Sydney may be Australia’s most populous city, but that doesn’t mean that you have to spend every single second of your vacation time there. While a few visits to some of the city’s more quirky attractions are absolutely recommended, there’s something particularly special about heading beyond the boundaries of the metropolis and finding a hidden gem.

In Australia, one of those hidden gems is the Hunter Valley – world renowned for it’s top-class wine. Even if you’re not a huge fan of the grape’s sweet nectar, there’s plenty to see, love and do in the region, and without a doubt it makes for one of the best day trips from the state capital. Read on to find out more.

Getting there

You don’t have to wait until you get to the Hunter Valley to experience the best of New South Wales’ natural beauty – you can see it on the journey! The ‘Valley’ is located 150 kilometres north of Sydney, and the drive there takes about 2 hours, depending on how many times you stop to take pictures of the beautiful countryside. The quickest and most direct route is up the F3 Freeway, but if you’re really keen to absorb some of the scenery, it’s highly recommend that you explore the T33 Route.

This will take you to the Hunter Valley via the historic town of Wollombi, and the breathtaking views of the mountains are sure to add a bit of sparkle to your road trip. There are plenty of charming places to stop for a coffee, and these small towns are a great way to explore what the country looks like outside of the big cities.

red wine glasses sitting on top of a bar.
Enjoy the Hunter Valley’s wine, but make sure to have a sober driver.

Wine in the Hunter Valley

Of course, the first thing that you’ll want to do once you’ve reached your destination is head to the nearest cellar door. Fortunately, you’re spoilt for choice, with over 150 wineries in the area to choose from. The Valley’s speciality is semillon, a very tricky varietal to work with, but one that can be breathtaking if prepared right. The Hunter Valley produces what many consider to be the world’s best semillon, although the shiraz isn’t far behind in terms of recognition.

If semillon or shiraz aren’t quite your cups of tea, there’s no need to worry. Almost every style of wine that you can imagine is produced somewhere in the region – including the world’s most popular, chardonnay. What all the products from this area have in common is the unique ‘terroir’, which is a term referring to all of the different factors that go into growing grapes. This includes everything from elevation to soil density, and the impact on the finished bottle can be quite radical.

There are also plenty of soothing, lush retreats where you can check in for the day.

Dry activities

Despite what you might believe, not every activity in and around the Hunter Valley revolves around wine. In fact, there are plenty of other exciting adventures waiting for intrepid travellers, including a few that are absolutely breathtaking. A great example is the hot air balloon trips that can be taken over the region, providing a bird’s-eye view of the area.

On the other hand, there are also plenty of soothing, lush retreats where you can check in for the day, with luxury spas and massages on order across the Valley. You could even combine these with a glass or two of the local vino, making for a truly unforgettable experience of the ultimate in relaxation.

Once you’ve explored the Hunter Valley, the drive back to Sydney provides a chance to get all those photos you missed the first time around. For more information on top Australian road trips, contact East Coast Car Rentals today.