Saturday, January 28, 2017

I left My Heart in Hunter Valley

My driver for the day

Time for a road trip!

We planned to go to the north to Hunter Valley, the oldest wine region in Australia. Started as family-owned wineries, Hunter Valley continues to produce good quality products, although only less than 2% of all Australian wine in total.

A day trip to Hunter Valley is highly recommended when you are visiting Sydney. Located a few hundred kilometer at the north of Sydney, Hunter Valley can be reached by 2-hour driving or so. Things to do in Hunter Valley include wine tasting, eating, sightseeing, cheese tasting, or simply just relaxing.

We traveled through M1 Freeway and Tourist Drive 33 to reach Hunter Valley. Tourist Drive 33 is the scenic route connecting Sydney and Hunter Valley. From M1 Freeway, take the exit at Calga and follow the road sign 'Tourist Drive 33'.

The view

It is suitably called scenic drive

Our first stop was Wollombi. It is a village in Hunter Valley region which is so picturesque.  After two-hour drive, it was great to stop for awhile and stretch our legs. We visited Wollombi General Store to have our coffee fix and walked around. All the houses along this road are so pretty I feel like settling down here.

The village

Another side of the road

Isn't it pretty?

Driver was tired?

Scone, jam, coffee and Wollombi
Wollombi General Store sells everything to support the necessities of people in Wollombi

Honey, jam, soaps, breads, everything

Wollombi Dance Hall

Pretty in pink

It is 'heaven'

We continued our drive further north to the most famous Hunter Valley village amongst tourists, Pokolbin. Pokolbin has more than 70 wineries, many restaurants and cafes, and Hunter Valley Gardens.

Our first destination was Audrey Wilkinson Winery. It is one of the most scenic wineries in Hunter Valley and it is famous for the semilon. There are complimentary and premium wine tasting here. Without the need to pay any cent, the visitors can enjoy a range of wines from red to sweet one. By choosing the premium wine tasting, the visitors shall pay AUD 10 and get more choices and better older wines.

The winery

It is not strange that this place is so recommended


Can you see the grapes?

The shop

Those people were doing some wine tasting

There is a restaurant too

We stopped over at the visitor centre of Pokolbin to find some information about the area and decide where to go next. We then went to Roche Estate. Roche Estate is an establishment with a number of restaurants, shops, wineries and function halls. Our intention was to visit Smelly Cheese Shop and grab our lunch due to the good review of the food. However, we were told that the food would be ready only in 40 minutes. We cancelled our order and bought the ice cream instead. We chose chocolate, rum & raisin flavour and it tasted super good.

Roche Estate and its shops
Outdoor seating area in front of the restaurants

Nice place, isn''t it?
I love the canopy so so much

It's so packed

Smelly Cheese Shop sells a lot of things, cheese or no cheese

The ice cream won my heart

We knew about our next destination from the guide book I found in the visitor centre. It was listed under the The Best Wineries with View in Hunter Valley. In Constable Estate, there is a lookout hill with 360 degree view of the region. Without any hesitation, we chose this place.

We did not visit the winery as it was already 4:00 p.m. when we reached there. The winery was closed for the day. Therefore, we just drove past the winery to the back and reached Les Evans Memorial Lookout.

It was a small man-made hill and from there we could look at the area to any directions. I enjoyed being up there looking at the pines, the pond, the lush greeneries, the sky and the mountain range. I also enjoyed the strong wind that probably could blow me away.

Les Evans Memorial Lookout

(Almost) on top of the world

The compass show the directions to nearest cities
The Constable Estate from afar

This is my favourite view
Can't stop looking at it

I surely left a piece of my heart here

The sky is so pretty

Constable Estate Winery

A sculpture garden besides the winery

More sculptures

We found a yard at the back

With a view!!!

Our last stop for the day was Hunter Valley Chocolate Shop. It is a shop selling local chocolate products and chocolate fudges. It was almost closed when we came. Apparently most of the shops and wineries in Hunter Valley close between 4:00 p.m to 5:00 p.m.

Hunter Valley Chocolate Shop

The interior

The kitchen

Manyt many fudges

On our way back home, we stopped at one small street full of pink colour flower trees. They were so pretty I could not resist taking million pictures with them. The flower trees are called Illawara flame trees or Kurrajong. They are native to east coast of Australia and bloom at the late spring period. In autumn, they shed their leaves.

The blue fence is kind of making it picture perfect

The Kurrajong trees come in many shades of pink and red

This one matches my romper

More than pretty

We drove back to Sydney with satisfaction. Hunter Valley is certainly one of our favourites!

Love is in the air,
Little Feet

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