By Chiara Fayn
There’s no doubt that Australia is home to some of the most beautiful country towns in the whole world. During these unprecedented times (hi Covid-19), travel is still restricted and may be limited for some time to come. Thankfully, we have the opportunity to take a step back and enjoy the wonders that are at our doorstep in New South Wales.
The Hunter Valley is only a short two and a half hour drive from Sydney CBD making it the perfect weekend getaway for Sydney-siders – whether that’s with a partner, a girls weekend or a family vacay. The best thing about the Hunter Valley is that you can choose to splash out and pamper or you can see the sights on a shoestring. No matter how much you choose to spend, the Hunter Valley will deliver!
For those of you who are seeking luxury and decadence, Spicers Vineyards Estate is the one stop shop that has you covered. The small guest house with just 12 suites is the ultimate boutique hotel in the Hunter Valley, with award winning Spicers hospitality. Located on a Vineyard, Spicers Vineyard Estate has views across fields of vines which makes it perfect for getting a great insta pic! The estate boasts a luxurious spa, Spa Anise (i see what you did there!), as well as a hot tub and pool!
Each suite is fitted with a fireplace, oh so perfect for cooler spring evenings where you just want to stay tucked in with a glass of wine and a good book. The incredible service, beautiful guesthouse and amazing experiences Spicers Vineyards Estate offers makes it the number one getaway for a luxurious stay in the Hunter. Oh, did I mention you can get a helicopter here? Now, that is luxe!
Due to the devastation of Covid-19 we are learning to explore parts of our own region more whilst we wait for international and more inter-state travel to become available again. The Hunter Valley is especially great for one or two night stays, making it perfect for a short group trip.
The Crowne Plaza is the ultimate destination for those of you wanting to save a little bit on accommodation, but still stay in the heart of wine country. The Crowne Plaza has a wide range of amenities including a large, heated outdoor pool, separate spa and fully equipped gym, as well as two restaurants and a bar. With complimentary parking and large rooms for up to three adults, this budget and family friendly resort will ensure that you make the most of your time in the Hunter.
When we talk about wine tastings, some people get a bit turned off thinking it's a bunch of people going around snobbishly sniffing glasses of wine, having a swig and then spitting it straight out. WRONG! Wine tastings are so much more than that! They are social ways to try local produce – and not only limited to wine.
Now, i’m not going to tell you which tour or vineyard is the best and the only one you should go to, as wine and wine tours are so personalised that it is up to you to choose which one tickles your fancy! For instance, myself and my friends chose a tour that included not only wine, but also cheese and chocolate, because I myself love, love, love cheese! The secret is do your research and choose which tour is best suited to you – and if none of them do, then create your own and have fun with it.
If you appreciate your food like I do, then EXP is the one and only place you need to eat at while in the Hunter Valley. EXP will deliver an experience (get it) like no other, but unfortunately while Covid-19 restrictions are around, it’s very limited at this time. Nonetheless, this experience is not ruined. EXP serves strictly local produce with a seven course degustation that changes seasonally.
Prepare to be in awe of the standard of local produce that we have here in New South Wales and the creativity of Chef Frank Fawkner. EXP is strictly bookings only and prepaid. For the full EXPerience, i recommend choosing the wine pairing for $190 pp. to be amazed with what the Hunter Valley has to offer.
If fine dining is not your thing, then Cafe Enzo is the place for you. Whether it's a generous bowl of pasta with local veggies, their famous lamb burger, or some juicy, slow-roasted pork, Cafe Enzo is the perfect place for a lunch stop.
Located inside the Peppers Creek village outside of the main town centre just down the road, the little shopping village has so much character. The old style farmhouse exterior is paired with the rustic barn style inside, which is expressed through their delicious comfort meals. Just be careful not to fill up on starters because Cafe Enzo is known for having larger-than-life servings – perfect for filling your bellies before jumping in the car to drive home.
The Hunter Valley is definitely one of the most special places to visit in New South Wales, especially for those who live near Newcastle or Sydney, as even a day trip can be just the getaway you need. Helping out Australian local businesses and Industries (especially during times of uncertainty, as well as those affected by the bushfires earlier in the year) ensures that you are helping businesses that need it the most.
Spending a few days or even the weekend in the Hunter, will give you an appreciation for Australian grown food and wine, meaning the next time you reach for that French champagne at dinner you might think twice and try something Australian!