Experience the Hunter Region
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Experience the Hunter Region

As COVID travel restrictions ease, where’s the best place to reinvigorate and recharge or just relax? The Hunter Region of course!
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We might be biased, but there are worse places to be stuck in lockdown than the Hunter Region. But as local travel restrictions start to ease, this is a perfect time for locals to rediscover the region and encourage the rest of NSW to revisit the diverse range of experiences this place has to offer.

Experience Hunter is a self-funded Out of the Square initiative to showcase the incredible scenery and attractions you can experience in the Hunter Region. By no means a comprehensive guide, it’s a compilation to whet your appetite for a relaxing weekend getaway, long awaited reunion with loved ones or much needed rejuvenating holiday somewhere fresh. We reckon it’s essential travel.

You could be hot air ballooning in the morning before enjoying a champagne breakfast, then maybe a bushwalk to a waterfall or a sand dune camel expedition. Have a gourmet lunch watching the ships come into the harbour, explore beautiful heritage buildings while you do a spot of antique shopping, then grab a cheeky coffee and cake by the lake and finish the day with a romantic walk along the beach. And everything’s within an easy hour’s drive!

When visiting, please take care of yourself and others and respect the COVID19 social distancing rules and anything specific to your destination.

We sincerely hope you’ll be inspired to visit and give a boost to the local economies and tourism operators. Along with the video to share, there’s links to find out more – and book! It’s time to reunite, rediscover, rejuvenate and experience the Hunter Region.

Experience Hunter
Play Video
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Thank you to all those that contributed to the video and the cause.

CoastXP, Joe McGaffin, Wayne Bishop, Sand Dune Safaris, Quad Bike King, Destination Port Stephens, Sand Dune Adventures, Balloon Aloft, Tyler Thompson, David Cleverly Digicrew Australia, Upper Hunter Country Tourism, Marion Stewart, David Gatwood, Mark Rothfield, Jamie Payne, AJ Stephens, Marty Adnum and Out of the Square.

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Booking.com

Newcastle

The capital of the Hunter, Newcastle’s a refreshed city, renowned for its stunning beaches, just a two hour drive north of Sydney. It’s the perfect spot to base yourself during your stay – explore the city or head anywhere in the region.

Newcastle’s busy working port exported Australia’s first coal in 1799. Today, you can marvel at the huge ships coming in and out while you walk along the famous Nobbys breakwater or enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants and bars along the Honeysuckle precinct.

Newcastle has become a foodie’s paradise. Apart from Honeysuckle, you can satisfy your cravings along Darby Street in Cooks Hill, Beaumont Street in multicultural Hamilton and exhilarating beachside spots like Merewether Surfhouse right on Merewether Beach.

If heritage is more your thing, visit Fort Scratchley and take a walk around the historic East End. There are also the Newcastle Museum and Newcastle Art Gallery and several guided tours and harbour cruises.

Outdoor types will love the beaches no matter what time of year. Take a walk along the Bathers Way and see them all, plus the Newcastle Ocean Baths and convict-built Bogey Hole. You might even spot a whale from the top of the spectacular Anzac Walk! There’s also Glenrock State Conservation Area for walks and mountain biking or Blackbutt Reserve for meeting a koala and having a picnic.

While you’re here, don’t miss:

  • Historic sites
  • Beaches and ocean  baths
  • Whale watching
  • Coastal walks
  • State Conservation Areas
  • Mountain biking
  • Wildlife sanctuary
  • Arts and culture
  • Working harbour
  • Dining and shopping

For more detailed information go to:

Visit Newcastle

Visit NSW – Newcastle

Lake Macquarie

From the beaches to the mountains, you’ll love the Lake. Just south of Newcastle, the city’s built around the southern hemisphere’s largest saltwater lake – twice as big as Sydney Harbour! Obviously, this makes it an aquatic playground you can explore by boat, kayak or stand up paddle board. Do some water skiing or a spot of fishing. There are also many shared paths for cycling and walking along the shore. At the lake’s northern tip is the exceptional Museum of Art and Culture.

East of the lake are some awesome surf beaches. With a permit you can go four-wheel driving on Nine Mile Beach between Redhead and Blacksmiths Beaches and find a secluded spot to relax. Caves Beach has a network of caves you can explore at low tide – always popular with families. Or take a visit to the stunning beach at Catherine Hill Bay, a tiny heritage town with an iconic coal-loading jetty jutting into the ocean.

To the west is the Watagans National Park. There are camping spots from which you can explore spectacular waterfalls and rainforest gullies, bushwalking and popular 4WD tracks. There’s even rock climbing and horse riding!

The city’s major centres are meccas for shopping, dining and markets, including Charlestown, Warners Bay, Belmont, Swansea and Toronto. You’ll find parks, cafés and lots more in smaller places like Speers Point, Redhead, Morisset, Wangi Wangi and Rathmines. Rediscover it all!

Things to see and experience:

  •   Fishing
  •   Beaches
  •   Sailing
  •   Bushwalking
  •   National Parks and Reserves
  •   Skydiving
  •   Cycling
  •   Arts and culture
  •   Dining and shopping

For more detailed information go to:

Visit Lake Mac

Visit NSW – Lake Macquarie

Port Stephens

Welcome to the rejuvenating waters of beautiful Port Stephens! You might want to start your visit from the vantage point of Tomaree Headland or Gan Gan Hill Lookout to get the lay of the land and help choose which of the 26 relaxing sandy beaches you’ll lay on.

Spending time on (or in) the water is a must. Dolphin watching cruises depart from Nelson Bay, the major centre, all year round. You can even swim with them! Whale watching is also popular in season as they migrate past. You can also explore on a kayak or board or go underwater and renew your senses with some of the best shore diving in NSW off Fly Point. All levels of divers are catered for in the Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park.

Fresh seafood is another major attraction. You can catch it yourself, of course, or feast on local oysters, prawns, crabs and lobsters in one of the many local restaurants in Shoal Bay and Nelson Bay or the smaller hamlets of Soldiers Point, Fingal Bay or Anna Bay. Fancy or casual, take your pick.

If you’d rather stay dry, consider the monumental Stockton Bight Sand Dunes in the Worimi Conservation Lands at Anna Bay. These are the largest moving coastal dunes in the Southern Hemisphere and offer a forever changing, beautiful sandscape with a host of experiences. Get adventurous in a 4WD or quad bike, test your skill on a sandboard or saddle-up on a horse or even a camel to explore the natural beauty unique to this place.

Revive with these experiences:

  •   Stunning coastal walks
  •   Diving and fishing
  •   Whale and dolphin watching
  •   Boat Hire
  •   Quad biking
  •   Worimi Conservation Lands
  •   Sand boarding
  •   Horse and camel rides
  •   4WD adventures
  •   Dining and shopping

For more detailed information go to:

Port Stephens

Visit NSW – Port Stephens

Hunter Valley Wine Country

It’s Australia’s oldest wine region but there’s more to do than drink! Just two hours north of Sydney and you’re in the heart of a region seemingly made for rest and relaxation.

Mornings are for golf or hot air ballooning over the gentle rolling hills. Afternoons for meeting the big cats and meerkats at Hunter Valley Zoo or getting lost in the enchanting storybook garden at Hunter Valley Gardens with the family. Take your pick of walking and cycling trails or indulgent spas and health retreats.

You won’t go hungry. From simple fare to elegant hatted restaurants, there is an enormous choice of places to enjoy the delicious local produce all around Broke, Cessnock, Lovedale, Pokolbin and Rothbury.

And then, of course, the wine. Originally planted in the 1820s, there are now more vineyards and cellar doors here than any other wine region in Australia, with an incredible variety of flavours and characters to sample and buy. Passionate winemakers will guide you through a connoisseurs dream, sipping classic award-winning vintages and newer, innovative varieties. Book a tour and stay nearby and really make the most of it!

Some things to see and experience:

  •   World class wineries and dining
  •   Aboriginal culture
  •   Scenic drives
  •   Hot air balloon
  •   Bushwalking
  •   Day Spas
  •   Shopping and local produce
  •   Golf

For more detailed information go to:

Wine Country

Visit NSW – Hunter Valley

Upper Hunter Country

The Upper Hunter is a gorgeous place, world famous for its horse studs and world heritage wilderness areas. There are breathtaking national parks and nature reserves, each with their own unique flora and fauna to explore.

