubrious wine culture surrounding it, though its big old country pubs offer cheaper accommodation options. Broke Fordwich is an easy fifteen-minute drive from the hectic centre of Pokolbin and also has many wonderful wineries, many of them boutique.

The area can seem a little like an exhausting winery theme park; to experience the real appeal of the Hunter Valley wine country, explore the region’s periphery. Take the scenic, winding Wollombi Road to the charming historic town of Wollombi, 28km southwest of Cessnock; or try the Lovedale/Wilderness Road area, to the northeast, and the still unspoilt Upper Hunter, west of Muswellbrook, with its marvellous ridges and rocky outcrops.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Australia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
Undiscovered Australia: 7 places to get off the tourist trail

Undiscovered Australia: 7 places to get off the tourist trail

Australia is a vast country, though most visitors stay on the same tried and tested track, ticking off well-touristed pitstops along the way. But, of course, …

07 Aug 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
The rebirth of Perth: how the city got cool

The rebirth of Perth: how the city got cool

Sun-soaked and healthy? Perhaps. A decent gateway to Western Australia? Definitely. But a cool place to spend a few days? Until recently Perth just couldn’t …

27 Apr 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook