See Australia’s Hunter Valley on the Cheap

in Australia

Australia’s Hunter Valley is known for its citrusy Semillons, gourmet restaurants, and five-star resorts. But a stay in this idyllic part of Oz needn’t cost a fortune. There are plenty of ways to enjoy this New South Wales’ hot spot on the cheap.

There are more than high-end hotels and plush bed and breakfasts on the Hunter’s accommodation landscape. The Hunter Valley YHA might be billed as a youth hostel, but this backpackers’ welcomes budget-conscious travelers of all ages. They can soak up the picturesque location in the middle of the Hunter’s wine region, and enjoy handy facilities like the barbeque area and pool. Dorm rooms are available from just $27 a night.

If you’d prefer to get back to nature, you can do it at Barrington Tops National Park. This scenic spot in the north of the Hunter has been heritage listed, so it’s as rugged as camping spots come. It’s gained this status because it’s home to the Gondwana Rainforest , which is believed to be one of the oldest temperate rainforests in Australia. There are several campgrounds to choose from, including the lush Black Swamp, the family-friendly Gloucestor River, and the Devils Hole perched high above the Hunter Valley. Spend your days searching for wombats, kangaroos, and birdlife on one of the walking tracks, or fish for trout in the Manning River.

So long as you avoid taking home too many bottles as souvenirs, a trip to the wineries can be an affordable way to pass the time. Cellars around the Hunter Valley offer complementary tasting sessions for interested visitors. First Creek Winery, located in the township of Pokolbin, also offers free behind-the-scenes tours at 10:30 am daily.

Of course you should never go wine tasting on an empty stomach. Most of the region’s good restaurants are on the expensive side, so a smarter option is to enjoy the atmosphere and plan a picnic instead! The famed Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop has you covered, with picnic hampers full of cheeses, crackers, dried muscatels, and bottles of water starting from $35.

It might surprise you to note that many Hunter Valley wineries have more to offer than just wine. Many also house art galleries that are free to view. Lovedale’s Capercaillie Wine Company has some stellar petit verdot and vintage port, as well as artworks from acclaimed Australian artists including Pro Hart and The Magic Pudding creator, Norman Lindsay. Emma’s Cottage and Vineyard, also in Lovedale, could be accused of trying to do too much. It’s a bed and breakfast, a working boutique vineyard, a restaurant, and an art gallery. All pieces in the gallery are created by Megan Barrass who works with her husband Alec to keep Emma’s Cottage and Vineyard running smoothly. Evans Family Wines and Antiques in Pokolbin offers some of the finest things in life side by side. Guests often enjoy browsing the antiques and homewares on show after wine tasting sessions.

You’ll want to remember your Hunter Valley stay forever, but you don’t want to go home with a tacky souvenir. Opt for quality that doesn’t cost a mint at Pokolbin’s Wine Glass Gallery. This boutique store sells wine glasses and shot glasses that are perfect for serving your other Hunter Valley purchases in! For more choice head to Morpeth, a historic township that boasts around 40 speciality shops offering everything from apparel and accessories to handicrafts and homewares. Some of the items can be expensive, but there are also some bargains to be had amongst this unique collection of stores.

Wineries in Australia's Hunter Valley

Wineries in Australia’s Hunter Valley

Luxury might appear to be around every turn in the Hunter Valley, but with a nose for a bargain you can sniff out more than good wine in this part of the world.

[Image Source: Nathan Jones/Flickr]

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