Touring through the major towns of Denman, Muswellbrook and Scone will introduce you to some spectacular scenery and give you the opportunity to visit wineries, take a horse stud tour and experience some real country hospitality in one of the many historic towns and villages along the way. Indulge in the fresh local produce, from wine to cheese and even gourmet condiments.

There’s plenty of places to stay – take your pick from rustic campgrounds to luxury rural retreats.

Some things to see and experience:

  • Scenic drives
  • Horse Riding
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Arts and local produce
  • Picnic areas
  • Cellar doors
  • Heritage towns
  • Dining and shopping

For more detailed information go to:

Upper Hunter Country

Visit NSW – Upper Hunter

Barrington Tops

The remote Barrington Tops offers one of the most unique Australian wildlife experiences: Devil’s Ark allows visitors an opportunity to get up close to the rare and endangered Tassie Devil. The Ark was established in 2011 to save the devils from extinction and has been so successful it’s expanded into other species.

This is the place to go wild! Camp by rugged rivers and fish for trout in an ancient rainforest. Explore rugged 4WD trails. Take a kayaking, abseiling, mountain biking, bushwalking adventure. The mountain ranges and wilderness areas near the town of Gloucester were hideouts for colonial bushranger Captain Thunderbolt and they haven’t changed much since his day.

The picturesque town of Dungog’s architectural gems include the heritage-listed former School of the Arts that now houses the Dungog Museum and the Spanish-mission style James Theatre – the oldest purpose built cinema still operating in Australia! The regular markets here and in nearby Gresford and Clarence Town are great for picking up fresh produce including local olives.

Make sure you experience:

  •   National Parks, Conservation Areas
  •   Aboriginal Culture
  •   Scenic drives
  •   4WD trails
  •   Fishing
  •   Horse Riding
  •   Camping
  •   Bushwalking
  •   Adventure tours
  •   Lookouts and waterfalls

For more detailed information go to:

Visit NSW – Hunter

Visit NSW – Barrington Tops

Maitland and Lower Hunter

The Hunter River, once one of the busiest trade routes in NSW, provides a scenic backdrop to the heritage city of Maitland. This is an area rich in history and quickly becoming famous for an exciting emerging food and art scene.

City streets are flanked with colourful murals alongside historic architecture and contemporary spaces such as the award-winning Maitland Regional Art Gallery. Take a heritage walking tour past landmark buildings dating from 1840, or soak up the atmosphere at the iconic Maitland Gaol. Beware of the ghosts haunting the cell blocks!

The history lessons are plentiful with specialist museums for all ages exploring aviation, steam railways, and colonial and convict life. If you’re looking for treasures, take a stroll along High St, Maitland or Melbourne St, East Maitland. There’s a trail of antique stores and quirky makers and traders, or sniff out a bargain in one of the many second-hand and op shops.

On a day trip to Morpeth you can wander through cobbled side streets, past convict-hewn sandstone buildings and churches, and over the heritage listed Morpeth Bridge. Many of the historic buildings now operate as specialty shops selling a unique range of wares, from teddy bears to tea pots, handmade fudge to sourdough, boutique clothing to quality homewares and ceramics.

Make sure you work up an appetite because Maitland offers some the best foodie experiences anywhere in the Hunter. If morning tea is on your agenda, there’s plenty of options for indulgent cakes and pastries. Pick up some specialities to take home with you from deli’s and craft bakeries and chocolatiers, or relax into a long lunch or special occasion dinner at one of the many quality restaurants and gastro pubs that showcase the exceptional local produce.

Some things to see and experience:

  • Arts and culture
  • Heritage towns
  • Historic architecture
  • Maitland Gaol
  • Local crafts and produce
  • Antiques
  • Aviation Museum
  • Richmond Vale Railway Museum
  • Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles
  • Cafes, restaurants and pubs

For more detailed information go to:

My Maitland

Visit NSW – Maitland

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We acknowledge and respect the traditional custodians of the land in these areas, the Awabakal, Worimi, Kamilaroi, Biripi and Wonnaruah people.

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