The Hunter Valley has a well-deserved reputation as one of the country’s best-known wine regions, home to rolling hills covered in trellised vines full of the plump grapes that make the region’s world-class semillons and cabernets. There are over 150 winemakers that call this region home, an easy two-hour drive north of Sydney. But these same scenic hills hold more than just cellar doors and vineyards, there are plenty of fine-dining restaurants, art galleries and activities.
Golfers might try their hand at the Cypress Lakes Golf and Country Club (15 Thompsons Road, Pokolbin; cypresslakes.com.au) one of the top courses in the country, hidden away in this beautiful district. The challenging course is a par 72, 18-hole that will try to distract golfers with the amazing views. Each hole offers glimpses of the surrounding vineyards all framed by the Brokenback mountain range in the distance.
The Cypress Lakes course was designed by professional course architect Steve Smyers, who has sculpted this part of the Hunter Valley into a challenging day out with well-placed bunkers and perfectly coiffed greens. And you don’t have to be an expert; you can grab a golf lesson with a PGA professional or practice your swing at the driving range.
There are other ways to get active in the Hunter too. Take to the skies with Balloon Aloft (balloonaloft.com) which has been sending people skyward to greet the dawn for over 35 years and cruising over the wine regions of Pokolbin, Lovedale, Rothbury and Broke. To celebrate the flight, guests can then head to Peterson House winery and Restaurant (Broke Rd, Pokolbin; petersonhouse.com.au) who are makers of some of the Hunter’s finest sparkling wine for some bubbles and a gourmet breakfast.
If you fancy a wander without golf clubs, try a picnic in the Astills picnic area at the Werakata National Park (nationalparks.nsw.gov.au) near Cessnock where you can sit under a canopy of gum trees. This park is home to a huge range of wildlife and is a great spot for native birdlife. Cyclists can take a ride through the park on the Deadmans bike loop, an easy, flat 8-km loop that is suitable for all the family.
After the games
After an active morning golfing, walking or taking flight why not visit one of the area’s many art galleries. At Butterflies Gallery (1616 Broke Rd, Pokolbin) there are contemporary works from Australian artists and the opportunity to grab a great gift. In Lovedale the Lovedale Antiques Old Wares & Gallery (820 Lovedale Road, Lovedale) is a showcase of some of the amazing antiquities that turn up in the Hunter, an area with a rich history as one of Australia’s first winemaking regions. In the Lovedale store you might find anything from a pocket watch to a range of taxidermied animals – for the person who has everything.
You will be hungry after an active day, so have a long lunch or dinner at one of the Hunter Valley’s amazing foodie offerings. Those who have hit the Cypress Lakes course can head to Bodega Restaurant and Bar (Cnr McDonalds and Thompsons Rd, Pokolbin; cypresslakes.com.au/cms/restaurant-bar) which has views over the course you have just conquered. Try a hickory-smoked rack of pork ribs with coleslaw and beer-battered steak fries or a salmon fillet marinated in lemon thyme and garlic with seasonal greens.
One of the top tables in the valley is Muse Restaurant in Pokolbin (Hungerford Hill Winery, 2450 Broke Road, Pokolbin; musedining.com.au) that offers a delicately balanced degustation that might include deer tartare with pickled turnip gyoza or sashimi of ocean trout; all teamed with some of the region’s best glasses of wine.
Cellar door tour
And while there is plenty to do on a Hunter Valley getaway, you have to sample some of the drops that made the region famous. For glitz and glamour, try Tempus Two (Broke Rd & McDonalds Road, Pokolbin; tempustwo.com.au) where you often see helicopters taking off. You can sample one of the copper or pewter series wines, where the labels are made of metal. This winery may be showy and modern but it has excellent pedigree being run by the McGuigan family, household names in Australian winemaking.
Nearby, Brokenwood Wines (401-427 McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin; brokenwood.com.au) has been around since the 1970s and is home to popular wines like the Cricket Pitch series. If you want a glimpse behind the scenes go on a “Tour and Taste” where you can try some cellar door favourites and get a behind-the-scenes tour of this Hunter Valley stalwart.
Situated in the heart of the action in the NSW Hunter Valley, the Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort is the ideal place to spend the night after a day on the Cypress Lakes Golf Course, or getting active anywhere in the region.
The resort offers a range of self-contained villa accommodation in one-, two- and three-bedroom options with elegant furnishings. Each apartment features a modern kitchen, dryer, spacious living and dining areas and private balcony overlooking the resort’s bushland and 18-hole championship golf course.
Treat yourself to an escape in the vines at the Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort.
For those who enjoy the luxury of space when they travel Oaks Hotels & Resorts are the perfect choice. Specialising in apartment style travel Oaks can be found right across Australia.
Loved by families, couples & groups of friends who enjoy the flexibility of choosing from 1, 2, 3 and even 4 Bedroom Apartments. Enjoy our great city locations or beautiful resort destinations such as Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort Hunter Valley.
Nestled in the Hunter Valley’s picturesque hinterland surroundings, ideal for a leisurely holiday with family and friends, golfing break.
Cypress Lakes Golf & Country Club is consistently ranked in Australia’s top 20 golf resorts, the 18-hole Steve Smyers championship golf course offers guests an unrivalled experience in the Hunter Valley.